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

Late comeback falls short for No. 9 Illinois in elite Big Ten clash against No. 1 Purdue

Angel Saldivar
Graduate student Marcus Domask attempting a free throw against Colgate on Dec. 17. Domask scored 32 points against Purdue on Friday.

All eyes in the college basketball world were tuned in to West Lafayette on Friday night for a top-10 showdown between No. 9 Illinois menʼs basketball and No. 1 Purdue. Following two fast-paced halves and a near-upset on the cards, it was the Boilermakers who managed to survive a late comeback effort as the Illini fell five points short by the end of regulation.

Head coach Brad Underwood made no changes to the starting five ahead of Illinoisʼ toughest test of the season. Sophomore guard Ty Rodgers, junior guard Luke Goode, graduate student forward Marcus Domask, graduate student forward Quincy Guerier and senior forward Coleman Hawkins took the court first for tipoff in West Lafayette.

It would be an understatement to claim that the Illini suffered one of their slowest starts of the season on Friday night. The Boilermakers rose to an early 11-2 lead five minutes into the game and never looked back. Led by Braden Smith in scoring and Zach Edey in rebounding, Purdue stamped its foot down early in the matchup in front of a rowdy home crowd at Mackey Arena.

Inefficient possessions and 15.4% shooting from the field hurt Illinois early, but the key area that the Illini struggled in was rebounding. The frontcourt of Hawkins and Guerrier struggled against the 7-foot-4-inch center in Edey, and halfway through the first half Illinois found itself out-rebounded 17-9.

Very little went right for the visiting Illini during a brutal opening 10 minutes. However, Goode ended the scoring drought with a jumper that led to an 8-0 run thanks to back-to-back triples from graduate student guard Justin Harmon and Hawkins. Buckets from Guerrier and Domask built added to the run, building it up to 15-2 with seven minutes on the clock.

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What was a 16-point deficit was soon dwindled down to a mere six-point deficit for Illinois, who werenʼt able to continue the momentum. Purdue initiated a 15-6 scoring run over the last 3:25 to close out the half, taking a 47-32 lead into the break.

The start of the second half saw the Illini go head to head with the Boilermakers slightly better than in the lopsided first half. However, the visitors werenʼt able to put much of a dent into the deficit early on and found themselves behind by 21 points at the 12:47 mark, the largest deficit of the game.

Goode and Guerrier began to heat up during the final 10 minutes of the game as Illinois began to put together a few crucial scoring runs to claw within 11 points of Purdue.

Domask also had a big second half performance, scoring 20 of his 26 total points during the final twenty minutes.

The key for Underwoodʼs squad came in getting to the free-throw line, and efficient shooting from Goode and Domask helped in putting together a 12-5 run. Now down only nine points with 3:42 remaining, the Illini continued to push, forcing the Boilermakers into a 3:25 scoring drought.

An 8-0 run at the death for Illinois brought it within six points of Purdue, before Hawkins stepped up to sink a massive three-point make to bring the Illini within three points with 12.1 seconds remaining.

However, with too little time left on the clock and a couple of late free throws for the Boilermakers, the home side were able to hold out to claim the narrow 83-78 victory.

A four-game win streak comes to an end for the Illini, who also endured their first loss since the suspension of fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr.

Now 11-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, Illinois will look ahead to its return home on Thursday to face off against Michigan State.



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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!
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
My name is Angel Saldivar and I'm nearing the end of my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois and currently serve as the Assistant Photo Editor at the Daily Illini. When I'm not out taking photos, I'm diving into filmmaking with my film club (shoutout Illini Film and Video) or playing the drums. Got questions or just want to connect? Don't hesitate to email me!
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