Illini Outslug Iowa State 72-69 To Earn NCAA Elite Eight Bid

By IlliniGuys Staff

March 29, 2024

BOSTON, Mass. - Terrence Shannon Jr. scored a game-high 29 points to help Illinois overcome a horrendous shooting night at the free throw line to upset Iowa State 72-69 in the NCAA Tournament's East Region semifinal Thursday night.

Illinois (29-8) now moves on to face defending national champion and tournament top seed UConn on Saturday with a Final Four berth on the line.

"They're (UConn) the national champs for a reason.  But we came here to win two games, not one.  They're just the next one up on the schedule", Illinois coach Brad Underwood told TBS' Andy Katz after the game.

Illinois never trailed in the game, jumping out to an early 16-6 lead as Shannon hit a trio of three pointers.  But the Illini hit just 7-of-16 on their free throw attempts to allow the Cyclones (29-8) to stay within ten points at halftime, 36-26, despite making just 29 percent of their field goals.

The Big 12 tournament champs woke up in the second half.  With Shannon benched with four fouls, Iowa State chipped away at the lead to close within 53-51.  But Marcus Domask, who struggled through a 2-of-11 shooting night, sank a physical layup and hit the and-one to pull Illinois back up 56-51. The Illini locked down on defense again, allowing just two field goals in the final two minutes to secure the victory.

After allowing 70 points or more in nine of their last ten games entering the NCAA tournament, Illinois has now held at three opponents under 70 with an average of 67 points allowed per game while averaging 82 points scored per outing.

Shannon turned a steal into a fastbreak dunk and hit two free throws in the final 3o seconds to deliver the Illini victory.  He becomes the first Illini player to score 700 points in a season (728) and the first Illini to have three games with 25 points or more in an NCAA tournament.

Shannon finished 5-of-10 at the line and Illinois ended up 15-of-29 on its free throws.

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete coverage from Boston.

 

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