#13 Illini Outscore Gophers In 105-97 Shootout

By IlliniGuys Staff

February 28, 2024

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 29 points and went over the 1,000 point mark as an Illini as 13th ranked Illinois held off a determined Minnesota team to post a 105-97 victory Wednesday night at State Farm Center.

It was Illinois' highest scoring Big Ten regulation game in 30 years and puts them one step closer to securing a double-bye in next month's conference tournament.

Marcus Domask added 22 points, Coleman Hawkins with 20, Dain Dainja had 11 points off the bench, and Quincy Guerrier had 10 for Illinois (21-7, 12-5 in Big Ten), which stays one game ahead of Northwestern for second place in the conference standings.  The Wildcats beat Maryland earlier in the evening to improve to 11-6, one game behind Illinois.

Shannon, who transferred from Texas Tech after three seasons, becomes the 53rd Illini player to score 1,000 points and just the 19th to do it over the course of two seasons.  He now has 1,106 points, good for 51st place just behind Kendrick Nunn.  Shannon now has 482 points this season.  With four games left in the regular season and at least two tournament games remaining, the Chicago native has a shot at becoming the 10th Illini to score 600 points in a single season.  Shannon is also 69 points away from 2,000 for his entire career.

Despite the win, the Illinois defense continues to be a concern as they allowed the Gophers to shoot 60 percent from the field, the best shooting night by an Illini opponent since Indiana shot 62 percent in a win at State Farm Center on January 19th of last year.

Since handcuffing Florida Atlantic in early December, the Illini have held just one opponent to under 40 percent shooting in the 15 games since and this is the first time in four games this season that Illinois has posted a win when allowing a team to shoot above 50 percent from the field.  This is the fourth consecutive game and sixth in the last seven that the Illini have allowed 80 points or more.

Meanwhile, it's the third game in which Illinois has shot better than 60 percent; Florida Atlantic (63.2%) in New York City in December, Northwestern (62.5%) in a 30-point blowout in early January, and 61.3 percent on this night against the Golden Gophers.  All three resulted in Illini wins.

Hawkins continued his hot shooting from Saturday's career-high 30 points in the win over Iowa, scoring the Illini's first eight points in the game and putting up a team-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half.  Shannon then took over, scoring 16 of his points after halftime.

But Illinois couldn't shake Minnesota, which shot 53 percent from the field in the first half.  Arlington Heights native Cam Christie leading the way with 16 points, including 4-of-4 from the three-point arc.  Minnesota shot a blistering 70 percent (14-of-20) from three-point range, but failed to get the victory. Dawson Garcia led the Gophers with 29 points with Christie finishing with 23 for Minnesota (17-11, 8-9).

Illinois travels to Wisconsin on Saturday (12pm, BTN) to face a Badgers team that lost at Indiana Tuesday night and has dropped six of its last eight after starting conference play 8-1.  An Illini win and they will clinch a top four finish in the Big Ten regular season and a double-bye in the conference tourney in Minneapolis.

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete postgame coverage.

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