Illini depth shines in a 78-60 road win at Minnesota

Illinois basketball depth was tested on Monday. Facing a last-place Big Ten team, Illinois was able to overcome early trouble by three of its best players.

Matthew Mayer He led Illinois with 19 points (8-14 FG, 3-6 three) and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season to go along with two blocks to lead Illinois to a hard-fought win on the road in Minnesota on Monday.

Terence ShannonAnd Dane Dinga And Coleman Hawkins They all played limited minutes in the first half due to a foul issue, and Illinois hung on to only a 35-32 halftime lead. But every Illini played – including the freshmen Sensor Harris (seven points, eight rebounds, three assists) and Ty Rodgers (eight points, eight rebounds) and the quarterback is rarely used Brandon Lieb (Four points, two rebounds, one block) – Contributed to the win as Illinois dominated the second half 43-28.

Dainja 11 points (5-6 FG), Shannon added 11 points (2-12 FG), four rebounds and four assists. Jayden Epps He had 10 points (5-9 FG) to help Illinois (13-5, 4-3 Big Ten) win their fourth straight game after an 0-3 start to Big Ten play.

Dawson Garcia Minnesota (7-9, 1-5 Big Ten) led with 17 points (6-14 FG), and Tylon Cooper Added 16 points (7-11 FG), but Illinois kept the star Gophers Jamison Battle to eight points on a 4-for-11 shooting.

Illinois used an early 7-0 lead to take an 11-7 lead and then extended its lead to 17-11 after Dainja pulled back and Ty Rodgers. When the Illini Stars went to the bench with a bad problem, Minnesota slowly stormed out and took a 30-29 lead with 2:26 left in the half. But Meyer scored twice on three pointers in the final 2:10 to give Illinois a 35-32 halftime lead.

Full force in the second half, Illinois came from a 12-0 lead—during which Illini scored four and was capped by Hawkins on a step back 3—to lead 47-36. As Illinois built a lead from 55 to 41, Minnesota missed 11 of 12 shots in eight minutes. Illinois continued to build its lead over the final 11 minutes to end a dominant second half.

what do you mean: The victory in Minnesota is only a four win 3, but it’s one Illinois might not have won a few weeks ago when it looked disconnected and disjointed. Monday’s win was a ripe victory for a team that is beginning to find consistency. Illini players seem more stable and confident in their roles. Purdue may be hard to catch after a slow start, but Illinois is as talented as any top team — which is scary now that it’s playing as a team.

Game star: Matthew Mayer, who helped Illinois overcome foul troubles on Monday, sure looks like a top 20 team in the process now. After averaging just 5.6 points over his first eight games with Illinois, the Baylor transfer made the best stretch of his five-year college career. Over the last 10 games, Mayer has averaged 15.4 per game on over 50% shooting including 45% from three. Most importantly, Meyer plays really good basketball. He shares the ball and plays with more intensity and responsibility in defence. With five home over the next seven games, Illinois has a chance to get to the front of the Big Ten race.

Game stats:

  • Illinois edged Minnesota in the paint 54-28.
  • Illinois passed Minnesota 50-29.
  • The Illinois bench edged the Minnesota bench 27-13.
  • Minnesota shot 27.6% from the field in the second half.
  • Illinois had 11 turnovers. The Illini averaged 14.1 turnover over the first 14 games of the season. But during that four-win streak, Illinois averaged just 9.2 turnover. The opponents have scored just 22 points off turnover over the last three games.

Don’t overlook: Brandon Lieb He tied a career high with four points as he played a career-high 12 minutes on a foul problem against Dainja and Hawkins. Lieb is just an accurate spotting option, and his 7-footer can be utilized defensively at times. But the third-year center had some tough finishes in the basket and box. This earned him Underwood’s confidence to play long minutes, and Leap helped Illinois maintain its lead until the end of the first half.

Also, a freshman Ty Rodgers He started coming on his own. Top 50 recruits struggled early, but he’s now played more than 10 minutes in four of his last six Big Ten games, and gives Illinois a presence both on defense and on the glass. On Monday, he scored a career-high eight points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes.

What’s Next: Illinois hosts Indiana at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (FS1). Starting 7-0, Indiana lost six of its eight games against top opponents, including four straight road losses. Hoosiers (11-6, 2-4 Big Ten) are hurting seasoned rookies Xavier Johnson And Thompson Race Both are sidelined by injuries. Big man Trace Jackson Davis (17.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 blocks) Plays as an All-American and Galen Hood Chevinau (13.4 points, 4.5 assists) was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, but Indiana’s defense has slipped from No. 1 in defensive efficiency during Big Ten play last season to No. 8 so far this season.

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