Illinois beats Butler 78-61 to win Maui tourney

LAHAINA, Hawaii - The Butler Bulldogs fall to Illinois after an impressive showing at the Maui Invitational.

The Illini beat Butler 78-61 to top an eight-team field that included No. 9 North Carolina and Marquette.

The Illini (6-0) held off several attempts by Butler to string points together in the second half. Paul was one of four players in double figures, along with Tracy Abrams with 17 points and Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson with 14 each.

Illinois shot 48 percent as Butler (3-2) relied almost exclusively on point guard Rotnei Clarke to score. Clarke had 27 points and took nearly one-third his team's shots.

Illinois won by outshooting Butler in the first half and countering each Bulldog run in the second.

After the Bulldogs pulled within five points with 12:26 left, the Illini went on a 10-point run.

While Clarke scored 16 points in the first half for Butler, his teammates made only four baskets.

Illinois and Butler each reached the tournament's title game by winning games on consecutive days.

Butler opened the event with a buzzer-beating win over Marquette, 72-71, after Clarke launched a running 22-foot 3-pointer from the right side as time expired. The Bulldogs then outplayed North Carolina in the second round, halting several comeback attempts from the Tar Heels en route to an 11-point win.

Illinois easily won its first two games, beating USC by 30 and Division II Chaminade by 24. It never trailed in the tournament.

Illinois and Butler had not played each other since 1971.

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