HEAD COACH BRAD UNDERWOOD
Career Record: 222-102 (.685), 10th year
At Illinois: 113-75 (.601), 6th year
Big Ten: 65-50 (.565)
SERIES NOTES VS. OHIO STATE
All-Time Record: Illinois leads 109-81
Streak: Illinois W-1
Last Meeting: Illinois 69, Ohio State 60 (Jan. 24, 2023 at Champaign)
Record at Columbus: Ohio State leads 49-43
Streak at Columbus: Illinois W-1
Last Meeting at Columbus: #4 Illinois 73, #7 Ohio State 68 (March 6, 2021)
Underwood vs. Ohio State: 4-5
• Winners of two straight, Illinois plays its third game this week on Sunday at Ohio State (11 a.m. CT, CBS).
• Illinois is coming off a thrilling 18-point comeback win over No. 21 Northwestern on Thursday night, the Illini’s largest come-from-behind victory since Dec. 2, 2009 at No. 18 Clemson (school-record 23-point comeback).
• Illinois has won 10 of its last 14 games after starting Big Ten play 0-3.
• Illinois is seeking its 20th victory, which would mark four straight 20-win seasons under Coach Brad Underwood, and the 36th 20-win season in school history.
• Illinois is the Big Ten’s winningest team in league play over the last four years, with 54 total wins and 23 road wins.
• Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the NCAA in blocked shots, averaging 5.8 bpg.
• This year’s Illini squad has equaled the school single-season blocks record, first set in 1978-79, with 162.
• Coleman Hawkins tallied the record-tying block while preserving Thursday’s win, swatting Northwestern guard Boo Buie’s driving layup attempt with five seconds left and the Illini leading by two.
• After missing the previous two games, Terrence Shannon Jr. returned in grand fashion with 26 points against Northwestern, including 24 in the second half, to lead the Illini comeback.
• Matthew Mayer has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games – with four 20-point outings – and is averaging 17.8 points (142), 6.9 rebounds (55) and 2.9 three-pointers (23) during this stretch.
• Illinois is having another successful season despite replacing all five regular starters, its top five leading scorers, and a total of 10 players from last year’s Big Ten champions. The Illini lost 86% of its points, 80% of its rebounds, and 83% of its minutes played from a year ago.
• Illinois has allowed an average of just 60.3 points (603) in its Big Ten wins, holding all 10 opponents below the 70-point mark. The Illini have given up an average of 77.6 points (543) in its Big Ten losses, however, with all seven opponents topping 70 points.
• Illinois’ performance in conference play during the Underwood era has reached a historic level of success. The Illini’s 54 Big Ten wins since 2020 is the most in school history over a four-year stretch:
1. 54 wins – 2020 (13), 2021 (16), 2022 (15), 2023 (10)
T2. 51 wins – 1984 (15), 1985 (12), 1986 (11), 1987 (13)
T2. 51 wins – 2019 (7), 2020 (13), 2021 (16), 2022 (15)
T4. 50 wins – 1986 (11), 1987 (13), 1988 (12), 1989 (14)
T4. 50 wins – 1987 (13), 1988 (12), 1989 (14), 1990 (11)
T4. 50 wins – 2002 (11), 2003 (11), 2004 (13), 2005 (15)
T4. 50 wins – 2003 (11), 2004 (13), 2005 (15), 2006 (11)
• Illinois is the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last four seasons, registering a 54-23 mark in league play. The Illini won the regular season championship in 2022, led the conference in wins while adding a B1G Tournament crown in 2021, and finished one game back of the title in 2020:
1. Illinois 54
2. Purdue 49
3. Wisconsin 47
4. Iowa 46
5. Michigan 45
• Illinois also owns the most road wins during league play over the last four years with 23, three ahead of the next closest team:
1. Illinois 23
2. Wisconsin 20
T3. Michigan 18
T3. Purdue 18
• Illinois is the lone Big Ten team and one of just eight teams with multiple kenpom top-10 wins this season. The Illini are the only team in the country with two kenpom top-10 wins away from home, beating No. 2 UCLA in Las Vegas on Nov. 18 and No. 9 Texas in New York City on Dec. 6.
• Illinois has three AP top-15 wins this season (No. 2 Texas, No. 8 UCLA and No. 14 Wisconsin), which leads the Big Ten along with Northwestern, and is tied for ninth-most nationally.
• Illinois is 5-3 against ranked opponents this season and has won 16 of its last 25 games vs. Top 25 teams.
• Illinois is shooting 54.2% on 2-pointers in B1G play, leading the conference.
• The Illini also have the best 2-point defense in B1G play, allowing just 45.2% shooting inside the arc.
