Cory Bradford picked up where he left off last season.
"Cory's been there and done it for a year. When we need a tough bucket, he doesn't mind stepping up and making it," Kruger said.
The Illini (2-0) were trailing 32-30 at halftime, but Bradford nailed a 3-pointer to open the second half and start a 9-2 run that gave Illinois a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"He hasn't had four fouls much," Bradley coach Jim Molinari said. "I think that was a little shocking to him."
Molinari said Illinois did a better job of spreading the Braves' defense out in the second half and said his team did a poor job against the Illini zone.
"We didn't attack it. We stood around too much," he said.
Illinois' starting lineup boasts three players from Peoria who were playing in their hometown for the first time since high school. Frank Williams led the trio with 16 points, Marcus Griffin had 14 and Sergio McClain had 5.
The strongly pro-Bradley crowd of 11,430, an attendance record, gave them a hard time.
"For the first time in Peoria, the crowd was against us," McClain said. "We just did a good job of keeping out poise."
Illinois shot 26-of-36 percent from the free-throw line.
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