CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — There was no finals week slump for the Illini.
The orange and blue controlled this one from start to finish. Behind 16 points from Coleman Hawkins, Illinois beat Colgate 74-57 in commanding fashion.
Despite being off for more than a week since the Tennessee loss, the lllini came out hot, starting the game on a 14-0 run.
“Terrific start today,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “It impacted so much of the way that game went.”
Even after Colgate (6-5) got it to within seven when the score was 23-16, Illinois (8-2, 1-0 Big Ten) was able to comfortably pull away, taking a 44-27 lead into halftime.
At the break, Terrence Shannon Jr. led all scorers with 14 points along with 3 blocks on the defensive side of the ball. No other player on either team ended the half in double digits.
Aside from Shannon, Hawkins was able to knock down a pair of three’s and ended up with 8 points in the first 20 minutes.
Illinois slowed down a lot coming out of the half, opening the second outscoring Colgate just 9-8 in the first 10 minutes.
Colgate once again got to within 9, fueled by a 13-2 run where the Raiders made 8 consecutive shots.
However, the Illini defense flexed their muscles on the perimeter, as they held the Raiders to just 1-of-7 shooting from three in the second half.
While Illinois won without any serious threat, Colgate was effective in transition and the orange and blue struggled from the three point line. The win was fairly comfortable, but there’s definitely still room for improvement.
Shannon continued to play at an All-American level on both ends of the floor, shooting 4-of-4 from the free throw line, finishing with 5 blocks and a player efficiency of 13.
“How good was Terrence Shannon? Yikes,” Underwood said. “[Colgate’s] Braeden Smith is a terrific basketball player, I don’t think he scored on Terrence. The job he did on him was elite.”
Four Illini players finished with double-digit points: Hawkins had a team-high 16, Quincy Guerrier and Marcus Domask scored 15 each and Shannon ended up with 14 despite not scoring in the second half.
“We don’t need Terrence to score 30,” Underwood said. “We need a lot of guys to be able to participate and do some things.”
Sunday served as a reset game and it was important for Illinois to get back in the win column with a complete game performance.
“You guys have no idea how hard finals week is, there’s so many distractions,” Underwood said. “But that’s the maturity of our group, they stayed focused and the start was huge today.”
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
TSJ is almost impossible to stop in transition.
One of the best two way players in the country.
- The Illini dominated the Raiders on the glass, out-rebounding them 43-25 down low. “Rebounding was obviously a huge key,” Underwood said. “Against a team that’s much bigger than us.”
- The orange and blue once again got it done from the charity stripe shooting 20-of-22 on free throws. If this trend can continue from the line, this could win some very important games for Illinois this season.
- The Illini were stingy on perimeter defense today, holding to Colgate to just 3-of-15 from behind the arc.
TWEET OF THE GAME
You love to see it.
High knees at Colgate vs Illinois pic.twitter.com/UWtJFaVXAE— Jeffrey Anderson Fan Account (@highkneesref) December 17, 2023
Illinois will head to St. Louis to take on Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game this Friday.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on FS1.