By IlliniGuys Staff
November 29, 2022
(Cover photo courtesy Joe Clark/IlliniGuys)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Coleman Hawkins recorded his first career triple-double and Brad Underwood got his 100th victory as Illinois' coach as the 16th ranked Illini defeated Syracuse, 73-44.
Hawkins scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists to become just the 4th player in Illini history to record a triple-double, joining former teammate Ayo Dosunmu, Sergio McClain, and Mark Smith.
It was the Orange's first-ever visit to Champaign and the final game for both teams in the soon-to-be cancelled ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The famed Syracuse zone defense paid dividends early on for the visiting Orange, as the Illini hit just one of their first nine attempts from outside the arc and were just 5-of-17 from the field overall. That's when Jayden Epps and Terrence Shannon broke the seal. Down 15-12, the pair keyed a 14-5 run started by Epps hitting from the arc and ending with Shannon draining a trio of threes to lift Illinois to its biggest advantage at 26-20.
Then the Illinois defense locked in, holding Syracuse scoreless for the final 4:55 of the half for a 30-23 lead at the break. The Orange's field goal drought continued into the second half as they went 7:34 without making a basket. Syracuse finally broke through with a Justin Taylor three-pointer at the 17:21 mark in the second half, but that was the first of only seven field goals after halftime for the Orange (3-4).
Illinois (6-1) got 17 points from Shannon, 15 each from Hawkins and RJ Melendez, and 11 from Epps off the bench as they recorded their 5th victory by at least 25 points this season.
Underwood is in his sixth season as the Illini head coach with a record of 100-67, becoming the sixth head coach in program history to reach the century mark. This is his third 6-1 start to a season since taking over the Illinois program.
The Illini now travel to College Park, Maryland on Friday as they meet the Terrapins in the first Big Ten game of the season. That will be an 8pm tipoff on Big Ten Network.
Stay with IlliniGuys.com for more on Tuesday night's big win.
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