Illinois Reaches Elite Eight, NCAA Men's Schedule


Published on March 29 2024 6:13 am
Last Updated on March 29 2024 6:14 am

BOSTON – Elite. Never trailing in the contest, third-seeded Illinois battled to a 72-69 win over No. 2 seed Iowa State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night at TD Garden to secure a spot in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005.

Six different Illini grabbed at least five rebounds, while the Orange and Blue made five of their final seven field-goal attempts to earn a berth in the next round. 

Terrence Shannon Jr. tallied a game-high 29 points, his seventh consecutive 20-point game. Making four 3-pointers, Shannon accounted for the Illini's final six points of the night despite being in foul trouble for a majority of the second half. He also totaled five rebounds, a team-high three steals, and two assists.

Shooting 50% from the field, Coleman Hawkins tallied 12 points, half of which came on his two 3-pointers. He grabbed six rebounds, and he made two steals.

Marcus Domask amassed seven points and hauled in six rebounds while going 3-for-3 from the stripe. He also dished out five assists, his fifth straight game with at least five helpers.

Luke Goode added eight points, including two 3-pointers and two key free throws with under two minutes to play. Both of his rebounds came on the offensive glass, and he tacked on one steal.

Dain Dainja recorded seven points and snagged three of his six boards on the offensive end of the floor. He also forced two steals.
Quincy Guerrier notched five points and five rebounds, while Ty Rodgers accumulated four points and six boards.

The Illini came out of the gates on an 8-0 run, a stretch that included 3-pointers from Shannon and Guerrier and a vicious flush from Hawkins. The Cyclones got on the board after being held scoreless for the first three-and-a-half minutes of play before Shannon made his second trey of the day to move the Illini advantage to 11-2 through the opening four minutes.

A 5-0 Iowa State run cut Illinois' advantage down to five points before Shannon's third triple and a Rodgers dunk pushed the Illini's edge into double digits, 16-6. The Cyclones went without a point for over five minutes during that Illini run, though Iowa State reduced its deficit to four with about nine minutes remaining in the first half.

Illinois quickly responded with a 10-1 scoring run, which featured a Hawkins triple and five points from Shannon, to push its edge up to 13 points. The two sides traded baskets the rest of the half, and the Orange and Blue went into the break with a 36-26 advantage.

Shannon's 16 points were a team-best mark at the intermission, while the Illini rattled in five 3-pointers during the opening 20 minutes of play. The Orange and Blue also assisted on nine of their 12 first-half field goals, while four players had multiple helpers before halftime.

The Cyclones began the second half with a 6-0 run, cutting the Illini deficit down to four points within the first two minutes of the frame. Shannon and Hawkins combined for a 5-2 run over the next 90 seconds, which brought the Orange and Blue's edge back up to seven.

Two minutes later, with Illinois' advantage back down to four points, a Hawkins transition dunk and a Goode 3-pointer fueled a 5-0 Illini run, moving the Orange and Blue's lead up to 46-37 with just over 13 minutes remaining in the contest.

Shannon reached the 20-point mark less than one minute later before Dain Dainja accounted for the team's next five points. Iowa State cut its deficit to two points with a 6-0 run before Dainja's layup doubled the Illini's advantage, 53-49, with nine minutes to go.

Illinois' edge was soon reduced back to two before the Illini ended a three-minute scoring drought via Domask, whose up-and-under layup fell through the net while he was fouled. The 3-point play extended the Orange and Blue's edge up to 56-51 with five-and-a-half minutes left to play.

Shannon, who sat for nearly six minutes after picking up his fourth foul, returned with 5:38 remaining in the second half. After Iowa State made a triple, Shannon responded with a 3-point make from the corner, his fourth 3-pointer of the contest. Goode then splashed in his second make from downtown to swing the contest to 62-56 in the Illini's favor with four minutes to go.

Dainja's dunk two minutes later helped the Illini maintain a six-point advantage before a 4-1 run for the Cyclones cut that lead in half with under a minute to play.

A free throw from Shannon added to that Orange and Blue edge before the Illini fifth-year guard recorded a steal and fast-break dunk, which allowed Illinois to retake a six-point edge, 70-64. Two more free throws from Shannon secured the victory and clinched a spot for the Fighting Illini in the Elite Eight.

(3) Illinois will remain in Boston and take on reigning champion  (1) Connecticut at TD Garden on Saturday evening, with tipoff slated for 5:09 p.m. CT on TBS.


NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Thursday, March 28 Scoreboard

Illinois 72, Iowa State 69

UConn 82, San Diego State 52

Alabama 89, North Carolina 87

Clemson 77, Arizona 72

Friday, March 29 Schedule (All Times Central)

NC State vs. Marquette, 6:09 p.m.

Gonzaga vs. Purdue, 6:39 p.m.

Duke vs. Houston, 8:39 p.m.

Creighton vs. Tennessee, 9:09 p.m.

Saturday, March 30 Schedule (All Times Central)

Illinois vs. UConn, 5:09 p.m.

Clemson vs. Alabama, 7:49 p.m.

Sunday, March 31

Two games TBD

Saturday, April 6

Final Four

Monday, April 8

NCAA  Tournament championship