Arkansas holds off Illinois 73-63 with big defensive effort

Kelsey Kremer/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

DES MOINES, Iowa – Ricky Council IV scored 18 points and Arkansas survived some anxious moments in the second half against an Illinois team that wouldn’t go away, holding on to beat the Illini 73-63 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

Devo Davis had 16 points for the eighth-seeded Razorbacks, who used relentless defense and rebounding to build big leads but couldn’t get comfortable until the final minute. Arkansas (21-13) faces top-seeded Kansas on Saturday in the second round of the West Region.

Terrence Shannon Jr., held scoreless the first 16 minutes, finished with 20 points to lead the Illini (20-13). It was the first time in five tournament appearances since 2011 that Illinois didn’t make it out of the first round.

The Razorbacks were up by double digits in the middle of the first half, but no lead has been safe this season. In seven games they blew leads with scoring droughts of five minutes or longer.

That didn’t happen this time, though it looked like it could when Arkansas failed to land what could have been the knockout punch with 2 1/2 minutes to play. Anthony Black intercepted Coleman Hawkins’ cross-court pass and Council missed the fast-break dunk when he would have been better served to lay it in. The blown play left Arkansas coach Eric Musselman flailing his arms and screaming.

“We were in this position many times before,” Council said. “We would be up 10, up 12 at halftime, and it starts dwindling down and the other team takes the lead. So just keep that mindset we got to win the game. We all wanted to win, and just keeping our foot on the gas and not giving up. Coach gave us positive energy and we gave positive energy to each other, so we just didn’t let up. We ended up extending the lead.”

Council atoned for his missed dunk with a layup to end a 4-minute, 13-second scoring drought, and his two free throws with 1:18 left put the Razorbacks up 68-57.

“We were able to survive their run in the second half, and obviously 22 for 29 from the foul line, shooting 76% in a win-or-go-home game. John Daly will be happy,” Musselman said, referring to the pro golfer and big Razorback fan. “He gives me texts after every game about our free-throw shooting. So I’m sure he will give me a positive text tonight.”

Arkansas, which has reached the Elite Eight the past two years, led by as many as 14 points in the first half and went to the locker room ahead 36-26 following a scrambling play under the basket where Kamani Johnson battled three Illinois players for a loose ball.

The play defined the hardscrabble contest. Jackson got the ball and muscled it into the basket. Nick Smith Jr. was there to celebrate as Johnson turned to go upcourt, playfully pushing his teammate in the chest. Johnson slipped and fell and exchanged smiles with Smith when he got up. A timeout followed, and the Arkansas faithful began a raucous “calling of the hogs,” putting some extra oomph into their “Wooooo. Pig. Souie!”

Arkansas’ defense was on point from the outset, holding the Illini to 28% shooting in the first half and 38.5% for the game. The Hogs scored 19 points off Illinois’ 17 turnovers.

“I thought their defense early was the difference,” Illini coach Brad Underwood said. “We had a hard time getting into offense, and then every time we made a run we missed a layup, we turned it over, or missed free throws.”


Illinois: The Illini dropped to 1-8 all-time against Southeastern Conference teams in the NCAA Tournament. Matthew Mayer, who won a national championship with Baylor in 2021 and was the Illini’s second-leading scorer this season, missed all six of his shots and was held to two points.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are now 6-1 against the Big Ten in the tournament since 1983 and set up for another deep run if they can knock off the Jayhawks.


Arkansas’ last meeting with Kansas in the NCAA Tournament was in the 1991 Elite Eight, a 93-81 Jayhawks win.

Zach Edey is AP Big Ten Player of the Year; Painter, Collins honored

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue’s Zach Edey is The Associated Press player of the year in the Big Ten Conference and the Boilermakers’ Matt Painter and Northwestern’s Chris Collins split coach of the year honors.

Edey received all but one vote for player of the year in balloting by 14 journalists who cover the conference. Maryland’s Jahmir Young beat out Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino for newcomer of the year.

Edey and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis were unanimous selections to the AP All-Big Ten first team.

The 7-foot-4, 305-pound Edey led the Boilermakers to their first outright Big Ten regular-season championship since 2017. He goes into the conference tournament averaging 21.9 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game and is on track to become the first player since Navy’s David Robinson in 1985-86 to have at least 750 points, 450 rebounds and 50 blocked shots in a season.

Edey’s nine games of 25 points and 10 rebounds are the most for a major-college player since 2006-07, and he’s on pace to become the first Big Ten player in over 50 years to average 22 points and 13 rebounds per game in a season.

Jackson-Davis averages 20.5 points 11 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game and joins Edey as the only high-major players to average at least 20, 11 and 2. Jackson-Davis is on the first team for the second time in three years. He was on the second team last season.

