Gameday Central: Illinois 17, Northwestern 7 | Sports activities

Follow beatwriter Scott Richey of the State Farm Center as Illinois and Northwestern meet for a Big Ten rematch:

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Coleman Hawkins had a front row seat when Ayo Dosunmus later took over the game against Nebraska. Let’s just say the Illinois striker was suitably impressed.

“He’s a professional,” said Hawkins. “He just took over the game completely. It was crazy. I sat there and looked at it and said, ‘Jeesh’. Literally just a ball screen and an attack on the rim and that got us into Brought game. It was crazy to see him do that. That’s what pros do, and that’s what he did. “


Coleman Hawkins made his third three-pointer of the season in the Illinois win in Nebraska. The newcomer doesn’t shoot many – only nine so far – but to be more consistent was his goal.

“I shoot 500 shots a day to do this when I get into the game,” said Hawkins. “I’ve definitely worked to become a more consistent shot and reliable. I have to knock it down in the corner.”

Tonight we honor #Ilini legend Mannie Jackson working with Advancement of Blacks in Sports in her campaign to celebrate historical figures who have been a voice for racial justice and change in athletics. Congratulations Mannie and thank you so much for all you’ve done!

– Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) February 17, 2021


Illinois coach Brad Underwood spoke about his team’s victory in Nebraska during his Zoom call Monday. It was a learning experience in Lincoln, Neb.

“There’s a lot to learn after the game in Nebraska,” said Underwood. “Really proud of our boys. I’ve used this as a great teaching tool. There are always a game or two in the postseason if you just have to dig it up. It might not be nice. It might not be the exact energy.” or how you want to play – Nebraska had a lot to do with it – but we found a way. Ayo (Dosunmu) was special on the track. I thought our defense was very, very good in the second half. “

That led Underwood to a quick preview of today’s game against Northwestern.

“Now it goes on,” continued the Illinois coach. “We’re just trying to keep chopping wood and improving today and facing a north-west team that obviously got us excited in the first half. We can’t do too much with the second half. That was a unique experience. You did it. ” Some changes bring (Chase) Audige to the point and actually play much bigger. You play a lot more through Ryan Young with his insertion on the line-up and (Pete) Nance on the 4. We’re going to see multiple defenses, I would imagine like we did with man and zone in the first half. “


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Brad Underwood doesn’t expect his team to put together a second half like they did at Evanston last month. Illinois has set Northwestern on fire in the past 20 minutes.

There was nothing the Wildcats could do to slow the Illinois offensive, which dropped them 53 points. Northwestern made even less offensive with 13 points.

Underwood is probably just as hopeful that there won’t be a repeat of the first half in today’s rematch. The Illinois coach watched his team drop 15 points in the first 20 minutes. Granted, Northwestern wasn’t all that far from getting into the Associated Press Top 25 when that game took place in early January. A rerun tonight at the State Farm Center is less accepted as the Wildcats lost 11 direct conference games.

In-state battle tonight at 8 p.m.! #Illini | #EveryDayGuys. .

– Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) February 16, 2021

Illinois should – with emphasis on should – be prepared to deal with Northwestern’s best shot. The Illinois got it this last Friday in Nebraska. I also didn’t handle it very well and would have suffered a disgruntled loss in Lincoln, Neb., If Ayo Dosunmu hadn’t gone into full takeover mode.

It wasn’t a nice win against the Cornhuskers, but it was a win. A win (combined with a Villanova defeat) that put Illinois back in the country’s top five teams in this week’s AP poll.

It’s not a “must see” game for Illinois tonight. Nothing terrible will happen if Northwestern causes a stir. The Illinois are safe when it comes to the NCAA tournament. It all comes down to getting there.

Of course, a Big Ten title could be lost. Maybe it’s a “must have” game after all.

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