Illinois rallies for impressive 69-60 victory against No. 24 Rutgers

19-0 run in second half lifts Illini

SHARE Illinois rallies for impressive 69-60 victory against No. 24 Rutgers
Rutgers at Illinois

Cam Spencer #10 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights shoots the ball against Sencire Harris #1 of the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first half at State Farm Center on February 11, 2023 in Champaign, Illinois.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Coleman Hawkins scored 18 points and Illinois held No. 24 Rutgers scoreless for more than 10 minutes in the second half, rallying for a 69-60 win Saturday.

The Illinois (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) trailed 47-41 with 14 1/2 minutes left before Hawkins’ 3-pointer started a 19-0 run.

Rutgers (16-9, 8-6) missed 15 straight shots during its drought.

Hawkins hit four consecutive shots — including a 3 — and gave the Illini the lead for good at 48-47.

Matthew Mayer scored his first points and drew a foul at the 7:25 mark, hit the ensuing free throw and made a 3 a possession later to give Illinois a 60-47 cushion with 6:45 left. Oskar Palmquist finally hit a jumper to break the Rutgers slump.

Hawkins also had eight rebounds. Dain Dainja and Terrence Shannon Jr. each added 15 points for the Illini.

Caleb McConnell and Clifford Omoruyi scored 14 points apiece to lead the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers led 34-30 at halftime after Paul Mulcahy hit consecutive jumpers and Illinois missed its last six shots.

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: An 0-2 mark on the road this week after losing starter Mawot Mag to a torn ACL doesn’t spell doom for the Scarlet Knights, who are solidly in the Big Ten mix behind No. 1 Purdue. Coach Steve Pikiell’s group could bolster its NCAA Tournament resume with a strong conference finish and a favorable schedule the rest of the way.

Illinois: The Illini started slow after a bit of unexpected rest following the postponement of a home game against last-place Minnesota, but surged behind strong efforts from Hawkins and Dainja. The lockdown defense didn’t hurt, either.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: Hosts struggling Nebraska on Tuesday.

Illinois: Visits Penn State on Tuesday.

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