Joining Edey and Jackson-Davis on the first team are Northwestern’s Boo Buie, Penn State’s Jalen Pickett and Iowa’s Kris Murray.

Young, in his first season at Maryland after playing his first three at Charlotte, leads the Terrapins with 16.3 points per game. He has nine games with at least 20 points, including 30 in a win over Ohio State, and his 37 steals lead the team.

Painter has won at least 25 games in 11 of his 18 seasons at Purdue, which is in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers were the favorites in the preseason media poll, and they spent all but three days of the conference season tied or in sole possession of first place.

Collins shares coach of the year after leading Northwestern to a tie for second place after being picked 13th. With Buie running the point, the Wildcats (21-10, 12-8) have their first overall and conference winning records since Collins’ 2016-17 team won a game in the NCAA Tournament.


Guard – Boo Buie, Northwestern, Sr., 6-2, 180, Albany, New York.

Guard – Jalen Pickett, Penn State, Sr., 6-4, 209, Rochester, New York.

u-Forward – Trayce Jackson-Davis, Sr., 6-9, 245, Greenwood, Indiana.

Forward – Kris Murray, Iowa, Jr., 6-8, 220, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

u-Center – Zach Edey, Purdue, Jr., 7-4, 305, Toronto.

-“u” denotes unanimous selection.


Guard – Jahmir Young, Maryland, Gr., 6-1, 185, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Guard – Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana, Fr., 6-6, 213, Pittsburgh.

Guard – Terrence Shannon, Illinois, Sr., 6-6, 225, Chicago.

Center – Clifford Omoruyi, Rutgers, Jr., 6-11, 240, Benin City, Nigeria.

Center – Hunter Dickinson, Michigan, Jr., 7-1, 260, Alexandria, Virginia.

Coach of the year (tie) – Matt Painter, Purdue, and Chris Collins, Northwestern.

Player of the year – Zach Edey, Purdue.

Newcomer of the year – Jahmir Young, Maryland.

AP All-Big Ten Voting Panel: Nick Bahe, Fox Sports; Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News, Fox Sports; Dave Eanet, WGN Radio, Chicago; Brian Fonseca, New Jersey Advance Media; Marcus Fuller, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Adam Jardy, Columbus Dispatch; Stephen Jones, Penn State Sports Network; Andrew Kahn, (Ann Arbor, Mich.); Ryan McFadden, Baltimore Sun; Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star; Jim Polzin, (Madison, Wis.); Scott Richey, Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette; Dylan Sinn, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette; Kennington Lloyd Smith III, Des Moines (Iowa) Register.

Trayce Jackson-Davis scores 26, leads No. 14 Indiana past Illinois

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Trayce Jackson-Davis quickly caught and surpassed his coach on Indiana’s career scoring list. It took the senior more time to help the No. 14 Hoosiers surpass Illinois.

Jackson-Davis finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and added yet another milestone to his expansive list, while Jalen Hood-Schifino made the go-ahead free throws with 30.7 seconds left to finally give Indiana the lead and a 71-68 victory.

“It’s an accomplishment,” Jackson-Davis said. “I’m just glad we found a way to get that one. They were without one of their best players and those dudes showed a lot of heart. So just finding a way down the stretch and getting stops, that was big for us.”

Jackson-Davis and the Hoosiers (19-8, 10-6 Big Ten) have won nine of their last 11 and 15 in a row on their home court. And thanks to the last of Hood-Schifino’s 13 points and Jackson-Davis’ final basket – a breakaway dunk in the waning seconds – Indiana had just enough to erase a nine-point deficit over the final 12 1/2 minutes.

Illinois guard Jayden Epps could have tied it with 16.7 seconds left but missed the first of two free throws. RJ Melendez could have forced overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was off the mark.

And while Jackson-Davis could have celebrated after finishing the game with 2,081 points – 20 more than Hoosiers coach Mike Woodson scored during his college career – it was the second-year coach who seemed most appreciative of the feat.

“I’ve been sitting in that spot for a long time, and for him to surpass it, man, it’s special,” Woodson said. “But he can’t stop there. It’s just points. He’s still staring at two things, a Big Ten title and a national title, and that’s where I’m trying to get him.”

The latest win should help Indiana’s case. At halftime, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee announced it had projected Indiana as the overall No. 13 seed.

Matthew Mayer and the Fighting Illini (17-9, 8-7) certainly had other plans – even with their top scorer, Terrence Shannon, in the concussion protocol. Mayer scored 16 of his 24 points and made all four of his 3-pointers in the first half. Epps added 12 points.

Illinois led from the moment it took a 25-23 lead midway through the first half until Hood-Schifino’s free throws in the game’s final minute. The Illini were up 48-39 with 12:41 to play when Miller Kopp made a 3-pointer, Jackson-Davis answered with back-to-back baskets and a three-point play and eventually tied the score at 56 on a layup with 6:27 to go.

