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No. 3 Illinois (20-6)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Trent Frazier Sr. 6-2 10.6 Wellington, Fla.

G Adam Miller Fr. 6-3 8.2 Peoria

G Ayo Dosunmu Jr. 6-5 20.9 Chicago

F Jacob Grandison R-Jr. 6-6 4.5 Oakland, Calif.

C Kofi Cockburn So. 7-0 17.3 Kingston, Jamaica

FYI: Miller is tied for fifth nationally with Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham for made three-pointers among freshmen in high-major conferences with 45. The top four are LSU’s Cameron Thomas (53), Arkansas’ Moses Moody (51), North Carolina’s Kerwin Walton (51) and Kansas State’s Nijel Pack (49).

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Andre Curbelo Fr. 6-1 8.8 Vega Baja, Puerto Rico

G Da’Monte Williams Sr. 6-3 5.4 Peoria

F Giorgi Bezhanishvili Jr. 6-9 5.3 Rustavi, Georgia

Rutgers (15-10)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Geo Baker Sr. 6-4 10.1 Derry, N.H.

G Jacob Young Sr. 6-2 14.4 Houston

G Paul Mulcahy So. 6-6 5.9 Bayonne, N.J.

G/F Ron Harper Jr. Jr. 6-6 15.2 Franklin Lakes, N.J.

C Myles Johnson Jr. 6-11 8.4 Long Beach, Calif.

FYI: Harper shot 50 percent from three-point range in the first seven games of the season. He missed the next game with an ankle injury and then went off the rails from beyond the arc. Harper shot just 16 of 77 (20.8 percent) in the final 16 games of the regular season.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Caleb McConnell Jr. 6-7 5.6 Jacksonville, Fla.

G Montez Mathis Jr. 6-4 8.5 Baltimore

C Clifford Omoruyi Fr. 6-11 3.9 Benin City, Nigeria


Site: Lucas Oil Stadium (8,000); Indianapolis.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN-1490-AM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

TV: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), former Illini Stephen Bardo (analysis) and Andy Katz (sideline reports) will have the call on BTN.

Series: Illinois leads 8-3.

Last meeting: Rutgers won 91-88 on Dec. 20, 2020, in Piscataway, N.J.

FYI: Illinois and Rutgers have never met in the Big Ten tournament. The only neutral-site matchup in the series was the first game of the series — a 77-57 Illini win in the South Padre Island Invitational on Nov. 26, 2005. James Augustine led four Illinois players in double figures with 18 points, with Brian Randle chipping in 16. The Scarlet Knights’ Quincy Douby finished with a game-high 21 points in the loss.

Beat writer

Scott Richey’s storylines

Friday night will feature actual fan support

Illinois played in mostly empty arenas this season. While a smattering of fans have been in the building for various road games, State Farm Center was essential-personnel only for the Illini’s 13 home games. That changes this week in Indianapolis. The Big Ten is allowing a maximum of 8,000 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium for the conference tournament. “That’s going to feel like 20,000,” Illinois senior guard Trent Frazier said. “It’s going to be a fun game. Illini nation being there with a two-hour drive, it’s going to be fun. The games are going to be intense. That’s what it’s all about. It’s March. This is the best basketball of the year. It’s the best time. This is what we want to be a part of, and this is what we worked for all year. Those guys are ready for it. They’re excited. We’ve been bouncing off walls. We’re just really ready to get going.”

Dosunmu delivers high praise for Illini’s glue guy

Ayo Dosunmu took great care in detailing just how important Da’Monte Williams was to Illinois’ regular-season finale win at Ohio State. Dosunmu told Williams in the huddle after the last media timeout that the senior guard was going to play a key role down the stretch. He was right. Williams put the defensive clamps on the Buckeyes’ E.J. Liddell and drained a momentum-shifting three-pointer. “He’s just the ultimate glue guy,” Dosunmu said. “He does everything for us. He’s a guard, really, playing the 4 position. When he’s in those situations, he has the ability to drive and get in gaps and make beautiful passes. He has like that Draymond Green instinct. He can shoot it. He can rebound. He can defend at all positions. Pretty much, he does it all for us. I could go on down the list about him. He does everything for our team to be successful.”

Three-pointers aren’t everything with these Illini

Playing basketball in a football stadium is a different experience. For the fans, certainly. Especially those near the top of the venue. But also for the players, whose own sight lines are different. It’s not uncommon to see shooting percentages — particularly from three-point range — take a hit. Illinois ranks 19th nationally in three-point field goal percentage at 38.22 percent, but is tied for 194th in total three-pointers attempted and tied for 204th in three-pointers made per game. “We’re a good shooting team, but we haven’t lived and died by the three,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “The closer we are to the basket, the better chance it has to go in, and we’ll start from there. Our philosophy has always been to get the ball inside first and play from in there anyway. We’ll adjust. We’ve got an hour before our game.”


No. 3 Illinois 81, Rutgers 72

The Illini would argue the team that lost at Rutgers before Christmas is not the same one taking the court in Indianapolis. To be fair, they’re right. Fast forward two-plus months, and Illinois enters postseason play having firmed up individual roles to yield 11 wins in its last 12 games. The Scarlet Knights went the opposite direction with an offense that can get them in trouble. (N-G prediction record — 19-7).

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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