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Trent Frazier’s big second half not enough vs. No. 3 Gonzaga

A good effort against the No. 3 team in the nation.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Illinois Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

If you stayed up, you made a good choice.

Illinois’ opening round game versus Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational started at 10:35 p.m. CT on Monday night, and for a half it didn’t seem that fans would be rewarded for not going to bed.

Then came the second half — and Trent Frazier.

Returning from a concussion after missing Illinois’ loss to Georgetown last Tuesday, Frazier went off for 27 points in the second half against the No. 3 Bulldogs, but Illinois still came up short in a 84-78 loss. Illinois will play former Illini targets George Conditt and Talen Horton-Tucker and Iowa State on Tuesday in the consolation bracket.

It was a back-and-forth, sloppy mess of a first half. Freshman dancing sensation Giorgi Bezhanishvili got the Illini started early with 11 first-half points and three rebounds, and Aaron Jordan also gave Illinois a nice spark after finishing with just one point against Georgetown last Tuesday. The senior hit two big three-pointers when Illinois was stalling on the offensive side of the floor.

But it was Gonzaga’s 14 first-half turnovers keeping Illinois within striking distance, trailing by seven after the Bulldogs ended the half on a 5-0 run.

After missing the last game with a concussion, Trent Frazier was cleared to play and returned to his spot in the starting lineup Monday night. It was a slow start for the sophomore who converted on just 1-of-6 attempts from the field.

Gonzaga showed why it is the No. 3 team in the country in the second half. The Bulldogs built on their 7-point halftime lead by cutting down on turnovers and taking advantage of wide open three-point attempts.

Frazier began to find his groove in the second, and freshman Alan Griffin played his best minutes of his young Illinois career down the stretch as well. In a span of roughly a minute and a half, the 6-foot-5 wing from New York came up with a blocked shot, hit back-to-back free throws, and then had a nice take to the rack.

TWEET OF THE GAME

UP NEXT

Illinois enters the consolation bracket with a rivalry game...against Iowa State.

The Illini will face former targets George Conditt and Talen Horton-Tucker of the Cyclones after Iowa State fell in a tight Quarterfinal game versus Arizona.

Tip-off is schedule for 4 p.m. CT on ESPN2.