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

Notes, player grades from Illinoisʼ 82-75 exhibition upset over No. 1 Kansas

James Hoeck
Forward Coleman Hawkins during the first half rushes to get through Kansas center Hunter Dickinson’s defense during Sunday’s exhibition match.

No. 25 Illinois basketball pulled off an exciting upset win over No. 1 Kansas on Sunday night. It was the Illini’s stars who shined the brightest in the win, with fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr. scoring a game-high 28 points while senior forward Coleman Hawkins rained down four threes for 14 points.

While the exhibition victory wasn’t as sweet as a regular season upset of the No. 1 team in the country, Illinois has had the most impressive preseasons one could imagine and will look to take this momentum into next Monday’s season opener.

Experience is a prime asset to this team

As pointed out by head coach Brad Underwood, there were moments when Hawkins, who will be 22 years old in December, was Illinois’ youngest player on the floor. The result spoke for itself today and not just in the end result.

This experience shines through on the defensive end, where the Illini gave up just 75 points to the best team in basketball. They held them to an impressive 3-12 mark from deep, compared to last week where Ottawa made 10-30. Much of the difference can be attributed to volume, but Illinois’ experience is noticeably increasing its ability to improve and adjust so far.

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Illinois’ starting five players are indicated with *.

* Terrence Shannon Jr. (A+)

If there was any indicator this early on that Shannon is capable of taking this team far, his performance on Sunday showed it. It’s hard to argue otherwise after the Chicago native dropped 28 points against the No. 1 team in the country. He was a force that the Jayhawks couldn’t reckon with, enjoying an efficient shooting night.

Shannon’s 28 points stemmed from 8-13 finishing from the field and 5-9 accuracy from beyond the arc. The fifth-year guard also shot 7-10 from the free throw line, but the most important part of Shannon’s scoring stemmed from when the points came. At nervy points in the game when Kansas began to claw its way back, the veteran could be counted on to respond with a crucial bucket. Shannon brought competitive fire against the Jayhawks, a very positive sign for the Illini heading into the official start of the 2023-24 season.

* Marcus Domask (B)

After turning in an exciting debut performance against Ottawa previously, it was understandably a quieter night for Domask against the top ranked team in the nation. However, it was still a very solid display for the Southern Illinois transfer. Domask put up 11 points on 4-9 shooting from the field and continued to put in the fight fans witnessed in his debut. The graduate student forward snagged five rebounds in his 29 minutes on the floor, putting in solid shifts each time.

* Quincy Guerrier (A)

Guerrier’s 11 points in the second half were crucial in Illinois coming out on top. From 10:18 to 4:48, Illinois did not score a basket. There was plenty of action at the free throw line, four of which were generated by Guerrier, but he was also the one who ended the drought with a massive shot from behind the arc.

On top of the offense, Guerrier was a solid presence on the boards and even picked up a steal. This culminated in an excellent debut as a starter against the best team in the nation, totaling 13 points and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes.

* Ty Rodgers (B+)

At the start of the game, it was Rodgers who set the tone for Illinois. In the first five minutes and three seconds, he dropped six of the Illini’s first 11 points. The scoring cooled down from that point on, but similar to Hawkins he found a way to provide something the team needed.

Against Ottawa, Illinois had 26 assists on 45 made baskets compared to eight assists on 25 baskets against Kansas. Rodgers facilitated three of those eight total assists, offering an extremely needed boost of playmaking on a night where Kansas was succeeding at cutting the Illini off from one another.

* Coleman Hawkins (A)

Hawkins opened the game defending Hunter Dickinson and he excelled. Through the first 17 minutes of the game, Dickinson was held to 1-6 shooting and was essentially a nonfactor. Too good a player to play that poorly forever, Dickinson still managed to end the game with 22 points on 9-20 shooting. If not for that slow start, the result of the entire game could’ve been different and a lot of credit is owed to Hawkins.

On the offensive end, Hawkins was one of the lone Illini helping Shannon Jr. from deep. He finished 4-9 from outside, including a huge shot over Dickinson late in the second half. The only negative was his inside work, where he went 0-2, but overall he excelled in an area where the Illini desperately needed help.

Justin Harmon (B)

Harmon showed his experience on Sunday night, continuing to look very comfortable on the court in Champaign. He gave the Illini another positive performance during his 22 minutes, this time against the top team in the country. Harmon grabbed six rebounds and shot 3-5 from the field for six points, highlighted by an acrobatic up and under layup past Hunter Dickinson that delighted the Orange Krush.

Luke Goode (C-)

Goode did not play much, but he did not knock down either of his two shots from beyond the arc in his 10 minutes on the floor. The defense and offense of his guard/forward counterparts were likely more desirable in a big game like this.

Dain Dainja (D-)

Dainja was only given nine minutes on the floor but struggled during his time out there. The big man, who is normally much more consistent shooting from the field, missed his only attempt of the night. The redshirt junior’s only point against the Jayhawks came from the free-throw line, though with 1-4 accuracy from the line there is still work to be done. While still serving as a physical presence in the paint, Dainja wasn’t able to contribute anywhere near the standards we’ve seen him at.

Sencire Harris (B-)

Harris was given just eight minutes on the floor against the Jayhawks but made the most of the time. Every Harris performance is going to come with his signature competitive fire, and while unable to contribute much offensively, the sophomore guard’s hustle and willingness to fight on the other end of the court highlighted his night. Harris scored his only field goal attempt of the game and also grabbed two defensive rebounds.

Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (N/A)

Gibbs-Lawhorn only played three minutes and missed one shot from deep, but he did not record any other stats during that time.

Amani Hansberry (N/A)

Hansberry played two minutes against Kansas, shooting 0-3 from the field in that time.

Niccolo Moretti  (N/A)

Moretti played two minutes, grabbed a rebound and went 0-2 at the free throw line.


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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 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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