Men's baskeball preview: Rutgers at Illinois, 3 p.m. today

 

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Lineups

Illinois (8-15, 4-8 Big Ten)

Starters

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Trent Frazier So. 6-1 14.6 Wellington, Fla.

G Ayo Dosunmu Fr. 6-5 14.2 Chicago

G Da'Monte Williams So. 6-3 3.9 Peoria

G Aaron Jordan Sr. 6-5 8.3 Plainfield

F Giorgi Bezhanishvili Fr. 6-9 11.2 Rustavi, Georgia

FYI: Illinois is one of the more productive offenses in the Big Ten, ranking fourth at 73.9 points per game behind Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue. However, the Illini are 14th in scoring defense, allowing 74.8 ppg.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Tevian Jones Fr. 6-7 4.1 Chandler, Ariz.

G Andres Feliz Jr. 6-2 7.3 Guachupita, D.R.

F Kipper Nichols R-Jr. 6-6 6.9 Cleveland

Rutgers (11-11, 4-8 Big Ten)

Starters

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Geo Baker So. 6-4 13.0 Derry, N.H.

G Montez Mathis Fr. 6-4 8.3 Baltimore

G/F Ron Harper Jr. Fr. 6-6 6.1 Franklin Lakes, N.J.

F Eugene Omoruyi Jr. 6-7 14.6 Rexdale, Ont.

C Shaquille Doorson Gr. 7-0 3.8 Amsterdam, Neth.

FYI: Harper is the son of Ron Harper, who played 15 seasons in the NBA and won five titles combined with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers after earning All-American honors at Miami (Ohio). Harper's mom, Maria Harper, played collegiately at New Orleans.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Peter Kiss So. 6-5 7.1 New York

G Caleb McConnell Fr. 6-6 3.8 Jacksonville, Fla.

C Myles Johnson Fr. 6-10 4.1 Long Beach, Calif.

Details

Site: State Farm Center (15,544), Champaign.

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:Cory Provus (play-by-play) and former Illini Stephen Bardo (analysis) will have the call on BTN.

Series history: Illinois leads 6-1.

Last meeting: Illinois won 75-62 on Feb. 25, 2018, in Piscataway, N.J.

FYI: Two of Illinois' top three scorers in last year's win against the Scarlet Knights are no longer on the team, although they both had a season of eligibility left with the Illini. Michael Finke is averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in his graduate transfer season at Grand Canyon, while LeronBlack is putting up 15 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a starter for Argentino Junin in the top professional league in Argentina. Finke and Black combined for 33 points in the win against Rutgers, while Aaron Jordan had 15 points.

Scott Richey's storylines

Dosunmu, Frazier start connecting

Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier have started having a regular conversation before game day. Which one of the Illinois guards is going to draw the opponents' best defender. It's been a "pick your poison" type of situation of late. Dosunmu is averaging 15.6 points in the Illini's last seven games and hung 24 in Tuesday's upset of Michigan State, while Frazier is averaging 14.3 points and had 15 against the Spartans. "We knew eventually it was going to happen," Dosunmu said about the pair getting going offensively at the same time. "We have that bond off the court, and that helps on the court a lot because we're looking for each and we're trying to get each other going. We play off each other. Now people are seeing what our vision was and why I chose to come here."

Rutgers showing some fight

Rutgers is on the rise — at least compared to where it started when it joined the Big Ten for the 2014-15 season. The Scarlet Knights' four conference wins are a program record under third-year coach Steve Pikiell and more than his predecessor, Eddie Jordan, had in his two years in the Big Ten combined. "You're talking about one of the top rebounding teams in the Big Ten," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said of Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights rank third in the conference in rebounding margin. "Geo Baker and (Eugene Omoruyi) are having phenomenal years," Underwood continued. "This is a very, very balanced team. They're a tough team. They have a physicality that kind of mucks the game up. There's a reason they're winning games. They're well-coached, and this is a good basketball team."

Grudge match for De La Rosa

No need to provide Illinois center Adonis De La Rosa any extra motivation for today's game. The 7-foot Bronx, N.Y., native has some feelings about Rutgers. "That's probably not a good one for me being that I'm from New York City," De La Rosa said about his mindset heading into the game. "They're a Jersey school. My mindset is 'kill 'em.' That's my mindset just because they're so close. I'm just biased to it. ... Ron Harper Jr., he's a dude that's from the area. I know his father. I'm pretty good buddies with him, but I don't know anybody on game day. I might know them (on other days). If we beat them, I definitely know them. If we've lost to them, I definitely don't know them."

Prediction

Illinois 75, Rutgers 67

Rutgers has gotten better. There's no disputing that with the Scarlet Knights boasting wins against Miami, Ohio State, Nebraska and Indiana this season. What they don't do a lot of, though, is win away from home. Rutgers has two road wins this season and just seven total since it joined the Big Ten. And after Tuesday night's upset win against No. 9 Michigan State, home-court advantage should be trending even more in Illinois' direction with a chance for a 3-0 homestand (N-G prediction record: 15-8).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

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