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 men’s basketball earns scrappy 64-53 win over Oakland

James Hoeck
Forward/center Dain Dainja cuts through Oakland’s defense to make a layup during the second half. The game ended in a 64-53 victory for Illinois.

After starting the season off 1-0, No. 25 Illinois men’s basketball defeated Oakland on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd at the State Farm Center. The Illini managed to earn an 11-point victory over the Golden Grizzlies following a less-than-impressive shooting night from the home side.

Head coach Brad Underwood made no changes to the starting five from the Illini’s season opener, with fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr., sophomore guard Ty Rodgers, graduate student forward Marcus Domask, graduate student forward Quincy Guerrier and senior forward Coleman Hawkins filling out the lineup.

“This is a game that I’ve stressed over, to be very honest with you,” Underwood said. “I know how good they are, I know how good a coach (Greg Kampe) is.”

Sure enough, after winning the tip-off the visiting Golden Grizzlies wasted no time in stunning the Illini with a quick 10-2 run that left the State Farm Center speechless. Illinois looked out of sync during the opening 10 minutes and struggled to get much of anything to fall. Meanwhile, Oakland continued to shoot its way to a seven-point lead over Underwood’s squad.

The introduction of redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja provided a much-needed spark as the Illini got going on a 10-1 run.

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“For me it’s just doing what I can so we can get the dub,” Dainja said. “Every game I try to come in with energy.”

Two free throws from Shannon then saw Illinois claim its first lead of the night at 17-15 with 7:46 remaining in the first. The Illini were unable to build any significant run off of this momentum however, due in large part to the Golden Grizzlies’ Trey Townsend, who finished the half with 11 points. Meanwhile, Dainja proved to be Illinois’ most consistent finisher, putting up eight points on 4-5 field goal shooting.

“Dain was impactful as heck in the first half,” Underwood said, “Being able to get the ball in the paint. It was great to see him get going there in a night where we didn’t make free throws, we didn’t make layups, we didn’t make dunks and we didn’t make threes.”

The final five minutes of the first half saw the lead change hands back and forth. Shannon brought the arena to its feet after stealing the ball and sprinting down the court for the transition dunk, followed by another crucial finish in the paint by Dainja to lift the Illini to a narrow three-point advantage.

However, a dunk on the other end of the floor by Tub Naivalurua saw Illinois head into halftime up by a tight 28-27 score. 0-6 from three and 4-10 accuracy from the free-throw line summarized the type of shooting night the Illini experienced in the opening 20 minutes, a trend the team could not escape in the following half.

Coming out of the break, Hawkins opened the scoring after hitting 2-2 at the line. Illinois began to heat up early with a 7-2 run that was topped off with Guerrier hitting the team’s first three of the night.

The lead didn’t last, however, as the Golden Grizzlies responded with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 37-37 five minutes in. The game remained extremely close as the Illini struggled to get into any sort of offensive flow. By the 7:26 mark, things were still level at 48-48.

Illinois managed to create some space on the scoreboard after a Shannon triple and assist to Guerrier before kickstarting a 22-3 run amid the deafening roar of the fans in the Orange Krush. The Golden Grizzlies completely fell apart in the closing minutes of the game as the Illini only continued to run away on the scoreboard.

Now fully in control on the floor, Underwood’s squad managed to close out the contest with a 64-53 result. Shannon finished the night as the top scorer with 15 points, with Guerrier not far behind with 13 points of his own.

The now 2-0 Illini will be back in action on Nov. 14 as they welcome Marquette to Champaign.



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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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