But, the Illini also had 15 turnovers and they were just 4-of-20 behind the 3-point arc.
“We have some things that we have to improve upon, we didn’t finish the game like we would have liked to,’’ Groce said.
Jamel Waters scored a game-high 27 points to lead Alabama State in scoring and he was the only Hornet to reach double figures.
Up next for Illinois is another home contest on Sunday against Jacksonville State. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. at the State Farm Center.
Before the game, the Illini honored long-time official Ed Hightower, who is planning on retiring after this season. Illinois Athletics Director Mike Thomas presented Hightower with commemorative basketball.