Illinois Basketball Preview vs Penn State

IlliniGuys Staff and Illinois Sports Information

December 10, 2022

#17 ILLINOIS (7-2, 0-1) Basketball Game Notes

vs Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Dec. 10, 2022 | 11 a.m. CT | BTN | Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center


#17 ILLINOIS (7-2, 0-1) vs. Penn State (6-3, 0-1)
Date | Time Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 | 11 a.m. CT
Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center
Tickets Sold Out | Stub Hub
Television BTN (Dave Revsine & Robbie Hummel)
Live Stream | FOX Sports App
Radio  Busey Bank Illini Sports Network | Varsity Network App | SiriusXM 135/195, SXM App 957


Illinois Probable Starters
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Skyy Clark 6-3 200 Fr. 7.8 3.9 2.3 19 points (8-9 FG) vs Lindenwood
G 0 Terrence Shannon Jr. 6-6 215 Sr. 19.3 6.2 3.1 4th in B1G/39th in NCAA in scoring
G 15 RJ Melendez 6-7 205 So. 9.2 3.6 0.7 13.5 ppg over last 4 games (54)
G/F 24 Matthew Mayer 6-9 225 Gr. 7.3 4.2 1.3 21 pts (5-5 from 3) vs #2 Texas
F 33 Coleman Hawkins 6-10 225 Jr. 10.0 6.1 4.0 Triple-double v Syracuse (15p-10r-10a)
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Sencire Harris 6-4 160 Fr. 4.4 1.0 0.7 +13 in 18 minutes vs #2 Texas
F 2 Connor Serven 6-9 235 Jr. 0.2 0.8 0.0 Academic All-Big Ten
G 3 Jayden Epps 6-2 190 Fr. 10.0 1.8 1.6 11+ points in 6 of last 8 games
G 10 Luke Goode 6-7 200 So. 2.0 1.8 0.5 2021-22 stats; sidelined (foot surgery)
C 12 Brandon Lieb 7-0 220 Jr. 1.0 1.0 0.0 Academic All-Big Ten
G/F 20 Ty Rodgers 6-6 200 Fr. 1.7 3.0 1.4 1.9 assist/turnover ratio (13:7)
G 22 Paxton Warden 6-4 180 Fr. 0.0 0.0 0.0 Illinois state champion
F 42 Dain Dainja 6-9 270 r-So. 10.9 6.1 0.3 72.9% FG (43-59)


Career Record: 210-95 (.689), 10th year
At Illinois: 101-68 (.598), 6th year
Big Ten: 55-44 (.556)


All-Time Record: Illinois leads 32-19
Streak: Illinois W-4
Last Year's Meeting: #20 Illinois 60, Penn State 55 (March 3, 2022 at Champaign)
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 16-8
Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-2
Underwood vs. Penn State: 4-3

The Illini come into this game after winning three of their last five games. The Illini lost to then #16 Virginia 70-61 and to then #22 Maryland 71-66. Last time out, the Illini defeated #2 Texas 85-78 in OT in Madison Square Garden. After the Illini blocked 12 shots against the Longhorns, they come into the game averaging 6.2 blocks per game which has the Illini tied for 6th in nation.

The Nittany Lions come into the game with Jalen Pickett leading the team with 15.8 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 7.7 assists per game. Despite his strong play, the Nittany Lions come into the game with a 2-game losing streak. Penn State lost at home to Michigan State 67-58 and the game prior lost at Clemson in 2OT 101-94.

Currently, both the Illini and Penn State are winless in the Big Ten conference. Nebraska and Minnesota are also winless, along with Iowa who has yet to play a Big Ten conference game.


