CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- D.J. Richardson went into halftime Tuesday night with three points and his Illini looking for a way to get past Yale.
No. 19 Illinois found it.Richardson scored 13 second-half points and Illinois played smothering defense, holding the Bulldogs to 27 percent shooting in a 73-47 win."The last few games we've played at home we've shot the ball so well," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "Today we didn't have that zone, that feeling. We found a way."Demetri McCamey added 11 for the Illini and Mike Tisdale had 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.Illinois led 30-17 at the half, but needed Richardson's second-half shooting to put the Bulldogs away. Richardson was 6 for 8 from the field and 3 for 4 from the 3-point line.Yale, coming off a 75-67 upset of Boston College last week, stayed close to Illinois for much of the night.But the key to the Bulldogs win over B.C. was 11 for 17 3-point shooting, including 6 for 9 by Austin Morgan, who had 25 points against the Eagles.Yale couldn't duplicate that effort on Tuesday.The Bulldogs were 4 for 20 from the 3-point line.Still, Yale closed within 40-31 with 15 minutes to play when Morgan hit a 3-pointer.But the Illini quickly widened the gap over their next three possessions, turning a dunk by Mike Davis and a 3-pointer and a short jumper by D.J. Richardson to a 47-31 lead with 13:41 to play.Yale got no closer.The Illini shot 61 percent in the second half, and tightened their defense over the final 15 minutes. That included holding Yale to five points over a seven-minute span as Illinois stretched the lead to 22 points at 58-36."We were open for shots for a split-second, but they were able to recover," Yale coach James Jones said of Illinois' defense."When you guard at home," Weber said, "it gives you a chance to control games."The Illini closed the first half with an 8-2 run -- keyed by Meyers Leonard's dunk with 51 seconds to play.Both teams struggled in the first half. Illinois was 12 for 32 from the field. Yale was 6 for 25.Illinois had a three-plus minute scoring drought late in the first half that summed up its struggles.Jereme Richmond missed a 2-foot jumper with 5:51 to play in the half that left him, in spite of a 20-13 lead, shaking his head and talking to himself as he made his way back up court.Things only got worse.On the next three Illinois possessions, Richmond and Tyler Griffey missed easy layups and Brandon Paul threw a pass into the courtside Orange Krush student section.Richmond ended the misery with a short basket from inside the lane with 3:22 to play in the half, putting Illinois up 22-15.While Illinois' offense was flat in the first half, at least part of the problem was Yale's defense. The Bulldogs, playing with no one taller than 6 feet 10, outmuscled the Illini -- whose roster includes two 7-footers in Tisdale and Leonard -- inside for much of the first 20 minutes.Greg Mangano led Yale (1-3) with 14 points. Morgan added 12.