Illini Rally To Top Buckeyes In Big Ten Opener, 77-74

By IlliniGuys Staff

March 15, 2024

(Photo courtesy Joe Pickrell/IlliniGuys)

MINNEAPOLIS, Mn. - Terrence Shannon Jr. scored a game-high 28 points and Dain Dainja came off the bench to add 18 points and eight rebounds in his hometown as 13th ranked Illinois rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to defeat Ohio State 77-74 in the Big Ten quarterfinals Friday night.

The win lifts the Illini (24-8) into Saturday afternoon's semifinal matchup against either Nebraska or Indiana (2:30pm CST, CBS).

Illinois led 31-29 at halftime before Ohio State opened the second half on an 8-0 run and forced the Illini to play catchup for the rest of the way.

They were down 56-46 with 11:00 to play when Dainja took control.  The junior center has had limited playing time for much of the season, but averaged 13 minutes per game coming into the tournament.  The Brooklyn Park, Minnesota native teamed up with Shannon to score 25 of Illinois' final 31 points.  He finished with 12 points in the second half in his most productive effort in a Big Ten game this season.

After a series of late game failures in recent weeks, the Illinois defense stepped up in the clutch.  The Illini allowed just one field goal in the final two minutes while draining all six free throw attempts in the final moments to earn the win.  Illinois allowed fewer than 80 points for the third game in a row after surrendering 80 or more in six of their previous seven games.

Ty Rodgers posted his third career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds as the Illini climb to within one victory of the program's tenth 25-win season.

Ohio State (20-13) sees its five-game win streak snapped and its NCAA tournament hopes dashed.  The Buckeyes are 6-2 under interim coach Jake Diebler, but will likely play next in the National Invitational Tournament.

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete postgame coverage from the Target Center.

 

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