Tue. May 30th, 2023

NEW YORK — If Illinois goes to price among the many higher groups in faculty basketball for a 3rd straight season, wins just like the one the Seventeenth-ranked Illini pulled off Tuesday evening over No. 2 Texas at Madison Sq. Backyard will function proof and credence to the trigger. 

Illinois staged an unlikely run late inside a boisterous Backyard to rally and in the end topple the Longhorns 85-78 in extra time within the Jimmy V Basic. It was Texas’ first lack of this still-young season after it fumbled away probabilities on a number of possessions within the ultimate two minutes. 

Illinois coach Brad Underwood informed CBS Sports activities it was his crew’s most full effort to date. Underwood has scheduled aggressively; Tuesday was Illinois’ fifth sport out 9 total towards a high-major program. An Illini squad picked by some to win the Massive Ten can now declare victories towards UCLA (7-2) and Syracuse (5-4), however this one carries probably the most worth, at the least for now. 

“I like this [win] as a result of they have nice guards,” Underwood informed CBS Sports activities. “That is a extremely, actually outdated crew. Chris (Beard) has lived within the portal and executed it in addition to anyone within the nation. And we did it towards them.”

The losses are cheap and got here away from dwelling: vs. Virginia in Las Vegas, and at Maryland. Getting into Tuesday, these groups have been a mixed 15-0.

Longhorns vs. Illini was the primary faculty hoops contest at MSG this season. It delivered free basketball and one of many higher watches by the primary month of the basketball calendar. Listed here are my takeaways and need-to-knows from the Massive Apple. 

Underwood remains to be ‘guessing’ together with his rotations

Would you consider {that a} crew that now charges eleventh within the nation at KenPom.com nonetheless is not fairly positive of how it should play its approach by video games towards top-end competitors? That is what Underwood admitted Tuesday evening. It is an OK factor for now, however clearly not a long-term technique. Underwood had an amazing line within the postgame press convention. 

“Surprises each evening,” he mentioned. “I do not know who’s going to do it, I do not know the place it is coming from, I do not know what it’ll seem like.”

What Tuesday evening appeared like was an Illinois crew studying to get higher in actual time, a bunch that would finally be proper there with the likes of Purdue, Maryland and some other contenders ready to emerge within the Massive Ten. The early signal was this: Terrence Shannon Jr., Illinois’ finest participant, did not rating within the first half — but Illinois went into the break with a 37-34 lead.

Take that each time. 

“We guess primarily based on apply,” Underwood mentioned. “It labored within the UCLA sport.”  

Shannon nonetheless struggled into the second half, a lot in order that he received benched halfway by the second half. Regardless of this, Illinois overcame a 16-2 second half run by Texas, and even after closing that hole, discovered itself down 68-63 after Texas senior Marcus Carr sank a fallaway within the paint over Matthew Mayer with a minute to go. Within the second, it appeared like the sport was over. In actuality, these two factors have been Texas’ final in regulation. 

Illinois freshman Jayden Epps saved the sport. He hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining, then, after Texas sophomore Tyrese Hunter missed the entrance finish of a one-and-one, Epps induced a foul on Texas’ Sir’Jabari Rice. Epps sank each foul pictures with 7.6 to go and received the sport to extra time.

“I am full with the capability with this crew has,” Underwood mentioned. “We’re trusting our gamers to make the appropriate performs. It is totally different and it isn’t as comfy as possibly I might prefer it generally.”

Within the bonus session, Shannon Jr., lastly appeared after a principally nameless first 40 minutes. Shannon scored eight of Illinois’ first 9 factors in OT and helped his crew acquire an edge it would not give up. Shannon completed with 12 of his 16 factors in extra time and Mayer led the Illini with 21 factors.

Illinois dropped 85 factors on the third-best per-possession protection within the nation. Getting into Tuesday, Texas was permitting 23.2% 3-point taking pictures. Illinois shot 43.5% (10-of-23) and closed out at 1.06 factors per possession — one of the best displaying towards UT this season. 

After trailing by double digits with eight minutes remaining, Illinois confirmed its resolve by not having a turnover down the stretch or in extra time. Underwood is dogged about recruiting gamers with profitable backgrounds. State titles at the highschool degree, and within the portal, gamers who’ve been concerned in deep runs within the NCAA Event. He mentioned it helps with locker room chemistry and eases the transition to enjoying in Division I at this degree. It actually appeared to matter on Tuesday evening towards a Texas crew that’s nonetheless in all probability somewhat higher than Illinois. 

