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Illinois splits season series with Minnesota

Frazier’s big game wasn’t enough for the Illini.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The magical year it was for Illinois against Minnesota ended Wednesday night in Minneapolis.

After defeating the Gophers in Football, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Basketball earlier this academic year, Minnesota finally got its revenge. Despite Trent Frazier’s biggest game in one ra month, a second half Minnesota run was enough for a 86-75 win at Williams Arena.

Illinois’ first Big Ten win of the season was its 27-point home blowout of Minnesota on Jan. 16, and the Illini looked to follow it up with another over the Gophers exactly two weeks later. In the first win, freshmen Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili combined for 43 points, and the sophomore Frazier decided to join the party on Wednesday.

Frazier scored a game-high 13 points in the first half, bookending the half with three-pointers, including a last-second three from the top of the key. He added the first four points in the second half for Illinois, making it a streak of 12 straight points for the sophomore at one point. Frazier finished with 30 points.

It wasn’t just Frazier, however. Illinois (6-15, 2-8 Big Ten) had solid performances from nearly all of its underclassmen on offense, with Dosunmu and Bezhanishvili combining for 11 points in the first half, as the Illini led 39-37 at the break.

But the freshman who really showed out for the Illini before the break was freshman Tevian Jones. After scoring a career-high 18 points in Illinois’ upset victory over Maryland on Saturday, Jones finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, which included a pair of alley-oops in the first half.

The quick first-half pace led to nine ties and eight lead changes, much of which was a result of the Illini’s inability to stop Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy. One of the conference’s all-time leading rebounders, Murphy slammed home four dunks and 10 points in the opening half.

Once Frazier stopped scoring, Minnesota (16-5, 6-4 Big Ten) used an 13-1 run midway through the second half to propel itself to a seven-point lead (55-48) — its biggest lead of the game. Andres Feliz ended the drought with a corner three. The Gophers kept making their shots and matters got worse for the Illini as the lead ballooned to as high as 16.

Illinois’ defense essentially came off the rails in the second half after allowing just 37 in the opening 20 minutes. The Gophers scored 38 second-half points in the first 14 minutes of the second half, while Illinois suffered several lengthy droughts and couldn’t find a way to get any semblance of a post game.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

AJ For 3: Out of a Minnesota timeout with under seven minutes remaining in the first half, Aaron Jordan hit his only three-pointer in four first-half attempts. The bucket put an end to the Gophers’ 8-2 run and pushed the Illini ahead 28-25. It may not have been the basket that gave Illinois the lead for good, but it was an important drought-busting shot from the senior who has been struggling on offense — while giving it everything he has on the boards.

ADLRF1: Adonis De La Rosa entered Wednesday’s game having played solid defensively as of late, but picked up three fouls — including a flagrant one in the second half — that put the game out of reach for Illinois.

TWEET OF THE GAME

Caption this:

SOUND SMART

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

This from Tevian. For three more years. That’s my wish.

UP NEXT

Illinois returns home for the first of three consecutive games at State Farm Center on Saturday afternoon at 1:15 p.m. CT vs. Nebraska. The Illini follow that up with home contests against Michigan State and Rutgers over the next week before heading on the road to Columbus.

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