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Second-Half Surge Sends Illinois Past Morehead State in NCAA Tournament Opener



Second-Half Surge Sends Illinois Past Morehead State in NCAA Tournament Opener

OMAHA, Neb. – Third-seeded Illinois pulled away within the second half to safe an 85-69 victory over No. 14 seed Morehead State within the first spherical of the NCAA Event on Thursday afternoon at CHI Well being Middle Omaha. The Preventing Illini shot 60.7% within the second half and outscored the Eagles 46-31 to safe their first NCAA Event win since 2022.

Marcus Domask recorded his first-career triple-double, registering 12 factors, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. It marks the sixth triple-double in Illinois’ program historical past, the primary by an Illini within the NCAA Event, and solely the tenth total in NCAA Event historical past. Having already recorded double-digit boards and assists, Domask capped off the triple-double efficiency with a dagger 3-pointer on the 2:58 mark of the second half, the workforce’s last discipline purpose of the sport.

Tallying a season-best scoring complete, Dain Dainja scored 17 of his 21 factors within the second half whereas capturing an ideal 9-for-9 from the sector. Dainja additionally grabbed eight rebounds, together with three on the offensive glass, and he made two blocks to match his season-best tally.

Terrence Shannon Jr. completed with a team-high 26 factors, his fifth consecutive sport with a minimum of 20 factors. Totaling 19 factors within the first half, Shannon went 2-for-3 from the sector within the second interval of play. He additionally amassed 4 assists, two rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Shannon’s efficiency provides him 669 factors for the season, breaking the Illinois program single-season scoring document by one level. 

Coleman Hawkins gathered 10 factors, and he went 2-for-3 from 3-point vary. He additionally tacked on 5 assists, 4 rebounds, two steals, and one block.

Luke Goode tallied 9 factors on three 3-pointers. He additionally hauled in 4 rebounds. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn added six factors off the bench, pulling down a pair of 3-pointers late within the first half. 

After Morehead State opened the sport 9-0, Illinois settled in and responded with a 9-2 run to chop its deficit down to 2 factors. Shannon had seven of the Illini’s first 9 factors, although the Eagles held an early 11-9 benefit.

Dainja and Shannon mixed for the Orange and Blue’s first 13 factors. With Morehead State forward by six, Goode linked from 3-point vary to chop Illinois’ deficit to 19-16, with simply over 12 minutes remaining within the first half. Shannon then moved into double figures with a steal and transition dunk, transferring the Illini’s deficit down to 1, 19-18.

Shannon made his first 3-pointer of the afternoon earlier than Hawkins accounted for the Illini’s subsequent 5 factors, which got here on a dunk and stepback three, the latter of which moved Illinois’ deficit again to 1 level.

Hawkins’ triple began an 11-2 run for the Illini. Shannon’s and-1 layup lower than one minute later put Illinois in entrance for the primary time earlier than Gibbs-Lawhorn linked from 3-point land. Shannon one way or the other obtained an acrobatic layup to fall by contact, which rounded out the two-and-a-half-minute run and put the Orange and Blue in entrance, 34-29.

Domask picked up his first factors simply over one minute later earlier than Gibbs-Lawhorn rattled in his second trey of the day, which tied his career-best mark and signaled the Illini’s last discipline purpose of the primary half.

Illinois went into the intermission with a 39-38 benefit, led by a team-high 19 factors from Shannon. The Illini obtained 13 factors from their bench, which included six from Gibbs-Lawhorn and 4 for Dainja.

Morehead State retook the lead early within the second half earlier than Shannon made one of many performs of the day. Diving on the ground to trace down a unfastened ball earlier than throwing it again off a defender’s knee, Shannon moved previous the 20-point mark for the fifth consecutive sport with a layup on the following possession to place Illinois briefly again in entrance.

Dainja then accounted for the Illini’s subsequent 9 factors, which moved him into double figures for the eighth time this season and for the second time in his final 4 video games. Dainja scored 11 factors throughout a 14-3 Illini run, which he capped off with an emphatic transition dunk to pressure a Morehead State timeout. That stretch, which spanned four-and-a-half minutes, gave Illinois its largest lead at that time within the contest, 57-48, with 12 minutes to play.

A 3-pointer from the Eagles lower Morehead State’s deficit all the way down to single digits, however that didn’t final for lengthy. A 9-0 run, which included factors from 4 totally different Illini scorers, over a two-minute stretch pushed Illinois’ edge as much as 17 factors with 9 minutes remaining.

