Illinois (3-7) saw a 14-point lead evaporate late in the game, but iced the win when big man Giorgi Bezhanishvili hit two free throws with 27 seconds left. The 6-foot-9 Bezhanishvili, who finished with nine points, also hit a 3-pointer in the first half.
Illinois held UNLV to 34 percent shooting from the field (23 of 68), while shooting 47 percent (28 of 59). The Illini led 40-34 at the half.
UNLV: The Rebels’ offense went to sleep midway through the first half, turning the ball over four times and making no field goals for nearly eight minutes, which allowed Illinois to pad the lead to 15 points.
Illinois: The Illini were back in Champaign for the first time in nearly two weeks, playing its third game in seven days. Illinois was beaten by No. 19 Ohio on Wednesday at the United Center in Chicago.
Samba Kane, a 7-foot center from Senegal, got 16 minutes of playing time for Illinois, scoring eight points. Kane, a true freshman, showed some offensive promise and was a force around the rim during his court time.
UNLV: Hosts BYU on Saturday.
Illinois: Hosts East Tennessee State on Saturday.
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