“It was a great college basketball game,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I thought we did a great job on Trayce and he still had 26 points. I know what Mike is feeling when you’ve got one of the best players in the country, if not the best player in country.”


Illinois: Underwood’s team has won more road games than any other Big Ten school during the past four seasons. This year, though, the calculation has been simple. If they give up fewer than 70 points in league play, they win. If they give up 70 or more, they lose. It barely happened again Saturday.

Indiana: The Hoosiers have been unbeatable at home this season and weren’t about to let their longshot chance of winning a conference crown slip away here. If Indiana replicates its second-half performance next week on the road, it could meet those lofty preseason expectations.


Even though Indiana’s rally came up short at Northwestern on Wednesday, the Hoosiers shouldn’t lose much – if any ground – in the rankings after sweeping Illinois this season.


Jackson-Davis, the first Indiana player to top 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman that he will leave school after this season.


Illinois: Begins a two-game homestand Monday against Minnesota.

Indiana: Faces a crucial contest Tuesday at Michigan State in the Spartans’ first home game since the fatal campus shooting.

Minnesota-Illinois postponed for COVID-19 in Gophers program

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota’s game at Illinois that was scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the Gophers’ program.

The announcement was made Monday by Minnesota, which didn’t specify how many players would have been unable to play.

The Gophers (7-15, 1-11) had only eight available scholarship players for their last game, an 81-46 loss to Maryland on Saturday. Dawson Garcia (ankle) has missed the last four games, and Braeden Carrington (leg) has missed the last six. Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen will not play this season while recovering from knee injuries.

The game will be rescheduled by the Big Ten, with input from both schools.

Minnesota is next scheduled to host Iowa on Sunday. Illinois (16-7, 7-5) will host No. 24 Rutgers on Saturday.

Holmes erupts for 30 as No. 6 Hoosiers beat Illini 83-72

Wisconsin v Indiana
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Mackenzie Holmes scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Grace Berger added 18 points to lead No. 6 Indiana to an 83-72 win over No. 21 Illinois on Wednesday.

Holmes hit six of seven shots and scored 14 points in the third quarter as the Hoosiers (17-1, 7-1 Big Ten) shot 68.4% for the period after trailing the Illini (15-4, 5-3) for most of the first half.

“Whether I’m getting hot or whether I miss a few shots (my team) is always looking for me,” Holmes said.

Kendall Bostic scored 10 points during a 13-4 Illinois run that whittled the Indiana lead to seven points before Holmes hit a layup and made a free throw to give the Hoosiers some space with 4:05 left.

Holmes finished 12 of 20 from the floor and recorded her eighth double-double of the season.

“I love watching (Holmes) play,” Bostic said. “I don’t really like playing against her.”

Yarden Garzon added 13 points and Chloe Moore-McNeil pitched in with 12 points and six assists for the Hoosiers.

Genesis Bryant led Illinois with 18 points and Bostic followed with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Illinois took a 19-10 lead late in the first quarter on Brynn Shoup-Hill’s layup before Garzon and Sydney Parrish hit a pair of 3s during an 8-0 run out of a timeout to pull the Hoosiers within three.

“We responded in the right kind of way,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We didn’t blink, we didn’t panic, we didn’t take bad shots in that stretch.”

Holmes tied the game at 26 with a layup midway through the second quarter as the Illini endured a 5:20 stretch without a bucket. Berger scored six points during a 16-5 to help the Hoosiers take a 37-31 break into halftime.

“If there’s probably any area that (Holmes) has grown the most, it’s been mentally, with understanding she has a responsibility to this team to show up every night,” Moren said.


Moren notched her 189th career win at Indiana to pass Jim Izard for the most in program history.

“She hates to lose way more than she loves to win and I think that’s evident with her passion, on and off the court, for the game (and) for us,” Holmes said. “It’s a really special thing that I’m able to play for her while she gets this milestone.”


Illinois coach Shauna Green saluted the State Farm Center crowd of 5,583 for creating a rowdy atmosphere and reflected on where the Illini are at two months into her first season.

“(The players) deserve to play in front of this crowd,” Green said. “They deserve to play in that environment.”


Indiana: The Hoosiers opened a stretch of seven of 11 games against ranked foes in convincing fashion after weathering an early storm on the road. The margin for error slims further with matchups against Michigan and first-place Ohio State looming.

Illinois: Green has quickly elevated the Illini in her first season after bringing Makira Cook and her Dayton assistants to Champaign. Illinois is in position to make its first postseason appearance since an NIT berth in 2013 and could make its first NCAA Tournament since 2003.


Indiana: Visits No. 14 Michigan on Monday.

Illinois: At Northwestern on Sunday.

Illinois wins 4th straight, 78-60 over Minnesota

Penn State v Illinois
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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.