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Southern U Illinois Basketball

Illinois coach Brad Underwood watches from the bench during a win over Southern University earlier this season at Champaign. Underwood's Illini open Big Ten play Friday against Northwestern at Rosemont. 

CHAMPAIGN — On Friday, Brad Underwood wanted his Illini players to take care of the basketball.

By Friday night, after they’d whipped Southern 102-55 in the season opener, he was asking them to take care of their bodies.

Faced with a quick turnaround leading to Sunday evening’s State Farm Center game against Tennessee-Martin, things like sleep and nutrition move up the ladder of importance.

“We talk about being everyday guys,” Underwood said, stressing daily habits that become second nature. “There has to be a level of maturity, how you handle yourself, how you take care of your body. That’s a very good Tennessee-Martin team that will be here.”

Tennessee-Martin, which posted a 22-13 record last season, dropped its season opener Friday when Marshall prevailed 102-91 in overtime.

Tennessee-Martin, which has 10 newcomers including five junior college arrivals this season, was led by Dominique Williams, a 6-6 grad transfer from Radford who also played at Florida International.

Williams came off the bench to make 10 of 12 shots and score 25 points.

Matthew Butler, a 6-2 Ohio Valley Conference all-tournament selection last season, added 20 points.

Illinois also plays Friday and Sunday home games this next week. DePaul is the Friday opponent as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games arrangement with the Big East Conference. And on Sunday, Nov. 19, the same Marshall team that handled Tennessee-Martin comes to town.


Sports Columnist

Sports columnist for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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