The Illinois Fighting Illini have finally done something they haven’t been able to do all season: win a road game.
In his second game back from his concussion, junior forward Michael Finke’s 19 points off the bench propelled the Illini to a 75-62 road win against the Scarlet Knights.
Finke shot 6-of-10 from the field, 2-of-4 from deep and added six rebounds to his statline.
Another rotational player showed up big for Illinois as junior gaurd Aaron Jordan scored 15 points off the bench and collected five rebounds (four offensive) as well.
The Illini bench outscored the Scarlet Knights’ bench 37-to-5.
Black and Frazier combined for 48 points in the Illini’s last outing against Purdue on Thursday, Feb. 22. After 20 minutes of play against Rutgers, the two had a combined seven points and were 3-of-13 from the field.
Instead, the Illinois bench rose to the occasion in the first half, combining for 21 and giving the Illini a 35-30 lead over the Scarlet Knights heading into halftime.
Finke led all scorers at the break with 10 points, including an and-one fadeaway jumper.
Jordan wasn’t too far behind, chipping in eight points while also contributing in the rebound department. Jordan collected three offensive rebounds in the half.
Rutgers threw the first punch coming out of the second half, going on a 6-0 run after Black picked up his third foul with 19:05 left in the game.
But the Illini responded with back-to-back threes from Frazier and Finke. A strong baseline take from Jordan helped the team reclaim the lead and give the Illini a 45-38 advantage.
Jordan stretched the lead out to 48-40 when he hit all three free throws after being fouled from the corner. When the Scarlet Knights tried to tie the game after a 13-4 run by the Illini, Black officially entered the building. The junior star drilled two threes in about a minute, giving the Illini a 58-52 lead with eight minutes remaining in the game.
The Illini’s offensive rebounding kept the Scarlet Knights from making any significant run to climb back into the game. After Black had his shot pinned against the backboard, Finke came flying into the paint to grab the board. Finke was fouled and knocked down the ensuing free throws to put his team up 70-58, then the largest lead of the game for Illinois.
With a Northwestern victory tonight over Iowa, Illinois will see the Scarlett Knights yet again in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament come Thursday. An Iowa victory means a matchup against Illinois for the Hawkeyes.