CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — In a matter of minutes, Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn helped turn the game around for his team.
He scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half as Illinois silenced Minnesota, 84-71, on Sunday.READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: Dangerous Driving Conditions With Snow Causing Low Visibility For Friday Commute
Malcolm Hill added 22 points with seven rebounds and five assists. The duo combined to outscore Minnesota 33-31 in the second half.
Illinois (13-16, 5-11 Big Ten) shot 73.9 percent from the field in the second half, using a 29-8 run to open up the lead and run away with the game.
“I love the response that I saw,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “Obviously, we didn’t play well in the first half.”
Minnesota (8-20, 2-14) led the entirety of the first half.
But the Illini had nine steals in the second half to turn it around.
“Our defense jump-starts our offense,” Hill said.
The Golden Gophers were playing without leading scorer Nate Mason (13.8 points per game), as well as guards Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer, who all missed Sunday’s game for a violation of team rules.READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: City Deploys Over 200 Plows Amid Lake Effect Snow
“Today was unfortunately not as much about wins and losses but more about the culture of our program,” said Minnesota coach Rich Pitino. “It was about making sure our guys understand that this thing is bigger than just basketball and we’re going to do what we believe is right.”
Mason has played more minutes than any Golden Gopher this season (averaging 32.6).
Pitino said it was “challenging” to adjust to losing three guards prior to the game.
Jordan Murphy stepped up early for the Gophers, putting up 17 points and eight rebounds in the first 20 minutes. But Illinois held the freshman to five points in the second half while he turned the ball over six times. Murphy ended the game with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Minnesota used an 11-0 run to open the game and jump out to a 40-32 halftime lead.
Stephon Sharp had a career-high 19 points, while Joey King added 17 for Minnesota before fouling out with 5:11 left.
Illinois freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands had 18 points in 22 minutes, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather Alert: Heavy Lake Effect Snow Friday; Nearly 8 Inches Possible In Some Areas
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