CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois men’s basketball is coming off a huge win over Syracuse in the ACC / Big Ten challenge. Sophomore Coleman Hawkins hit a triple double last night, but he wasn’t the only sophomore making an impact.

Head coach Brad Underwood says RJ Melendez has picked up his play the last two games. After a slow start in Las Vegas, Melendez has put up over 30 points in two games and Underwood says he’s noticed the change in the sophomore.

“The first play is something we haven’t seen our of RJ and go offensive rebound and then he got a block,” Underwood said. “He was a little aggressive. Yeah, that’s really hard to do is come back and just get your bearings about you when you’ve been sitting out a long time. I tried to put him in for a minute or two just to stay somewhat warm in the first half, but yeah it’s good to see because he’s starting to play well.”

Illinois will take off Thursday for their first Big Ten matchup versus Maryland on Friday.