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Rutgers steamrolled by Illinois in Big Ten opener, 86-51

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The Scarlet Knights had no answer for the Illini on Friday night.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

A bit of painful deja vu for the Scarlet Knights on Friday night.

Almost nine months ago, it was a 22-point victory for Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. This time around, it was a similar fate for Rutgers — except it was not Ayo Dosunmu doing the work.

Alfonso Plummer and Jacob Grandison led the charge for Illinois during an 86-51 thumping of the Scarlet Knights in Champaign. Preseason All-American Kofi Cockburn finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds on the night.

The thought of competing in this game did not last long as fans could not get comfortable on the couch before the Illini took off. A Paul Mulcahy jump shot cut the lead to 8-7 just 4:30 into the contest. This would be the final points for Rutgers over the next five minutes. Illinois would go on a 19-4 run to gain control of the contest and not give it back.

Illinois took a 43-23 lead into halftime. Plummer and Grandison combined for 25 points of their own to outscore the Scarlet Knights over the first 20 minutes. The second half was more of the same as the offensive woes continued for the Scarlet Knights.

This has been a concern early on in the season. On the bright side, Rutgers shot 7-17 from three-point range but finished just 30.9% from the floor. The Scarlet Knights were out rebounded by 14 and committed 14 turnovers. Rutgers had just one player finish in double figures and it was Jaden Jones — who logged 10 points.

Ron Harper Jr. shot just 1-for-9 on the night while Mulcahy was 2-for-11. Cliff Omoruyi faced his first tough test of the season in the Big Ten down low with Cockburn. The positive is that he stayed out of foul trouble but totaled just eight points and three rebounds.

The thrill of a victory over Clemson came to a screeching halt in Champaign. The Scarlet Knights will now have to prepare for a date with eventual No. 1 Purdue on Thursday night.