5 straight factors from Hawkins, together with his second 3-pointer, moved the Illini’s benefit over the 20-point mark. Having already reached double-digit assists and rebounds, Domask then knocked down two 3-pointers within the span of 90 seconds, which clinched his triple-double.

Main by as many as 24, the Illini closed the competition on a 42-24 run to safe a spot within the second spherical of postseason motion.

Illinois now performs Saturday within the second spherical vs. Eleventh-seeded Duquesne. 



Participant Notes

  • Terrence Shannon Jr. recorded a team-high 26 factors, whereas including 4 assists, two steals and two blocks. 
    • Set Illinois’ 58-year-old single-season scoring document (668 factors by Don Freeman in 1965-66), ending the sport with 26 factors to maneuver him 669 on the yr. 
    • Scored in double figures for the thirty ninth straight sport
    • Recorded a number of 3-pointers in his fifth straight sport and for the ninth time in his final 10 outings.
    • Has scored 20+ factors in 19 video games as an Illini, tied for second-most on this system’s all-time listing (since 1971). 
    • Recorded a number of blocks and a number of steals in the identical sport for the second time this season.
  • Marcus Domask recorded a triple-double with 12 factors, and game-highs of 11 rebounds and 10 assists. 
    • Recorded the sixth triple-double in Illinois males’s basketball historical past.
    • Grew to become the fifth totally different participant to document a triple-double in program historical past becoming a member of Coleman Hawkins, Ayo Dosunmu (twice), Sergio McClain, and Mark Smith (1979).
    • Tallied the tenth triple-double in NCAA Event historical past becoming a member of Murray State’s Ja Morant (2019), Michigan State’s Draymond Inexperienced (twice, 2011 and  2012), Kansas’ Cole Aldrich (2009), Marquette’s Dwyane Wade (2003), Utah’s Andre Miller (1998), St. John’s David Cain (1993), LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal (1992), and Michigan’s Gary Grant (1987).
    • Scored in double figures for the twenty seventh time this season.
    • Grabbed double-digit rebounds for the third time this season.
    • Dished out double-digit assists for the second time this season, his third straight sport with a minimum of eight.
  • Dain Dainja posted 21 factors, eight rebounds, and two blocks. 
    • Secured a season-high 21 factors, together with 17 within the second half.
    • Scored in double figures for the eighth time this season.
    • Shot an ideal 9-for-9 from the sector, and is 13-for-13 from the sector over his final two video games. 
    • Tied a season excessive with two blocks.
  • Coleman Hawkins recorded 10 factors, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, two steals and a block.
    • Poured in double-digit factors for the twentieth sport this season. 
    • Linked on two 3-pointers, his sixteenth sport with a number of 3-point makes.
    • Had 5+ assists for the seventh time this season.
  • Luke Goode recorded 9 factors and 4 rebounds.  
    • Knocked down three 3-pointers, his Eleventh sport with 3+ triples this season.
  • Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn added six factors and one rebound. 
    • Linked on each of his 3-point makes an attempt within the last 5:19 of the primary half. 
    • Registered a number of makes from 3-point vary for the second time this season and for the primary time for the reason that Illini’s regular-season opener towards Jap Illinois on Nov. 6..

Staff Notes

  • Illinois improves to 27-8, the third-most wins in program historical past and the workforce’s most victories in 23 years for the reason that 2000-01 workforce completed 27-8 throughout its run to the Elite Eight.
  • Thursday’s win marked the 250th of head coach Brad Underwood‘s profession in 11 complete seasons at Stephen F. Austin, Oklahoma State, and Illinois. 
  • Illinois is now 43-34 all-time in NCAA Event video games. 
  • The Illini enhance to 32-16 as the upper (higher) seed within the NCAA event and are actually 4-3 all-time as a No. 3 seed, and 3-2 all-time vs. the No. 14 seed.  
  • Illinois is now 25-9 when enjoying its opening sport of the NCAA Event and has received its first sport in 5 of its final six NCAA Event appearances (2011, 2013, 2021, 2022, and 2024)
  • Illinois’ 12 3-pointers are tied for third in program historical past in an NCAA Event sport. 
  • The Illini dished out 24 assists, tied for third most in an NCAA Event sport in program historical past.   
  • Illinois’ seven blocks broke this system document for many rejections in an NCAA Event sport set in 2002.  
  • Illinois advances to face No. 11 seed Duquesne on Saturday. The Illini are 2-1 all-time vs. Duquesne, together with a win within the 1952 NCAA Event, however the applications haven’t met for the reason that 1989-90 season.
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