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. 23 Illinois men’s basketball grabs fourth win in 88-60 night against Southern

Jacoby Banks-Hull
Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. powers through two Southern players in the second half on Sunday. Despite an early foul limiting his first-half playing time, Shannon emerged as the top scorer of the night, tallying 24 points.

While most of the student body’s fall break started on Friday, that was not the case for members of No. 23 Illinois men’s basketball. A Sunday night meeting with the Southern University Jaguars was on the schedule and featured faithful members of the community filling up the Orange Krush sections in lieu of students. Despite missing senior forward Coleman Hawkins on top of their hyperbolic sixth man, the Illini cruised to a 88-66 victory and moved to 4-1 on the season.

Still in the absence of Hawkins, the starting lineup remained the same as against Valparaiso. Graduate student forward Quincy Guerrier and redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja stood alongside graduate student guard Marcus Domask, fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr. and sophomore guard Ty Rodgers.

Illinois reeled in the tipoff and went to work on the offensive end. Rodgers ultimately found Dainja under the basket for the first points of the game. Shortly after, Dainja generated his own look with a couple of spins and it paid off in a successful hook shot. Southern fired off six straight points from there, but Dainja continued his dominance and dropped in another bucket (6-6). 

Coming off a career night, redshirt freshman guard Niccolo Moretti entered the game with 16:41 remaining and set up a Dainja dunk in less than a minute. Domask finding a cutting Guerrier earned Illinois its first non-Dainja points of the game. 

That didn’t mean Dainja was going away, however, as he secured an offensive rebound and nailed a reverse layup to reach double digits. He was even able to leverage the attention his scoring had drawn and find Guerrier on a cut for his first assist of the season (14-10).

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Dainja needed a break and in his absence, Moretti stepped up. Pretty finishes on both sides of the basket on top of a dime to freshman forward Amani Hansberry gave the Illini a 23-17 lead with 9:20 to go. 

The pleasantries continued for Dainja, who sank his first free throw of the season in a 1-2 trip to the line. That came in the midst of a two minute field goal drought for the Illini, one that was eventually ended by an and-one finish by Shannon (31-24).

Shannon followed that up by earning another trip to the line and getting back-to-back and-one layups in just over a minute of game time. By the time the dust settled, Illinois’ lead had been pushed to 38-24 and the Chicago native had a team-high 13 points.

After a long defensive stand, Shannon continued to pour it in and got another transition layup. In total, Illinois closed the first half on a 17-3 run that put itself firmly in control of the game (45-27).

Entering halftime, Shannon led the way in scoring with 17 points while Moretti had a team-high three assists. The task of the glass was pretty evenly distributed which resulted in eight Illini having more than one rebound and four from Dainja and Domask sitting at the top.

Guerrier started off the second half with a pair of emphatic baseline slams that effectively summed up the rest of the game. A three within the first two minutes put Shannon at 20 points for the third consecutive game and pushed the Illini lead to a game-high 24 points. 

Nearly leading by as many points as Southern had scored to that point, the most the State Farm Center had to get loud for was opposing free throws. Desperate for a shot at free McDonaldʼs chicken nuggets, the crowd’s wish was granted at the 16:06 mark and met with thunderous applause (52-28). 

It would’ve taken a miracle for the Jaguars to make a comeback, and fortunately for the Illini, no such miracle occurred. Illinois coasted into a 88-60 victory and moved to 4-1 on the year. Shannon remained the leading scorer but also tacked on a team-high four assists to his 24-point outing. Five other Illini ended up reaching eight or more points while Domask (9) and junior guard Luke Goode (7) dominated as rebounders.

Illinois men’s basketball gets a bit of a break this week, but will be back in action on Friday to close out its month-long home stand. Tipoff against Western Illinois is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be available to watch on Big Ten Network.



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About the Contributor
Conor Blount
Conor Blount, Senior Sports Reporter
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.
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