The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

No. 25 Illinois menʼs basketball gets off to strong start with 116-65 win over Ottawa

James Hoeck
Guard Terrance Shannon Jr. leaps to the hoop making a score against Ottawa during the first half on Friday night’s game.

Following a tumultuous season that featured the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, Illinois menʼs basketball kicked off its 2023-24 season with a 116-65 win over Ottawa. In the Illiniʼs first ever meeting with the Braves, fifth-year guard Terrance Shannon Jr. led the way in scoring (18) while freshman forward Amani Hansberry notched a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double.

The transfer portal has been a reliable source of players for head coach Brad Underwood in recent years and that was reflected in the starting line up. Fifth-year forward and Southern Illinois transfer Marcus Domask stood alongside senior forward Coleman Hawkins in the frontcourt. Fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr., who was also acquired via the transfer portal last year, rounded out the starting five with junior guard Luke Goode and sophomore guard Ty Rodgers.

Illinois did not come down with the ball off of tip-off but quickly forced a turnover and took the lead thanks to a strong left handed layup by Shannon. Continued success on defense along with eight quick points from Goode and Domask, who sank his first shot as an Illini, resulted in a 10-2 lead within the first three minutes.

Goode sank his second three shortly after, having eight of Illinoisʼ 15 points, before falling victim to a wave of substitutions. The lone starter on the floor was Shannon, who got the crowd fired up with a thunderous alley-oop to redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja on the  break (19-4).

The Braves managed to make up a bit of ground once Shannon was taken out, but this was quickly countered by a platoon substitution from the Illini that put Shannon, Hawkins, Goode, Domask and Hansberry on the floor. This lineup immediately stopped the bleeding and found Shannon for a wide open jumper (23-10).

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

A pair of experienced players traded baskets for the Illini a bit later, as Hawkins dropped in a three for his first points of the game before fifth-year guard Justin Harmon put himself on the board with a floater. Hawkins answered with a slam on the break and Harmon followed suit with a pair of free throws drawn from pushing the pace in a similar fashion (38-19).

Illinois coasted its way into the half and led by 17 or more all the way until the buzzer rang. A well rounded scoring distribution resulted in to the Illini leading 59-30 at the break and eight Illini boasting at least five points. Domask was one of the eight but also managed to reel in a team-high five rebounds and assist a team-high five baskets.

Just 10 seconds into the second half, Goode got right back to where he left off and drained another shot from deep. Despite struggles from the Illini offense, that basket ultimately started an 11-0 run that was capped off by a wide open dunk by Hawkins and a timeout from the Braves (70-30).

Unfortunately for Ottawa, the regrouping did not change the results and Illinois tacked on six more points before its run was stifled. The Bravesʼ first basket of the half came after almost five minutes and was immediately canceled out by a three from Harmon. Freshman guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn was came alive down the stretch and ended up with 13 points, including the basket that simultaneously broke triple digits and increased Illinoisʼ lead to a game-high 51 points (101-50).

It would have been difficult to find a member of the crowd who thought the game was still up for grabs at half, but the 17-0 opening run and lack of a response from Ottawa over the following 15 minutes sealed the deal. After 40 minutes of domination, Illinois walked out with a 116-65 victory and had seven players score 10 or more points. On top of that, nine Illini went perfect from inside the arc, which Underwood mostly attributes to the high number of threes the Illini took (42) along with effective passing leading to better shots.

“Nah… it just happened,” said Underwood. “Realistically we’re not gonna take that many threes in most games but I do think we’re a team that wants to find the paint, we work very hard on that. There’s gotta be a great balance. The way they guarded us tonight, we didn’t get as many cuts as we’ve been getting in practice. You just kind of take what the defense gives you and I think that’s a strength of this team, we’ve got guys who can pass it and elevate each other. We’re turning down good shots to get great shots.”

Illinois menʼs basketballʼs preseason slate will continue on Oct. 29 against the Kansas Jayhawks in the Maui Strong Relief Matchup.



[email protected]

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Conor Blount
Conor Blount, Senior Sports Reporter
My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.
James Hoeck
James Hoeck, Photo Editor
Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.
ILLordle: Play now