Illinois wins 4th straight, 78-60 over Minnesota | Sports
MINNEAPOLIS — Matthew Mayer had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Illinois used a big second half to beat Minnesota 78-60 on Monday night for its fourth straight victory.
Illinois pulled away in the opening five minutes of the second half with a 12-0 run to build a 47-36 lead. The Illini extended it to 55-41 after nine minutes as Minnesota made just 3 of 13 shots to start the half.
Illinois dominated the paint with a 54-28 edge in points and 50-29 in rebounds. The Illini held Minnesota to 36% shooting, including 3 of 13 from 3-point range. The Gophers were also 15 of 25 at the free-throw line.
Illinois has won five consecutive games in the series — and three straight at Minnesota.
Dain Dainja and Terrence Shannon Jr. each added 11 points for Illinois (13-5, 4-3 Big Ten), which hosts Indiana on Thursday. Freshman Jayden Epps scored 10 points and Mayer, a super senior, recorded his first career double-double.
Mayer made an open 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds of the first half to give Illinois a 35-32 lead. Minnesota is now 0-8 this season when trailing at halftime.
Dawson Garcia had 17 points and Ta’lon Cooper scored 16 points for Minnesota (7-9, 1-5), which is back in action on Thursday against No. 3 Purdue.
The Illini was coming off breaking Michigan State’s seven-game winning streak on Friday with a 75-66 win at the State Farm Center.
Dainja, a player Illinois coach Brad Underwood calls “a dancing bear,” powered inside and scored with both hands to put up 20 points and lead the Illini. Mayer hit 3 of 6 from distance and scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
Illinois went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 54-54, then took the lead on two free throws by Dainja, going in front for the first time since taking a 27-26 first-half lead. Mayer added a pull-up 3 to complete a run of 10 straight points.
Michigan State (12-4, 4-2, Big Ten) rallied to tie the game on a Tyson Walker jumper with 5:47 left, but Coleman Hawkins answered with a 3 to put Illinois (12-5, 3-3) back on top for good.
Shannon Jr. scored 17 points for the Illini. Hawkins scored all nine of his points in the second half and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Mayer blocked six shots.
A.J. Hoggard scored 20 points to lead Michigan State. Walker had 14 and Joey Hauser contributed 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.