Rutgers defeated No. 3 Illinois 91-88 on Dec. 20. Nearly three months later, the Illini were able to get their revenge.
The Scarlet Knights ran into one of the hottest teams in the nation and were dominated from the opening tip. Illinois advanced to the semi-final round of the Big Ten Tournament with a 90-68 win over Rutgers.
Illinois put on an absolute clinic rebounding the basketball against the Scarlet Knights. They outrebounded Rutgers 44-19 in the game and 17-3 on the offensive glass. Kofi Cockburn got comfortable early and finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights were able to get control of their turnovers throughout the course of the game but this was the reason they fell behind early. Rutgers turned it over five times early as Illinois built up a 9-0 lead in the wire-to-wire victory.
An Ayo Dosunmu jump shot gave the Illini a 35-20 lead with 6:51 left in the game. Dosunmu led the way with 23 points. Illinois was able to stretch the lead to 47-28 heading into the break.
The second half was more of the same.
The Scarlet Knights showed some promise early as they were able to cut the deficit to 13 with 14:44 left in the second half. Illinois would respond with a small run to get the lead back to 65-48 with just over 10 minute remaining.
Ron Harper Jr. is a positive to take away from this game if you are Rutgers. He finished with a team-high 21 points on 7-13 from the field and he did it from inside the arc. Harper Jr. attempted just one 3-pointer while finishing 7-9 from the free throw line. Jacob Young scored 13 points while Geo Baker added 10 points.
Coming in, this game was a long shot for the Scarlet Knights against arguably the hottest team in the nation. Now, Rutgers is looking forward to Selection Sunday to hear their name called for the first time in 30 years.