Illini travel to Minnesota to face Gophers on MLK Day


Illinois Probable Starters
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Sencire Harris 6-4 160 Fr. 3.8 1.8 0.8 Started last 5 games (Illini are 4-1)
G 0 Terrence Shannon Jr. 6-6 225 Sr. 18.0 5.8 3.1 22.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg over last 3 games
G/F 24 Matthew Mayer 6-9 225 Gr. 10.6 4.5 1.2 19 pts, career-high 6 blk vs Michigan St.
F 33 Coleman Hawkins 6-10 225 Jr. 10.1 6.2 3.5 B1G-high 8 reb vs Michigan St.
F 42 Dain Dainja 6-9 270 r-So. 10.4 5.9 0.5 B1G-high 20 pts, 7 reb vs Michigan St.
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
F 2 Connor Serven 6-9 235 Jr. 0.2 0.8 0.0 Academic All-Big Ten
G 3 Jayden Epps 6-2 190 Fr. 9.6 2.1 1.7 Career-high 5 ast vs Michigan St.
G 5 AJ Redd 6-3 160 Fr. 0.0 0.0 0.0 Former manager now on roster
G 10 Luke Goode 6-7 200 So. 2.0 1.8 0.5 2021-22 stats; sidelined (foot injury)
C 12 Brandon Lieb 7-0 220 Jr. 1.0 1.3 0.1 Academic All-Big Ten
G 15 RJ Melendez 6-7 205 So. 6.6 3.2 0.6 83.3% FT (20-24)
G/F 20 Ty Rodgers 6-6 200 Fr. 1.8 2.9 0.9 4 points, 7 rebounds at Nebraska
G 22 Paxton Warden 6-4 180 Fr. 0.0 0.0 0.0 Illinois state champion
F 25 Zacharie Perrin 6-10 220 Fr. 0.0 0.0 0.0 Joined Illini on Dec. 21
G 55 Skyy Clark 6-3 200 Fr. 7.0 3.7 2.1 Announced leave from team Jan. 6

Head Coach Brad Underwood

Career Record: 215-98 (.687), 10th year

At Illinois: 106-71 (.599), 6th year

Big Ten: 58-46 (.558)

Series Notes vs. Minnesota

All-Time Record: Illinois leads 127-68

Streak: Illinois W-4

Last Meeting: Illinois 76, Minnesota 53 (Jan. 4, 2022 at Minneapolis)

Record at Minneapolis: Minnesota leads 48-47

Streak at Minneapolis: Illinois W-2

Underwood vs. Minnesota: 5-2

Opening Tips

• Winners of three straight, Illinois heads to Minneapolis to face Minnesota on MLK Day (5 p.m. CT, BTN).

• Illinois carries its second-longest winning streak this season, behind a 4-0 start to open the year.

• This is Illinois’ fifth game in a stretch of six games over 15 days from Jan. 4-19, with two-day preps for all six

• During its three-game winning streak, Illinois is averaging 76.7 points and shooting 36.4% from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 61.7 points and 24% from three. 

• This is a dramatic improvement from the 0-3 start to Big Ten play, when the Illini averaged 61.7 points on 28.2% behind the arc, while opponents averaged 72.7 points and made 43.1% from three.

• Illinois has won four straight over Minnesota, its longest streak against the Gophers since a school-record 20 consecutive wins from March 4, 1999 through March 15, 2008.

• Victorious in its last two trips to Williams Arena, Illinois is aiming for its longest winning streak in Minneapolis since taking eight straight from Feb. 17, 2000 through Feb. 12, 2008.

Dain Dainja hails from the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park and is a 2020 graduate of Park Center High School.

• Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the country in blocked shots, averaging 6.2 bpg. 

• Illinois and Baylor are the only teams in the country with two kenpom top-10 wins. Illinois defeated No. 3 UCLA on Nov. 18 in Las Vegas and No. 9 Texas on Dec. 6 at Madison Square Garden.

• Illinois has three AP top-15 wins (No. 2 Texas, No. 8 UCLA and No. 14 Wisconsin), tied with Arizona for second-most nationally behind Alabama’s four.

Terrence Shannon Jr. is the only power conference player – and one of just nine players nationally – averaging at least 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal on the season.

Shannon ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (18.0 ppg), and second in free throws made (85) and attempted (110).

Shannon ranks fourth in the Big Ten with six 20-point games. He scored 25 in Illinois’ last road game at Nebraska, his second-most points against a power conference foe this season.

Shannon is averaging 22.0 points (66) and 8.0 rebounds (24) over the last three games, all Illini wins. 

Dain Dainja is one of three players nationally averaging at least 10 points, five rebounds and one block in less than 20 minutes per game.

