No. 22 Illinois travels to New Jersey to face Rutgers

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No. 22 Illinois travels to New Jersey to face Rutgers

Illini sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu (11), freshman center Kofi Cockburn (21), sophomore guard Alan Griffin (0), and senior guard Andres Feliz (10) head to the bench for a timeout during the second half at State Farm Center on Feb. 11. Illinois travels to New Jersey Saturday to face Rutgers.

Illini sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu (11), freshman center Kofi Cockburn (21), sophomore guard Alan Griffin (0), and senior guard Andres Feliz (10) head to the bench for a timeout during the second half at State Farm Center on Feb. 11. Illinois travels to New Jersey Saturday to face Rutgers.

Illini sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu (11), freshman center Kofi Cockburn (21), sophomore guard Alan Griffin (0), and senior guard Andres Feliz (10) head to the bench for a timeout during the second half at State Farm Center on Feb. 11. Illinois travels to New Jersey Saturday to face Rutgers.

Illini sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu (11), freshman center Kofi Cockburn (21), sophomore guard Alan Griffin (0), and senior guard Andres Feliz (10) head to the bench for a timeout during the second half at State Farm Center on Feb. 11. Illinois travels to New Jersey Saturday to face Rutgers.

By Gabby Hajduk, Staff Writer

No. 22-ranked Illinois basketball will play in one of the toughest Big Ten atmospheres on Saturday afternoon. Illinois travels to New Jersey for a matchup with Rutgers who is undefeated (16-0) at home.

The Illini (16-8, 8-5) and the Scarlet Knights (17-8, 8-6) are both coming off conference losses. Illinois fell to Michigan State 70-69 last Tuesday extending its now three-game losing streak while Rutgers lost to Ohio State 72-66 last Wednesday in Columbus.

The biggest question following Illinois’ Tuesday night loss is the health status of sophomore Ayo Dosunmu. The guard, who was named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team on Thursday, slipped at the end of the Michigan State game and appeared injured on the floor. On Wednesday, Illinois basketball announced Dosunmu’s MRI showed no structural damage, but the official status of his injury is still unknown.

In the case of Dosunmu’s absence, the Illini will need to pick up nearly 16 points of production. The Illini would look for increased scoring from senior Andrès Feliz and sophomores Alan Griffin and Tevian Jones if Dosunmu is out.

Feliz is averaging 15.2 points and six rebounds over the last five games. Jones has seen his court time increase as he played seven minutes against Michigan State after playing just two against Maryland last Friday. Griffin has scored nine points in the last two games, averaging 49.2 percent shooting from the field.

Rutgers sophomore Ron Harper Jr. leads a balanced attack with seven Rutgers’ players averaging over seven points a game. Harper Jr. averages 11.2 points per game and adds 5.6 rebounds per game. Junior Geo Baker is second to Harper Jr. with 10.1 ppg. Baker leads the Scarlet Knights with 75 assists and 36 steals.

Illinois and Rutgers met earlier this season in Champaign which ended in a 54-51 win for the Illini. Dosunmu led all scorers with 18 points. Freshman Kofi Cockburn recorded his seventh double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds.

Junior Jacob Young led Rutgers on Jan. 11 with 11 points but is currently averaging 8.6 ppg. Harper Jr. scored nine points in the loss.

Illinois and Rutgers are scheduled to tip off at 3:30 p.m. CT at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

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