Rutgers Struggles Against Ranked Illinois in Blowout Loss
Rutgers men’s basketball dropped both its first home game of the year and its Big Ten opener on the same night in a 76-58 loss to No. 24 Illinois at Jersey Mike’s Arena, Saturday.
“Disappointing on how we played,” Head Coach Steve Pikiell said. “Illinois is very good. Tip of the cap to them. They played very well. We obviously have to play better against a team of that caliber.”
The Scarlet Knights were dominated on the glass by Illinois, as the Fighting Illini outrebounded Rutgers 55-27. Rutgers also struggled on the perimeter, shooting only 33 percent against 45 percent for Illinois.
Illinois set the tone early, jumping out to a 14-2 lead in the opening six minutes of the contest.
Rutgers did work its way back into the game, getting as close as three-points of a tie in the first half when Antwone Woolfolk converted on a free throw and jump shot to cut the deficit to 37-34.
Still Illinois’ Terrance Shannon Jr. converted on a three-point play thanks to a foul on Noah Fernandes. Later Shannon Jr. hit a huge three-ball to close out the first half with the Illini up 41-36 at the break. Shannon Jr. had a huge night, leading the Illini with 23 points and 10 boards.
The second half was all Illinois, as the Illini outscored Rutgers 35-22 to pull away in the contest.
“It’s on coaches, it’s on me to figure this out. I got to look at my approach. Transition D was huge and rebounding the ball was emphasized enough,” Pikeill added.
Aundre Hyatt was the leading scorer for Rutgers with nine points.
Rutgers will travel to Wake Forest on Tuesday.