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. 24 Illinois men’s basketball gets first conference win in double-digit victory over Rutgers

Guard%2Fforward+Quincy+Guerrier+hangs+from+the+hoop+after+going+for+a+dunk+against+Eastern+Illinois+on+Nov.+6.
James Hoeck
Guard/forward Quincy Guerrier hangs from the hoop after going for a dunk against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 6.

The longest break of No. 24 Illinois men’s basketball’s young season was snapped by an appearance at Rutgers. It was also the Illini’s first game on the road and senior forward Coleman Hawkins’ first appearance since Nov. 14.

Graduate student forward Quincy Guerrier, graduate student guard Marcus Domask, fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr. and sophomore guard Ty Rodgers joined Hawkins in the starting lineup. Redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja, who filled in as a starter for Hawkins’ three game absence, moved back to the bench.

Rutgers came down with the tipoff, but eventually committed a traveling violation which gave the ball to Illinois, who got in on the turnovers just a few seconds later with an intercepted pass. The Illini later broke the scoring seal by way of an inbounds pass to Domask that set up an easy layup. 

This kicked off a huge run for Illinois, who responded to Rutgers’ first two points with 14 uninterrupted. Guerrier had his best few minutes as an Illini during that stretch: sinking a three, picking up a poster dunk and dropping in a push shot in the paint. 

While not as flashy, Domask joined Guerrier in the seven-point club just a few minutes later. His final basket showed off an impressive amount of patience as he methodically took his defender inside and freed up space for a layup (16-4).

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    After missing his first three shots, Shannon got on the board in transition. His speed shook the primary defender, and the shifting Rutgers defender stood no chance as Shannon quickly changed directions for a layup. 

    Back-to-back threes from junior guard Luke Goode and graduate student guard Justin Harmon off of the bench resulted in Illinois tripling Rutgers with 10:54 to go in the first half (24-8). 

    The Scarlet Knights showed a bit of life from there, sinking two free throws off a loose ball foul and then forcing two quick turnovers. Shannon was able to stop the bleeding with yet another impressive play in transition, but back-to-back quick buckets for Dainja thrusted Illinois back into the driver’s seat (30-15).

    Turnovers were the only thing preventing the Illini from truly breaking away, Rutgers’ full court press proved especially effective. Huge three after huge three pulled the Scarlet Knights from the dust and resulted in a 13-4 run. Sitting at a two possession game, head coach Brad Underwood was forced to take a timeout and regroup (34-28).

    Unfortunately for Illinois, the same story continued after the break and another Scarlet Knight three made it a one possession game. A late three from Shannon was a valuable boost that meant Illinois still held a 41-36 advantage after 20 minutes.

    The Illini were ultimately still leading at halftime, but an enormous lead had been shrunk to a miniscule one and it appeared the Scarlet Knights knew how to exploit their weaknesses. 

    By the time the second half rolled around, all the slippage for Illinois was gone. The Scarlet Knights responded to back-to-back opening Illini baskets, but after five minutes the Illini lead had blossomed to a much more manageable 47-39. 

    Illinois didn’t look back and continued to rebuild the massive lead it gave up. Entering the final 10 minutes of play, the Illini held a 61-44 lead capped off by big threes from Shannon and Goode.

    The addition of two more threes from Shannon was the final nail in the coffin, pushing the Illini advantage to 67-44. This massive differential was achieved due to a stifling 18-2 run where Illinois masterfully countered all that was working for Rutgers while finding new ways to succeed. 

    The lead proved to be enough to last, as even after Rutgers broke its dry spell it could not gain any ground. Illinois coasted into a 76-58 point victory, with Shannon (23), Domask (15) and Goode (9) leading the way in scoring. On top of that, Shannon reeled in team-highs in rebounds (10), assists (3) and blocks (2). As a whole, the Illini outrebounded their opponents 55-27.

     

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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.
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