For Underwood to have the arrogance to bench Shannon for an enormous portion of the second half speaks to how multi-faceted Illinois is. And bear in mind, it is a coach who’s had the likes of Ayo Dosunmu, Trent Frazier and Kofi Cockburn to lean on in current seasons. It is a formidable roster makeover. 

Underwood informed me he desperately desires to have a crew that may be nine-deep. Eight-deep, at worst. With how briskly he desires to play offensively, it could be needed. 

“All of them have sure strengths about them,” he mentioned. “So I will try to play that approach.”

Underwood mentioned the crew performed dumb in its loss at Maryland, spotlight a degree whereby the Terrapins had 4 made baskets over a 16-minute span. He needed to play very important massive Coleman Hawkins 38 minutes, which he does not wish to do once more this season. 

The important thing for Illinois was being able to take a seat Shannon and have it not in the end doom them. 

“We have been actually enjoying nicely and I am not gonna mess with success,” Underwood informed me. “However then it received right down to the final couple of minutes and I do know what he can do in these and I got here again to him.”

When it was time, Shannon was prepared. This crew has loads of room for development as a tempting squad transferring ahead. 

Matthew Mayer supplied Illinois with an early spark vs. Texas.

Texas blew the sport, however that is not alarming

I will not overcomplicate this. Texas ought to’ve received the sport however failed to shut the door. A made shot right here or a sunken free throw there, and it isn’t going to OT. Examine UT’s schedule. The following 5 video games aren’t towards projected NCAA Event groups. UT would’ve been poised to make it to New Yr’s Eve undefeated and 12-0 heading into its sport at Oklahoma.

However it’s just one loss. Texas will in all probability be 11-1 after Christmas passes. 

“November was nice to us. That is December. We did not come to Texas to win the second sport in December,” Longhorns coach Chris Beard informed me outdoors the Texas locker room. “We got here to be a crew that wins six video games within the event. This crew has executed an amazing job profitable by victories, whether or not it’s by sport or design or create and we have gotten higher after every sport by victories and that is actually arduous to do. So now’s our first probability this season and doubtless not our final probability to get higher after defeat.” 

Beard mentioned Illinois’ key was Mayer within the first half and Shannon in extra time. Cannot argue with that. Beard added about Illinois’ end-of-game push: “We completely knew it was coming.” 

Surprisingly sufficient, Texas did not get sufficient from anybody apart from senior Timmy Allen, who was the fixed: 21 factors, eight rebounds, seven assists. That is a man you may hear much more from because the season goes on. I feel he is Texas’ finest participant and can show that over the following 25-plus video games. However he’ll want the guards to play up towards top-30 competitors. On Tuesday, Hunter missed a foul shot late, and Marcus Carr had a number of pictures he’d like again. 

“When it will get to profitable time, one of the best gamers in faculty basketball take the sport over,” Beard mentioned. “We wanted that second man, we would have liked that third man. It wasn’t Marcus’ finest statistical sport, however everyone knows Marcus could be that man.”

He’ll have his nights as nicely. This was a tricky loss that ought to’ve been a win. No extra, no much less. My expectation is that Texas shall be one of many groups to observe in January, when a rugged Massive 12 schedule will put them within the highlight on a weekly foundation. 

Bittersweet reunion for Beard, Shannon household

Just a few years in the past, Shannon was the participant serving to Beard construct up Texas Tech’s model, a big-time recruit who continued TTU’s momentum underneath Beard after the Crimson Raiders made the 2019 nationwide title sport. Quick-forward to 2021: Beard will get the Texas job, Shannon stays with the Crimson Raiders and works his approach by accidents and obstacles to keep up his repute as a reliable faculty participant. 

He did not comply with Beard to Texas, after which when he went within the portal, he opted to in the end head to Illinois. Then the Jimmy V supplied up this scheduling wrinkle. Beard going up towards his outdated participant. And into extra time, he knew precisely what to anticipate. Shannon taking swings at Texas — Beard had seen this earlier than. It was all too acquainted. 

After the sport ended, Beard shared a second with Shannon, after which made his strategy to the household part behind Illinois’ bench. Within the first row have been Shannon’s dad and mom. He exchanged hugs and greetings with them. It was a candy scene, one not picked up by TV cameras. However it was clear it meant so much to Beard, and to the Shannon’s household. 

“I really like him,” Beard informed me. “We keep in contact together with his household, pull for him each sport. I do not like to teach towards former gamers. I believed he was an NBA participant after two years in our program, however his physique was banged up on him somewhat bit that offseason. If he stays wholesome a second yr enjoying for us, he is within the NBA proper now.” 

The switch portal goes to result in conditions like this occurring with extra frequency transferring ahead. Ideally, coaches can deal with it with as a lot appreciation as Beard did on Tuesday. 

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