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

Shannon paves path against No. 1 Kansas, earns statement victory in Maui Strong Relief Matchup

James Hoeck
Guard Terrance Shannon Jr rushes to get to the hoop through Kansas center Hunter Dickinson on Sunday night.

It was already beginning to feel like March on Sunday as the State Farm Center hosted a tournament-worthy matchup between No. 25 Illinois and No. 1 Kansas. Two of the nation’s top teams did not disappoint as they competed in the Maui Strong Relief Matchup, which aimed to spread awareness and raise funding for the people of Maui.

“It’s a heck of a day when you raise over a million dollars for a lot of people who need it,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that two teams competed very hard today, but the real winners are not here. They’re in Maui. When you lose thousands of buildings and people lose their lives and you think about the number of years it’ll take to replenish and rebuild, to me that’s what this is about. We all get wrapped up in the moment but today was a really positive day.”

The high-energy clash did not disappoint, with fans in Champaign being treated to a classic that ended in a huge 82-75 victory for Illinois.

The Illiniʼs final exhibition saw the introduction of graduate student forward Quincy Guerrier to the starting five. Guerrier was joined by fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr., sophomore guard Ty Rodgers, graduate student forward Marcus Domask and senior forward Coleman Hawkins.

The contest kicked off to a fiery start, with both teams going head-to-head on each possession. Rodgers got the game started, opening the scoring with a quick lay-in that drew a passionate roar from around the State Farm Center.

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The Illini and the Jayhawks both shot the ball with efficiency in the opening five minutes. Kansas fell victim to Rodgersʼ aggressive drives to the rim while Illinois struggled to find an answer to Kevin McCullar Jr.ʼs one-handed floaters. The back-and-forth nature of the matchup saw neither team able to gain more than a one-point lead.

Much to the home fansʼ pleasure, former Michigan Wolverine Hunter Dickinson struggled in the opening ten minutes, blanking 0-4 in his return to Champaign.

Despite the tight scoreline, the Illini were able to stay ahead during the majority of the first half. A signature Shannon drive to the hoop along with two straight three-point makes from Hawkins boosted Illinois to a five-point lead at the 8:50 mark.

Just when things looked like were beginning to slow down in the final five minutes for the Illini, Guerrier, Shannon and Hawkins kickstarted a 7-0 run to boost the squad to an eight-point advantage. The Jayhawks weren’t backing down, however, and got going on a 6-0 run over their own to cut the lead to two.

Shannon continued to be a thorn in Kansasʼ side throughout the end of the half, scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting from the field and impressive 4-6 efficiency from beyond the arc. The Chicago native lit up the arena with a last-second three-point make, allowing Illinois to head into the break up by a 43-37 scoreline.

“They’re ranked where they’re at for a reason,” Underwood said. “But I thought it was a lot of teachable moments, I was very pleased with our offensive flow the first half. I thought we had difficulty at times in the second half, but both (Shannon and Hawkins) got going from three.”

A jumper from Domask and another Shannon three opened the second half scoring for Illinois, while Dickinson got things going for Kansas with back-to-back finishes in the paint.

The Jayhawks began to heat up five minutes in, sparking an 8-0 run against the Illini to bring themselves back within one. Shannon finally managed to end the 3:20 scoring drought for the Illini with a quick drive and layup.

With 13:43 remaining, the State Farm Center hurled down an avalanche of boos after redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja was forcibly brought down by Dickinson, though the Brooklyn Park, Minnesota native was unable to convert either of his following free throws. The anger around the arena was soon turned into cheers following a great sequence by Illinois to find junior guard Luke Goode wide open on the wing, who nailed the three-point attempt.

Illinois led 64-57 halfway through the second period of play, and with each winding second the game continued to get chippier and chippier. A couple of heated exchanges between the two teams only furthered the already electric atmosphere.

With under seven minutes left the Illini began to slow down offensively as the Jayhawks brought the game back within one point following a 6-0 run. After being sent to the line, Guerrier shot 1-2 free throws to end a two minute scoring drought before Kansas tied the contest 68-68 with 5:20 remaining. The graduate student forward began fighting off the Jayhawks all on his own, scoring the Illini’s next seven points.

Hawkins then ignited the Orange Krush with a crucial three-point make entering the final stages of the game. A nervy final two minutes saw the Illini stand strong to hold off the top ranked team in the nation by an 82-75 final score.

Shannon turned in another star performance, leading the scoring with 28 points.

“Every game we play, we wanna win,” Shannon said. “We don’t go into the games saying ‘oh, it’s just an exhibition,’ we’re trying to win and be better as a team. We just look at it as learning from this game and looking at the film, and just getting better.”

Now with a huge statement win under its belt, Illinois will be back in action on Nov. 6 to tip off the official start to its 2023-24 season against Eastern Illinois.



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About the Contributors
James Kim
James Kim, Sports Editor
My name is James Kim and I’m a senior studying English with a minor in business. This is my third year with The Daily Illini and it’s been an amazing ride so far. When I joined in fall 2021, I began as a staff writer for the sports section where I covered women’s tennis. In spring 2022, I became an assistant sports editor and started covering soccer and Illinois men’s basketball. From spring 2023 onwards I’ve been working as the sports editor! In addition to being an Illini and Real Madrid fanatic, I also love watching movies and TV shows. If you have any questions about writing for The DI, you can reach me at my email below. I-L-L!
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.
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