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. 14 Illinois men’s basketball survives Nebraska in late overtime thriller

James Hoeck
Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. jumps in a attempt to block a shot from Nebraska senior guard Keisei Tominaga during the second half of Sunday evening’s game. After going into overtime the Illini defeated the Cornhuskers by 87-84.

The No. 14 Illini returned to Champaign on Sunday, extending their winning streak to three games unbeaten after a high-intensity overtime victory over Nebraska. With the win, Illinois moves to 17-5 on the season and 8-3 in Big Ten play.

Pretty much a typical day in the Big Ten, said head coach Brad Underwood following the victory. “Right? Pretty much, (it’s) the best league in the country. Great coaches, great teams.

The Illini made no changes to the starting five as 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 took the floor for the opening tipoff.

Play in Champaign saw Illinois going head to head with Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga, who scored 12 of the visitors’ opening 16 points.

I can’t tell you how uneasy (Tominaga) makes you feel as a coach, Underwood said. Doesn’t make me sleep very easy. He’s extremely intelligent. He’s very gifted. I don’t know how many games they’ve ever lost when he’s had nights like tonight.

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    Big triples from Hawkins, Shannon and Domask kept the Illini close behind, and with the Orange Krush on their feet in support, Illinois regained the lead at 17-16 with 11:53 remaining in the half.

    The Cornhuskers responded with a 7-0 scoring run before Rodgers ended the Illini’s drought with a two-handed slam. However, the visitors were able to maintain a two-possession lead.

    Illinois enjoyed an emphatic start to the final five minutes of the half as Shannon broke free in transition and slammed home a one-handed dunk that brought the arena to its feet. However, despite bringing the Illini within one point of the lead, the Cornhuskers continued scoring from deep to regain their two-possession cushion.

    A three-point play by Domask brought Illinois within two as the halftime score read 36-34 in favor of the visitors.

    Graduate Student Forward Marcus Domask sinks the fadeaway mid-ranger to extend Illinois’ lead. (Anh-Khoi Pham)

    Guerrier opened the scoring coming out of the break as the Illini locked in to kickstart a 6-0 run. The momentum quickly began to swing back in Illinois’ favor as the early run morphed into a 13-4 start to the half.

    The Cornhuskers showed their grit and refused to let the Illini escape on the scoreboard. As Underwood searched for options to give the squad a boost on the floor, the answer was found in part by bringing redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja back onto the court. Providing Illinois with a much-needed physical presence in the paint, Dainja wasted little time in getting on the board with six quick points off the bench.

    Heading into the final 10-minute stretch, things began to slow down. The Illini fell into a 3:47 scoring drought before Domask lifted them out of the slump with just over five minutes remaining. Shortly after, Shannon and Hawkins combined for three straight triples to sink the visitors into a 10-point deficit.

    However, entering the final two minutes, Nebraska put together a run, battling its way back within three points of the lead. Two late free throws from the Cornhuskers saw the Illini in control of a tight one-point lead with 32.5 seconds left on the clock.

    Disaster struck for Illinois as it turned over the ball again, gifting the visitors possession with 27.4 seconds remaining.

    Rienk Mast hit the late floater for Nebraska to boost it to a 73-72 lead before Domask earned two free throws with 3.1 seconds to go. The forward tied the game with his first make before missing his second attempt, sending the game to overtime at 73-73.

    The start of overtime saw the Illini win the tipoff, with Guerrier tacking on one free throw to begin the period. Domask responded to a Cornhuskers layup with one of his own before Guerrier brought the building to a frenzy with a big three-point make.

    Tominaga replied with his fifth triple of the night as the back-and-forth nature of the contest persisted. Shannon and Mast added layups on opposite ends of the floor as Illinois held a one-point lead halfway through the five-minute period.

    Hawkins made it to the line to drain two crucial free throw makes before Tominaga scored two of his own with 27.3 seconds remaining.

    Senior Forward Coleman Hawkins celebrates a three-pointer fastbreak in the second half against Nebraska. (Angel Saldivar)

    The free throw shooting competition continued as Domask shot a perfect 2-2 to restore the Illini’s three-point advantage. Tominaga cut it back down to one before graduate student guard Justin Harmon was sent to the line. The guard cooly sunk both attempts.

    Shannon forced a crucial turnover in the dying seconds of the contest before shooting 1-2 from the line as the Illini escaped with an exciting 87-84 victory over the Cornhuskers. Hawkins, Domask and Shannon finished the night as the team’s top scorers, contributing 20, 19 and 18 respective points each in the win.

    Illinois will be back in action on Saturday with a trip up north for an East Lansing, Michigan, showdown against Michigan State. With eight wins now under their belt in conference play, the Illini currently sit in second place in the standings, just behind the Purdue Boilermakers.

    This (win) is very important, Hawkins said. We’ve got people who’re in first place, and they’ve gotta come play us at home. We’re in control of our destiny, and like we talk about it’s one game at a time. We can only control what we can control, so to go out and win tonight is very big because it’s just one step closer to what we’re trying to accomplish.



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    About the Contributors
    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
    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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