Shannon scores 34 points as No. 13 Illinois takes Big Ten title with 93-87 win over Wisconsin

Sun, Mar 17, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Shannon scores 34 points as No. 13 Illinois takes Big Ten title with 93-87 win over Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 34 points on 15-for-17 shooting from the free-throw line, helping 13th-ranked Illinois past Wisconsin 93-87 in Big Ten tournament championship game on Sunday.

Marcus Domask added 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds and Dain Dainja had nine points and seven rebounds for the Illini (26-8), who won their fourth conference title and their second in four years after shooting 16 of 26 from the floor in the second half.

Shannon finished with 102 points in three games this weekend, one short of the Big Ten Tournament scoring record, and was voted the Most Outstanding Player. Keegan Murray had 103 points for Iowa in 2022, but the Hawkeyes played four games that year on the way to the title.

A.J. Storr had 24 points and Chucky Hepburn added 20 points for the Badgers (22-13), who went 7 for 20 from 3-point range after going 33 for 79 over their first three games of the tournament.

Shannon, who broke the Big Ten Tournament single-game record with 40 points in the semifinal win over Nebraska, still faces a rape charge in Kansas for an alleged incident last year. His school-issued suspension was overruled by a federal judge after six games.

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The Wisconsin fans taunted him often, but he's not the type of player who can be rattled. He casually and coolly pulled up for a 3-pointer off the break to give Illinois a 41-40 lead with 31 seconds left before halftime, blowing a kiss at the crowd that was heavy with red-clad Badgers fans.

Both teams were safely in the NCAA Tournament, with their draw revealed less than an hour after the game, but momentum and confidence were still in play even if their seeds were likely already cemented.

Hepburn's three-point play gave Wisconsin a game-high 61-51 lead, but that hardly lasted. Illinois went on a 21-5 run over 6 minutes and made sure this would be a tight game the rest of the way.

Shannon was just a bit too much for Wisconsin down the stretch, just as he was for Nebraska a day earlier. Klesmit sank a 3-pointer for the tie with 1:57 left, but Shannon answered from deep on the other end to make it 88-85 with 88 seconds left.

Then he stole an careless dribble from Storr on the other end, drove the other way to draw a foul and sink both free throws for a five-point lead.

Hepburn was one of the heroes of Wisconsin's overtime victory over top-seeded Purdue in the semifinals on Saturday, hitting the tying layup at the buzzer in regulation and drawing a key charging foul to set up Max Klesmit's winner.

The junior guard passed the 1,000-point mark for his career in this game and contributed in all kinds of ways, particularly in defending Shannon but also driving hard to the hoop the way his counterpart does so well. Hepburn didn't play in the quarterfinal win over Northwestern because of a knee injury.

Illinois, the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last five seasons, has its most victories since a 26-win team in 2005-06.

Illinois won the only regular-season matchup between these teams two weeks ago, a 91-83 victory fueled by Domask's 31 points in the Waupun native's first game in Wisconsin since high school. The graduate transfer from Southern Illinois, who was a first team All-Big Ten pick with Shannon, went 8 for 11 from the floor in this game.

Both the Badgers and the Illini made their eighth appearance in the conference title game, which was staged for the 26th time, a total bested only by Ohio State's nine. Michigan State has the most Big Ten Tournament championships with seven.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

DAVE CAMPBELL Campbell is a sports reporter for The Associated Press, based in Minneapolis. He has covered all of the major teams in Minnesota as well as stories of national interest for the AP since 2000. twitter "
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