Illinois Basketball

Terrence Shannon, Illinois capture Big Ten tournament title


MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – MARCH 17: A general view of Target Center prior to the start of the Championship game of the Big Ten Tournament between the Wisconsin Badgers and Illinois Fighting Illini on March 17, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Illinois trailed by double-digits for the third day in a row, but for the third day in a row they also won the game, as Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask led the squad to a 93-87 victory over Wisconsin.

The Big Ten tournament title is the fourth Illinois has earned in team history, and represents a series of comeback victories that culminated with yet another second half surge.

Shannon led the way with 34 points, just one day after dropping 40 on Nebraska. He was also 15-of-17 from the free throw line, helping Illinois to a remarkable 26-for-30 performance from the charity stripe.

Domask added 26 points while also registering eight assists and seven rebounds for the Illini, who swept both games they played against Wisconsin this season.

The Badgers got 24 points from AJ Storr and 20 from Chucky Hepburn, but it wasn’t enough as they came up just shy of a conference title despite holding a double-digit lead over the Illini in the second half.

It was Hepburn in fact that helped make that lead happen, as he made a jumper and converted a three-point play to give Wisconsin a 61-51 lead with 14:38 remaining in the game. The teams exchanged baskets over the following minutes, and it was a dunk by Dain Dainja that tied the game at 65-65 and a layup from Shannon that gave the Illini a 67-65 lead with 10 minutes to go.

Illinois kept trying to pull away, but Wisconsin reeled them in multiple times, with Storr knocking down a pair of free throws with 5:42 to go to tie things up at 77-77. The game would be tied several more times in the late stages, but the key sequence occurred with 2:30 to go as Shannon buried a jumper to give Illinois a three-point lead. Klesmit responded with a three-pointer to tie things up, but Shannon buried another three to give the Illini an 88-85 lead with 1:29 remaining.

The Badgers couldn’t quite overcome that decisive blow, and Illinois used their free throw dominance to capture the win.

Both teams figure to make it into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which will begin on Thursday. Illinois is expected to receive a high seed after finishing with the second-best record in the Big Ten, while Wisconsin will likely get a No. 5 or No. 6 seed after struggling in the late stages of the regular season.  

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