Syracuse had a woeful night on offense, making just 15 baskets as they got blown out in the second half at #16 Illinois in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, 73-44. The Orange (3-4) shot just 7-of-30 after halftime, including 4-for-22 on two-point field goal attempts as the Illini (6-1) manhandled them, running off 12 straight points to put the game away with 5:45 to play, then closed the game with 11 more markers.
SU’s offense dragged through their third straight loss, as they simply struggled to play in a cohesive manner in the second half. They only trailed by seven at halftime and got within 32-28 on a Justin Taylor three a couple minutes into the second half, but made just five shots in the final 15-plus minutes of the game.
Illinois crawled out to an early 7-1 lead as both teams struggled in the early minutes. The Orange woke up, taking their first led by running off eight unanswered points in just over a minute, including back-to-back threes from Benny Williams and Chris Bell that gave them an 11-9 advantage.
Jesse Edwards nudged the lead out to three with consecutive baskets four minutes later as part of scoring seven straight points for SU. Terrence Shannon, Jr. powered Illinois with a trio of threes in a 13-5 run to close the half and give the Illini a 30-23 lead at the break.
After Taylor’s triple drew Syracuse within 32-28, Illinois hung a 9-2 run to extend their lead out to double figures. Taylor connected from deep again, but that was the last time the Orange were within single digits over the final dozen minutes. SU hung around until about eight minutes to play when the hosts ran off a dozen straight points to grab a 60-37 stranglehold with 5:45 remaining.
The capper to the night was Williams earning two technicals and the accompanying ejection with 49.2 seconds left in the game for complaining about not getting a foul call.
Edwards had another solid effort while fighting through foul trouble. Despite being disqualified with 3:25 left, the center had nine points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks. Judah Mintz also had nine points, but shot 3-for-16 on the night. Bell and Williams each chipped in with eight.
Coleman Hawkins had a monster night for Illinois, ringing up a 15-point, ten-rebound, ten-assist triple-double. Shannon hit five three-pointers as he posted a game-high 17 points and R.J. Melendez added 15.