Friday, February 23, 2024

College basketball rankings: Illinois cracks top 10 after prolific shooting performance in FAU win

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It’s rare for two teammates to score at least 30 points in the same game while shooting above 70% from the field.

How rare?

Before Terrence Shannon and Marcus Domask did it in Illinois‘ 98-89 victory over Florida Atlantic inside New York’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, it had not been done by a pair of Division I teammates since Thomas Kenney and Drew Samuels did it for Marist in January 1999.

“Obviously, those two were pretty special tonight,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “Heck of a college basketball game. That was terrific. It’s not often you shoot 63% [from the field in a game] and you need all of that to win.”

Yes, Illinois shot 63.2% from the field against FAU — largely because of Shannon and Domask. Shannon, a 6-foot-6 wing, took 14 shots, made 10 of them and finished with a career-high 33 points and two assists. Domask, a 6-foot-6 forward, took 21 shots, made 15 of them and finished with a career-high 33 points and six rebounds. So those two players combined to shoot 71.4% from the field to help Illinois extend its winning streak to five games and move up to No. 10 in Wednesday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings.

Yes, that’s a big jump.

But it’s a big jump that feels appropriate now that Illinois is 7-1 with a neutral-court win over an FAU team that’s still 10th at BartTorvik.com, 14th in the Top 25 And 1, 15th at EvanMiya.com and 16th at KenPom.com. Illinois’ lone loss is by single digits to a Marquette team that’s No. 7 in the Top 25 And 1. So the Illini’s résumé is impressive one month into this season, and it’s now reasonable to label Illinois as arguably the biggest threat to Purdue‘s quest to win back-to-back Big Ten titles.

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