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No. 13 Illinois rallies to beat Ohio State 77-74 in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 28 points to help No. 13 Illinois overcome a 10-point second-half deficit and beat Ohio State 77-74 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday night.

The game was tied at 71 when Jamison Battle sank a 3-pointer to put Ohio State ahead with 1:44 to play. But Shannon and Coleman Hawkins each hit a pair of free throws to put Illinois up 75-74 entering the final minute.

Shannon made two more free throws with 11.3 second left to go up 77-74. Battle had a chance to tie the game on a 3-pointer when Illinois (24-8) neglected to foul and prevent a shot, but the ball bounced off the rim.

Battle led Ohio State (20-13) with 21 points. Bruce Thornton had 20 points and 10 assists.

Dain Dainja had 18 points and eight rebounds and Ty Rodgers had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Illinois.

The second-seeded Illini will play the winner of Indiana and Nebraska on Saturday in the semifinal round.

Ohio State had won seven of its previous nine games in a late-season push to make the NCAA Tournament. That included a win over then-No. 2 Purdue in the first game for interim coach Jake Diebler, who stepped into the job after Chris Holtmann was fired in mid-February. The Buckeyes won five straight before losing to the Illini.

“I think we’ve played ourselves into a conversation, and our guys have earned the right, in my opinion, to play in the postseason,” Diebler said.

The Illini survived despite not getting much from their second- and third-leading scorers on the season, especially early in the game. Marcus Domask (16.0 ppg) went 0 for 6 from the floor in the first half and finished with seven points. And Hawkins (12.9 ppg) had just seven points and seven rebounds.

Hawkins, however, stepped up in the second half, especially down the stretch. In the last five minutes, the 6-foot-10 senior had four points, an assist, two blocks, and four rebounds — three on the offensive end.

“Those were winning plays, and those are plays that you have to make this time of year,” Illini coach Brad Underwood said. “There’s no doubt those were the decisive moments in this game. For a senior to step up and do that says a lot, especially not on his best night. But Coleman wanted to keep playing here.”

Ohio State held a lead for much of the second half, stretching its cushion to 10 points with 11 minutes to go. It wasn't until the made free throws by Shannon and Hawkins with just over a minute remaining that Illinois took back the lead.

“I think we came out in the second half a little lackadaisical, but we withstood it, and we came together and found a way,” Rodgers said.

Underwood, who noted that the Illini had trailed by double digits only three times this season, said the challenge came at the perfect time for his team as they head into the heart of March Madness.

“It’s survive and advance, which is what postseason play is all about,” Underwood said. “I don’t doubt this team’s toughness and their grit, but I think we have to learn why we have those moments. We didn’t play very well offensively. We’ve got to play better.”

UP NEXT

Illinois gets the winner of Friday’s late quarterfinal. The Illini beat the Hoosiers 70-62 in January and the Cornhuskers 87-84 in February.

Ohio State will have to wait until teams are selected Sunday to see if its late-season push was enough to make it into the NCAA Tournament.

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