• Illinois has outrebounded 23 of 28 opponents, including 14 of 17 teams during Big Ten play.
• The Illini rank second in the Big Ten and No. 27 in the NCAA with a 5.6 average rebound margin.
• Illinois is 16-0 when holding opponents to less than one-point-per-possession, and 3-9 when allowing more than one-point-per-possession.
• Illinois is 13-2 when shooting at least 45% from the field, 19-2 when shooting better than its opponent, and 14-3 when scoring at least 70 points.
• Terrence Shannon Jr. ranks seventh in the Big Ten in scoring (17.3 ppg), second in free throws made (133) and second in attempts (169).
• Shannon ranks second in the Big Ten behind Purdue’s Zach Edey in fouls drawn per 40 minutes at 6.3.
• Shannon ranks seventh in the Big Ten with nine 20-point games this season. He is coming off a 26-point performance in Thursday’s win over Northwestern, his most points since also netting 26 vs. Indiana on Jan. 19.
• Shannon drained 4-of-5 threes vs. Northwestern after going 7-27 behind the arc in his previous five games.
• Matthew Mayer has scored in double figures in 17 of the last 20 games, averaging 15.4 points (308), with all six of his 20-point games this season coming during this stretch.
• Mayer has been the Illini’s leading scorer 10 times over the last 20 games, including five of the last eight.
• Dain Dainja has scored at least 11 points in four of the last six games, averaging 11.2 points (67).
• Dainja has made at least 60% from the field in 19 games.
• Freshman Jayden Epps has scored in double figures in 13 of the last 17 games, averaging 10.7 points (182).
• Epps has scored at least 12 in seven of the last nine games, averaging 11.4 points (103).
• Coleman Hawkins has scored 12+ in three of the last five games, averaging 11.6 points (58) on 51% shooting (25-49).
• Over the last nine games, Hawkins is averaging 7.3 rebounds (66) and 1.4 blocks (13).
• Illinois has three players ranked in the top eight of the B1G in blocks, Mayer (5th, 1.3 bpg), Dainja (6th, 1.3 bpg) and Hawkins (8th, 1.2 bpg).
• Illinois’ top three leading scorers this season are transfers.
• A transfer had been Illinois’ leading scorer 17-straight games until Feb. 11, and 24 of 28 games this season.
• Illinois has had five players record a 20-point game, and eight players reach double figures scoring.
• Five different players have been Illinois’ leading scorer in a game, while eight different players have been the UI’s top rebounder.
• Illinois has six newcomers among its current 9-man playing rotation. The Illinois rotation features six underclassmen: three true freshmen and three sophomores.
• Illinois is a dramatically different team this season, welcoming three power-five transfers and five freshmen in a top-10 ranked recruiting class to account for eight scholarship newcomers.
• Illinois’ revamped roster ranks No. 297 in experience and No. 343 in minutes continuity according to kenpom, ahead of only three power conference teams.
LAST TIME OUT: ILLINOIS 66, #21 NORTHWESTERN 62 BOX SCORE
• Illinois erased an 18-point halftime deficit to storm back and defeat the Wildcats. It was Illinois’ largest come-from-behind win since the school record 23-point comeback at Clemson on Dec. 2, 2009.
• Illinois improved to 5-3 against ranked opponents this season, and has won 16 of its last 25 vs. Top 25 teams.
• Illinois improved to 14-2 at home this season and has won five straight games at State Farm Center.
• Illinois’ first lead of the game came with 2:36 remaining on a Matthew Mayer free throw to take a 60-59 lead.
• Northwestern led for 35:55 of the first 37:24 of the game. The Illini led for 1:40 of total game time.
• After going 0-11 from 3-point range in the first half, Illinois went 7-13 from three in the second half.
• Illinois’ four-point win was its first Big Ten win of fewer than nine points this season. Previously, all nine of Illinois’ Big Ten wins had been by at least nine points.
• Terrence Shannon Jr. led Illinois with 26 points, including 24 in the second half on 7-8 FG (4-4 from three).
• It was Shannon‘s ninth 20-point game this season, and most points since also scoring 26 vs. Indiana on Jan. 19.
• Coleman Hawkins‘ block of Boo Buie to seal the game with two seconds left was Illinois’ 162nd blocked shot of the season, tying the school record for blocks first set in 1978-79.
• Matthew Mayer had 14 points and game-high eight rebounds, and has now scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games.
• Freshman Ty Rodgers tied his career high with eight rebounds.
• Fellow freshman Sencire Harris gave Illinois a defensive spark, holding Boo Buie without a field goal over the final 12 minutes. Harris was +10 while on the floor and also scored six points, his most in the last six games.
COURTESY ILLINOIS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS