Gophers can’t slow down Illini in a 78-60 loss
Illinois pulls away in 2nd half, outscoring Minnesota by 15 points
MINNEAPOLIS — A more than 30-year-old Illinois men’s basketball team was once nicknamed the “flying Illini.” Against the Gophers on Monday, this year’s squad were the driving Illini.
Illinois attacked the basket relentlessly in the second half of a runaway 78-60 win over Minnesota at Williams Arena.
Minnesota (7-9, 1-5 Big Ten) were a nine-point underdog but took a 36-35 lead one minute into the second half. The Gophers then gave up a 12-0 run, including three layups and three free throws. It stayed bad for the Barn’s home team.
Illinois (13-5, 4-3) shifted into fifth gear and outscored Minnesota 43-28 in the second half; a margin was worse if garbage time were subtracted.
Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr., the third-leading scorer in the Big Ten at 18 points per game, was limited to only four points in the first half. Shannon, Dain Dainja and Coleman Hawkins each saw limited playing time after picking up their second fouls. Shannon and Dainja, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, each finished with 11 points.
Matthew Mayer was the force with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Jamison Battle appeared to injure his back with three minutes left in the game. He went to the bench, not straight to the locker room.
Minnesota had a strong first half, with three lead changes and trailed Illinois 35-32. It could have been tied if Treyton Thompson hadn’t left Mayer open for a corner 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.
Dawson Garcia picked up where he left off after his career-high-tying 28 points in the 70-67 win over Ohio State on Thursday. Garcia had nine first-half points, he ended with 17.
The Gophers hosted three-star recruit Isaac Asuma for Monday’s game. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard from Iron, Minnesota and Cherry High School has eight Division I scholarship offers, including Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Iowa State. … Gophers and Illini players wore shooting shirts to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. The front had a picture of the civil rights trailblazer and a message on the back: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” … For the first time this season, the Gophers wore black alternate jerseys with a block maroon “M” on the front. … Former Gopher Kris Humphries watched Monday’s game from just behind the Gophers bench.
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