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

Illinois men’s basketball to meet Kansas in Maui Strong Relief Matchup

James Hoeck
Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. shoots the ball during the first half Illinois exhibition match against Ottawa on Oct. 20. Shannon Jr. scores 18 points in 16 minutes.

In No. 25 Illinois men’s basketball’s first exhibition game of the season, the Illini blew out Ottawa by 51 points. Although the Illini would certainly welcome a similar outcome this Sunday, it is unlikely that No. 1 Kansas and senior center Hunter Dickinson will go down as easily. The two squads will tip off at 5 p.m. in front of a packed house at the State Farm Center, with all proceeds being donated to the Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund.

From coaching staff to players, there is a lot of familiarity between these two teams. Kansas’ head coach Bill Self led the Illini from 2001-03, one of the most successful three-year stretches in program history. During that time, Illinois boasted two regular-season Big Ten titles, a Big Ten tournament title and an appearance in the Elite Eight. 

Dickinson, who recently transferred from Michigan, does not have such fond memories of Champaign. During his three years with the Wolverines, Dickinson was 0-3 against the Illini and lost by an average of 11.7 points each time.

In nonexhibition matchups, Illinois and Kansas have split their all-time series 3-3. The most recent game was in the second round of the 2011 NCAA tournament, where Illinois was eliminated by a comfortable margin (73-59).

In the present, much remains to be seen about Illinois. The first exhibition match featured playing time for a lot of newcomers, whether it be fifth-year transfer forward Marcus Domask or freshman guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn. Illinois’ familiar faces shined against Ottawa with fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr. scoring 18 points in 16 minutes. 

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    The old and new will have to continue to mesh well if Illinois wants any chance at beating Kansas. One thing head coach Brad Underwood was not completely pleased with last time out was the amount of threes that his team gave up (10). 

    “I was very disappointed in the fact that we gave up five threes (in the first half),” Underwood said. “Most of those were on very poor closeouts, I think one was contested. We gave up too many threes, I don’t care how many they take. We told our team, literally, the only thing we told them was that this team is gonna take 40 threes and our closeouts were soft.”

    This task is only going to get more difficult against Kansas as the Illini will be having to deal with a much more fierce interior presence in Dickinson, who is also coming off a career year from deep — 42.1% on 1.68 attempts per game. Fortunately, playmaking is an aspect that Illinois can leverage against the star big man who had more turnovers than assists last season (50-69).

    It remains to be seen whether the Illini will continue to have effective ways to contain Dickinson in a new system and with a more talented team, but they aren’t the only ones who will have their hands full with a star player.

    “Terrence has been committed, focused, dedicated,” Underwood said. “I’ve said it, he’s got a chance to be one of the elite two-way players in the country. He can guard the ball as well as anybody in America, I believe that. I think our guys are understanding to find him early in transition and get him the ball. Terrence with a couple bounces is just dynamic.”



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    About the Contributors
    Conor Blount, Assistant Sports Editor
    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, 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.