  • No. 17 Illinois will play its Big Ten home opener in front of a sold-out State Farm Center, hosting Penn State on Saturday morning (11 a.m. CT, BTN).
  • Illinois has won seven straight home games, the third-longest active streak in the Big Ten (13-PUR, 8-MD).
  • Illinois is coming off a win over No. 2 Texas in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday. It marked the program's eighth victory all-time over a top-2 team, and just the second away from home (at No. 2 Michigan, 3/2/21).
  • This is a match-up of the Big Ten's most prolific 3-point teams. Penn State leads the league and is fifth in the NCAA making 11.7 threes per game, while Illinois is second in the B1G and 25th nationally averaging 9.9 triples.
  • Penn State is the most experienced team in the nation according to kenpom, while Illinois is No. 300.
  • Illinois ranks ahead of only three power-5 teams in experience (Washington State, Oregon State, Louisville).
  • Illinois and Baylor are the only teams in the country with two kenpom top-10 wins.
  • Illinois ranks sixth in the country in blocked shots, averaging 6.2 bpg. The Illini tallied 12 rejections in the win over No. 2 Texas, its most blocks in a game in 11 years.
  • Illinois' two losses are away from home to teams with a combined 16-1 record: 8-0 Virginia in Las Vegas and at 8-1 Maryland.
  • Terrence Shannon Jr. leads the Fighting Illini, boasting averages of 19.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Shannon ranks 39th in the NCAA in scoring, and fourth among Big Ten players.
  • Shannon is one of just five players – and one of just two high-major players – averaging at least 19 points, six rebounds and three assists on the season (Jalen Wilson-Kansas, Drew Timme-Gonzaga, Jake Stephens-Chattanooga, Elijah Pepper-UC Davis).
  • Versatile point-center Coleman Hawkins is showcasing his all-around game this season, averaging 10.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals.
  • Hawkins is one of only two players in the country scoring in double figures along with averages of at least six boards, four assists, one block and one steal (Jalen Slawson-Furman).
  • Illinois reserves are combining to score 27.8 points per game. The Illini bench has outscored its opponent in eight of nine games, and by an average of 11.0 points.
  • The Illini defense is forcing 17.4 turnovers per game, ranking second in the B1G and 32nd in the NCAA. Illinois is scoring an average of 19.4 points off opponent turnovers.
  • Illinois is 2-2 versus ranked opponents this season and has won 13 of its last 21 games against Top 25 teams.
  • Illinois is 12-5 in its last 17 games versus top-10 teams.
  • Illinois has 11 wins over top-10 teams since 2019-20, second-most in the NCAA behind Baylor (12).
  • Illinois has seven newcomers among its current 9-man playing rotation. The Illinois rotation features six underclassmen: four true freshmen and two sophomores.
  • Illinois is No. 17 in the latest AP poll, released Monday. The Illini debuted at No. 23 in the preseason rankings, moved to No. 19 in week two, and were at No. 16 for two straight weeks.
  • Brad Underwood has Illinois in the Top 25 for a fourth straight season after leading the program to a final AP ranking of No. 21 in 2020, No. 2 in 2021, and No. 19 in 2022.
  • Illinois is a dramatically different team this season, welcoming three power-five transfers and a top-10 recruiting class to account for eight newcomers.
  • Illinois is replacing all five regular starters, its top five leading scorers, and a total of 10 players from last year's Big Ten champions. The Illini lost 86% of its points, 80% of its rebounds, and 83% of its minutes played from a year ago.
  • Illinois is the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last three seasons, registering a 44-17 mark in league play. The Illini won the regular season championship in 2022, led the conference in wins while adding a B1G Tournament crown in 2021, and finished one game back of the title in 2020.


  • Illinois recorded its eighth all-time win against an AP top-2 team, and just its second ever away from home. Both of those wins have been in Brad Underwood's tenure:
  1. 3/2/21 – #4 Illinois 76, #2 Michigan 53 (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
  2. 12/6/22 – #17 Illinois 85, #2 Texas 78, OT (New York, N.Y.)
  • Underwood is now 12-10 against AP Top-10 opponents at Illinois, including 2-0 this season.
  • Underwood is now 12-5 in his last 17 games against top-10 opponents.
  • Illinois improved to 7-5 in overtime games in the Underwood era.
  • Illinois blocked 12 shots against Texas, its most in a game in 11 years (13 vs. Loyola Chicago, 11/11/11).
  • Illinois has blocked at least seven shots in three-straight games.
  • Illinois fought back from a double-digit second-half deficit to claim victory for the second time this season:
  1. #8 UCLA (trailed by 15, 29-44, w/ 18 min. remaining), W, 79-70
  2. #2 Texas (trailed by 10, 46-56 w/ 8 min. remaining), W, 85-78 (OT)
  • The Illini defense forced 14 turnovers, reaching at least that number for the seventh time in nine games.
  • Matthew Mayer scored a season-high 21 points on 8-10 FG – including 5-5 from 3-point range – and had a career-high three blocks.
  • Mayer came within one of his career-high (22 vs. Norfolk State 3/20/22) and equaled his career high with five triples.
  • Mayer scored 15 of his 21 in the opening half, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor (3-3 from three).
  • Terrence Shannon Jr. finished with 16 points – 12 coming in overtime – and career-high three steals
  • Freshman Jayden Epps had 11 points, scoring in double figures for the fourth time in his last five games.
  • Epps scored Illinois' last five points of regulation, draining a baseline 3-pointer at :33 to bring UI within two and hitting a pair of free throws at :08 left to force overtime
  • Epps also hit a runner over Texas defender Marcus Car to put the Illini up three with 1:06 left in OT.
  • Coleman Hawkins scored nine points, secured a team-high seven rebounds, dished out a team-high four assists, and added three blocks.
  • Freshman Sencire Harris provided a spark once again, scoring five points, applying defensive pressure on the ball throughout his 18 minutes, and recording two blocks. Harris was +13 on the night.


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