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 heads to Maryland in search of 10th Big Ten win of 2023-24

Sophomore+Ty+Rodgers+slam-dunks+against+Michigan+on+Tuesday.
Lucas Sun
Sophomore Ty Rodgers slam-dunks against Michigan on Tuesday.

Coming off a dominant 29-point victory over Michigan, No. 14 Illinois men’s basketball is back on the road on Saturday for a trip to its Big Ten Achilles’ heel: Maryland. Having lost the first encounter against the Terrapins on Jan. 14, the Illini will be looking to avoid the season sweep and exact revenge in College Park.

“A little focus would be good as it’s maybe as poor as we’ve played,” said head coach Brad Underwood about the previous Maryland encounter. “They had something to do with that but we weren’t very connected to (Jahmir Young) in any of his actions. We blew switches. We were all over the place in the first game, so I hope we’re a little more focused and dialed in.”

There’s something about Maryland that Illinois hasn’t been able to overcome, especially in recent years. Illini fans haven’t been able to celebrate a win over the Terrapins since 2022, marking a three-game losing streak since.

The key for Illinois is to not let the scoring drop in College Park. The Illini have put up big scores in the last few games, and the last time they’ve scored under 70 points in a game was against the Terrapins a little over a month ago. In fact, in its last three encounters against Maryland, Illinois has consistently been unable to put up more than 67 points.

The starting five for the Illini have proven their ability to carry out the type of physical, efficient scoring nights that will be required against the Terrapins. In particular, sophomore guard Ty Rodgers as well as graduate student forwards Marcus Domask and Quincy Guerrier have each demonstrated their ability to get in the paint and dominate the inside space, utilizing Illinois’ “booty ball” style on offense.

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The Illini has had senior forward Coleman Hawkins to thank for consistently strong performances lately on both ends of the court. In addition to showcasing his ability as one of the best defenders in college basketball, Hawkins has been getting better and better on attack as the 2023-24 season progresses. Averaging 17 points across the last three games, the forward’s scoring numbers have stemmed from efficient shot selection and strong three-point shooting.

Additionally, the recent offensive resurgence of fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr. should give Illinois a significant boost, with the Chicago native averaging 25 points across the last four games. Most recently, Shannon put up 31 points against Michigan in 28 minutes on the floor. Having missed out on the first game against Maryland due to suspension, the guard’s presence on Saturday will likely play a critical role in whether Illinois can get over the hump or not.

Saturday could see the end of a 13-year drought in College Park, as the last time the Illini managed to leave Maryland with a victory was in November of 2011. The contest will tip off at 4:30 p.m. as Underwood’s squad looks to flip the script on the road.

“You’ve got two choices with losing,” Underwood said. “You learn from it or you accept it. We’ve got to understand what we did wrong in the first game against these guys, and we’ve got to try to correct that.”

 

@james_kim15

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About the Contributor
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!
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