Illini survive Indiana scare

Illini survive Indiana scare.
By Nick Jenkinson\Excel H Sports

The #7 Excel H Sports Ranked Illinois Fighting Illini held off the Indiana Hoosiers 70-62 Saturday Afternoon at the State Farm Center in Champaign Illinois. The Illini are 15-5 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten while the Hoosiers fall to 12-8 on the season and 4-6 in the Big Ten. Indiana has dropped three straight and will host Iowa on Tuesday Night while Illinois travels to Ohio State on Tuesday Night. Indiana leads the all-time series 96-92 as Illinois snaps a three-game losing streak to the Hoosiers to win for the first time in series since 2020 and their first win in Champaign against Indiana since December 26, 2020.

Malik Reneau led the Hoosiers with 21 points and Freshman Mackenize Mgbako got his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Xavier Johnson scored 14 points but received a technical foul at the end of the first half for throwing the ball at Illinois Forward Coleman Hawkins face after Johnson scored and the teams had to be separated. Illinois would hit two free throws and the ball out of bounds to start the second half after the Illini led 38-34 at halftime. Illinois would outscore the Hoosiers 32-28 in the second half.

Trey Galloway scored 8 points, Anthony Walker added 5 points and got his first career start as a Hoosier in place of Kel’el Ware out missed his second straight game with a lower leg injury. Anthony Leal who has missed the last three games with an injury scored 2 points. Payton Sparks and Gabe Cupps played but did not score. The Hoosiers finished the game 25-54 from the field for 46%, 0-9 from three-point range and 12-22 from the free throw line for 54%. It was the first time since February 25, 2010, that the Hoosiers did not hit a three pointer when Indiana went 0-5 in a 78-46 loss at Wisconsin. The Hoosiers had 35 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks and committed 9 turnovers.

Marcus Domask led Illinois with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Terrance Shannon Jr. scored 12 points and went 8-10 at the free throw line. Coleman Hawkins and Ft. Wayne Indiana Native Luke Goode added 11 points apiece along with 3 points from Lafayette Indiana native Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn. Illinois finished 23-62 from the field for 37%, 7-23 from three-point range for 30% and 17-26 from the free throw line for 65%. Illinois pulled down 42 rebounds, 8 assists, 6 steals, 4 blocks and committed 9 turnovers.

Indiana opened the game on a 5-0 run as Illinois scored just 8 points in the first ten minutes of the game. Indiana led 20-12 with 8:13 left in the first half. Luke Goode’s three pointer with 3:28 left in the first half tied the game 28-28. Ty Rodgers free throw gave Illinois its first lead at 29-28 with 2:50 left. Malik Reneau put the Hoosiers on top 30-29 with 2:26 before Rodgers free throw tied the game at 30-30. Illinois went on 8-0 run before the Hoosiers scored four points to end the first half down 4 points.

The Hoosiers tied the game at 62-62 with 1:29 left when Mackenize Mgbako scored to tie the game, but the Illini scored the final eight points as Terrance Shannon Jr. knocked down six free throws and Justin Harmon hit a jumper to close out the Hoosiers.  Indiana tied the game at 42-42 with 15:32 left and took the lead 43-42 on a Malik Reneau free throw. Xavier Johnson’s made layup gave Indiana three-point lead with 14:52 left and Mackenize Mgbako’s layup extended the lead to seven with 14:03 left the Reneau made it 49-42 with 12:43 left to give the Hoosiers a seven-point lead. Illinois went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead with 8:57 left.

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