Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - D.J. Richardson scored 13 points and keyed a late Illinois run with a pair of 3-pointers, as the 13th-ranked Fighting Illini edged upset-minded Western Carolina, 72-64, at Assembly Hall.
Illinois (9-0), perhaps looking ahead to a meeting with No. 10 Gonzaga on Saturday, needed a 12-2 run in the final stages to put away the Catamounts, who were trying for their first-ever win against a ranked opponent.
Brandon Paul needed 15 shots to total 14 points, while Tracy Abrams added 10 points for the Illini, who shot just 7-of-24 from the perimeter.
Preston Ross and Brandon Boggs netted 17 and 16 points, respectively, for Western Carolina (3-6), which is 0-37 all-time against top-25 foes.