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

Notes, player grades from No. 20 Illinois men’s basketball’s upset victory over No. 11 Florida Atlantic

James Hoeck
Guard Justin Harmon keeps the ball away from Eastern Illinois on Nov. 6.

Despite the New York Knicks being out of town, Madison Square Garden was far from empty on Tuesday night. The famous venue was instead hosting the Jimmy V Men’s Classic, which had No. 20 Illinois men’s basketball and No. 11 Florida Atlantic first on its big-name slate. Fifth-years Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask combined for 66 points, 33 each, in Illinois’ 98-89 upset victory.

Can Illinois play every game in MSG?

Whether it be this thriller against Florida Atlantic or last season’s meeting with No. 2 Texas, Illinois has played some exceptional basketball in one of the world’s most recognizable arenas. On top of Shannon and Domask’s nuclear performances, the Illini as a whole capitalized on something they’ve struggled with all season: free throws. Illinois was 18-20 from the stripe, headlined by a 11-13 mark from Shannon, which made all the difference down the stretch. This is an encouraging sign for the Illini, who entered Tuesday night with an abysmal 67-116 (57.7%) season-long split on free throws.

Illinois’ starting five players are indicated with *.

*Marcus Domask (A+)

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A+++. Domask was nothing short of excellent against the Owls and turned in a performance that will garner attention not only across the Big Ten, but across the country. In addition to helping bring the Illini back into the contest, the graduate student couldn’t miss in the second half. The ball quickly continued to be given to Domask, who went head-to-head with Florida Atlantic to defend Illinois’ lead.

Domask’s efficiency was nothing short of ridiculous, shooting a whopping 15-21 from the field for a career-high 33 points. The paint became the forward’s territory, dominating the Owls who could not find an answer to Domask’s array of fadeaway jumpers and quick layups. Alongside Shannon, the graduate student set the record for the most points scored in a Jimmy V Men’s Classic game since Duke’s Jay Williams dropped 37 back in 2001.

*Terrence Shannon Jr. (A+)

The A-pluses don’t end with Domask. It was also a career night for Illinois’ star guard Shannon, who also managed to drop 33 massive points in another highlight performance for the books. While he did commit a team-high four turnovers, Shannon was able to refocus and, alongside Domask, take over the game with excellent 10-14 shooting. The Chicago native’s explosive ability to get to the rim was unstoppable against an FAU team that struggled to defend Illinois in the paint. If there was a game so far this season that proves Shannon is ready for the next level, it’s this one. His presence on the floor was felt throughout the game, and his night was highlighted not only by the win but also by a signature one-handed slam that caused the Garden to erupt. Now averaging 21.6 points a game, Shannon’s consistency can truly take this Illini team far.

*Coleman Hawkins (B)

Similar to his first game back from injury against Rutgers, Hawkins showed a lot to like on the defensive end but had some trouble on the offensive side. Early on he showed impressive effort to break up a lob attempt in transition and even earned four points in 13 seconds as a result of his active hands a bit later. Hawkins was in a bit of foul trouble (4) and struggled from distance (1-5), but his one make was incredibly timely and was a huge help in securing the win. Hawkins also sank two free throws shortly after and on both occasions turned Illinois’ lead from a single possession to a double possession.

*Ty Rodgers (B)

Even for a guy such as Rodgers who hangs his hat on the defensive end, this was an especially defensive-oriented night. He took just one shot but was extremely active navigating screens and bringing down rebounds. In just 24 minutes, Rodgers grabbed five rebounds and picked up three assists.

*Quincy Guerrier (B-)

Twenty-five seconds into the game, Guerrier got the Illini on the board with a tough make in the paint. That was about it for the graduate transfer, who played just 17 minutes and missed each of his next two shots. A successful trip to the free throw line, two defensive rebounds and two turnovers were all Guerrier recorded after the early make. 

Luke Goode (B-)

In response to an opening five minutes that saw both teams combine for seven points, Underwood’s counter was Goode. He immediately sank a shot from outside and jump-started the Illini offense. That ended up being Goode’s only made basket and he only took one more shot all game, but he got a crucial make at a time when Illinois needed it most.

Justin Harmon (A)

After playing out a strong performance at Rutgers, Harmon picked up right where he left off with an even better showing against the 11th-best team in the country. The efficient shooting seen previously was on display once again as the graduate student shot 3-5 from the field and a perfect 2-2 from three. Harmon was able to contribute triples at crucial points to spark scoring runs for the Illini and finished the night with 10 points, the most he’s scored in an Illinois uniform.

Dain Dainja (B-)

Dainja played a limited role off the bench once again with Hawkins in the lineup. However, despite being unable to make a huge impact on the game, the redshirt junior finished the night with four points on perfect 2-2 shooting from the field and recorded one block and rebound each.

Amani Hansberry (N/A)

Hansberry was given just three minutes on the floor. During that time, he scored two points and reeled in two rebounds.

Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (N/A)

The freshman guard recorded just two minutes against Florida Atlantic. The lone counting stat attributed to Gibbs-Lawhorn was a turnover. 

Nicollo Moretti (DNP)

Moretti is still out with a foot injury he suffered on Nov. 19 against Southern. It is unclear when the freshman guard will return.


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About the Contributors
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.
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!
James Hoeck
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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