• Dainja ranks 18th nationally in 2-point field goal percentage at 71.2% (74-104).

Dainja has made at least 60% from the field in 14 of 17 games.

Dainja ranks 49th nationally in block rate (8.2) on the season. He has blocked at least three shots in four of the last five games, averaging 3.0 blocks during that stretch (15).

Dainja has made 6-of-7 free throws over the last two games after shooting 47% at the line through the first 15 games (24-51).

Matthew Mayer has scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games, averaging 15.0 points (135).

Mayer is averaging 3.0 blocks over the last five games (15), highlighted by a career-high six rejections in Friday’s win over Michigan State. 

Coleman Hawkins is one of six players in the NCAA averaging at least 10 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one block.

Hawkins has scored in double figures in four of the last five games, averaging 12.4 points (62).

• Freshman Jayden Epps has scored in double figures in five of the last six games, averaging 11.0 points (66).

Epps has eight assists with just one turnover in 57 minutes over the last two games.

• Illinois is a balanced offensive team, with seven players averaging at least 6.6 points.

• Illinois has had five players record a 20-point game this season, and eight players reach double figures scoring.

• Five different players have been Illinois’ leading scorer in a game, while seven different players have been the UI’s top rebounder.

• Illinois has outrebounded 14 of 17 opponents and is No. 45 in the NCAA with a 5.5 average rebound margin.

• Illinois reserves are combining to score 23.2 points per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. The Illini bench has outscored its opponent in 12 of 16 games, and by an average of 7.7 points.

• Illinois is making 8.8 three-pointers per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. Last season the Illini set a school single-season record, averaging 8.9 made threes.

• The Illini defense is forcing 15.2 turnovers per game, ranking third in the B1G. Illinois is scoring an average of 16.2 points off opponent turnovers.

• Illinois has six newcomers among its current 8-man playing rotation. The Illinois rotation features five underclassmen: three true freshmen and two sophomores.

• Illinois is a dramatically different team this season, welcoming three power-five transfers and five freshmen in a top-10 ranked recruiting class to account for eight scholarship newcomers. 

• Illinois’ revamped roster ranks No. 299 in experience  and No. 346 in minutes continuity according to kenpom, ahead of only three power conference teams.

• Illinois is replacing all five regular starters, its top five leading scorers, and a total of 10 players from last year’s Big Ten champions. The Illini lost 86% of its points, 80% of its rebounds, and 83% of its minutes played from a year ago.

• Illinois is the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last three-plus seasons, registering a 47-19 mark in league play. The Illini won the regular season championship in 2022, led the conference in wins while adding a B1G Tournament crown in 2021, and finished one game back of the title in 2020.

Last Time Out: Illini 75, Michigan State 66  Box Score

• The nine-point win was Illinois’ largest victory margin over Michigan State in 11 years, since a 71-62 home win on Jan. 18, 2011.

• The Illini have won now three in a row over the Spartans, Illinois’ longest streak vs. MSU since winning five straight from Feb. 18, 2003 through March 4, 2006.

• Illinois has back-to-back home wins over Michigan State for the first time since winning three straight over the Spartans in Champaign from Feb. 6, 2010 through Jan. 31, 2012.

• Illinois has now won three straight Big Ten games to get to .500 after starting league play 0-3.

• Illinois trailed by as many as nine points in the second half (41-50) before going on an 18-4 run to take a 59-54 lead.

• The Illini broke a 60-all tie with five minutes remaining by scoring on back-to-back possessions with a Coleman Hawkins three and Dain Dainja putback. Illinois led the rest of the way.

• The Illini finished the contest with 10 blocks. It is the fifth-straight game they have recorded at least six blocks in a game, and third time this season they have reached double-digits in that category.

• Michigan State went 0-7 from 3-point range, marking the first time in 15 years the Illini defense did not allow a three (Jan. 30, 2008 vs. Michigan State).

• It was the first time Michigan State did not make a 3-pointer since March 4, 2021.

• Michigan State also had just four assists, its lowest total in 11 years, since having four assists in a loss at Illinois on Jan. 31, 2012.

• The Illini turned the ball over a season-low five times.

Dain Dainja scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

• It marked the third time this season Dainja has poured in at least 20 points.

• It was Dainja’s sixth double-digit scoring effort of the year, and his sixth-straight game with at least six rebounds.

Matthew Mayer scored 19 points to go along with a career-high six blocks.

Mayer‘s six blocks are the most by an Illini since Kofi Cockburn had six vs. Indiana on March 1, 2020.

Mayer scored 14 points in the second half, going 2-for-4 from behind the arc.

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 17 points to go along with five rebounds.

Shannon scored 15 of his points in the first half, his second-straight game with at least 15 first-half points.

Complete Illinois Game Notes (PDF)


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