CHAMPAGNE, Ill. — Senior guard Darren Moore scored 15 of his team-best 18 points in the second half, but visiting UC Irvine could not overcome a sluggish first half in a 79-65 season-opening nonconference men's basketball loss at No. 13-ranked Illinois on Monday.
The Illini opened a 34-8 lead and were in command, 42-18, at halftime in front of 15,287 at Assembly Hall.
But UCI, which had four players score in double figures, outscored the hosts, 47-37, in the final 20 minutes.
Junior Eric Wise had 11 points and 12 rebounds for his seventh career double-double. Senior guard Patrick Rembert had 12 points and a team-best three assists.
Senior Pavol Losonsky, starting in place of junior Adam Folker, who is out four to six weeks with a broken hand, had 11 points and four rebounds in 32 minutes.
Moore made five of nine field-goal tries, including three of five from three-point range.
Freshman Chris McNealy scored eight points off the bench, making both of his three-point tries.
UCI shot 34.9% from the field (43.2% after intermission), while Illinois shot 50% from the field.
Both teams had 14 turnovers and the Illini posted a 39-37 rebound advantage.
"I was pleased with my team in the second half," said UCI Coach Russ Turner, who called his team's first-half play tentative. "We have a long way to go, but I have guys with fight in them."
UCI takes on USC at the Galen Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.
—From staff reports