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Illinois Basketball Looks For Win in Shannon Jr.’s Return

A day after beating Michigan on the road, the Illinois basketball team got news that Terrence Shannon Jr. would return to the team



Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood looks on during the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A day after beating Michigan on the road, the Illinois basketball team got news that Terrence Shannon Jr. would return to the team. Now, with their leading scorer back for the first time in six games the Illini welcome Rutgers to Champaign. Illinois routed the Scarlet Knights at the RAC in early December.

1. Ride the Wave

Even with Shannon Jr. not starting, it’s likely emotions will be high in the State Farm Center. Illinois needs to be sure to not allow that to take them out of what they want to do. When Shannon Jr. returned off the bench last year after a concussion, the Illini went down 18 at halftime. While Rutgers isn’t last year’s Northwestern team, Illinois needs to take care of business in this game. In the previous matchup, the Illini went +28 on the glass with 19 offensive rebounds. Channeling the emotions into that avenue should get them off to a good start.

2. The Return

When Shannon Jr. does come in, Illinois can fall into a comfort zone. He should still be in close to game shape and thus be able to provide his typical two-way impact. It will be interesting to see how much they lean on him versus Marcus Domask in terms of primary creation. Considering the circumstances, the Illini can ease him back onto the court without needing him to score 26 like he did against Northwestern last year. Another factor will be if he is on a minute limit as part of his return to action. When Coleman Hawkins returned from his knee injury, he played 26 minutes twice before resuming his usual 30.

3. Round Two

Rutgers represents the Illini’s first rematch of the season in conference play. There are still first-time throughs against a number of opponents remaining, but now Illinois basketball will continue to face teams with 40 minutes in the ring with them. The Illini’s schemes on either end are relatively simple. This means that opponents should have a better idea of how to attack. With Shannon Jr. back, it would be nice to see their defense get back to where it was with him in the lineup. Rutgers is the last team the Illini held under 60 points and should look to repeat that.

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Brian is a former sports writer for the Daily Illini who has been covering Illinois Basketball for over 5 years. Brian is now the lead basketball reporter for Armchair Illini, the go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He has had work published on Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, USA Today and more.