INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Finke scored 17 points and made five 3-pointers to lead No. 12 seed Illinois past 13th-seeded Minnesota, 85-52, on Wednesday in the Big Ten tournament’s opening round.
The Fighting Illini (14-18) play No. 5 seed and 20th-ranked Iowa on Thursday in second-round action.READ MORE: Oak Park Condo Owners Say Repair Work Has Gone Nowhere After More Than A Year And A Half, Despite Hefty Fees To Contractor
Kendrick Nunn added 15 points for Illinois while Malcolm Hill had 14 and Jalen Coleman-Lands 13. The Fighting Illini made 32 of 58 field-goal attempts (55 percent), including 14 of 26 from 3-point range (54 percent). Nunn, Hill and Coleman-Lands were a collective 15 of 26 from the field.
Illinois outrebounded Minnesota 35-26 and forced 15 Golden Gopher turnovers. Minnesota shot 39.2 percent (20 of 51) in dropping a fourth consecutive game to end the season.
Minnesota (8-23), which finished with a school record for single-season losses, got 12 points from Charles Buggs and 11 by Ahmad Gilbert.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Nunn and Finke extended the Illinois lead to 46-27 with 15:07 remaining, prompting a Minnesota timeout. Finke’s 3-pointer was the Illini’s ninth in 24-plus minutes.
The Golden Gophers countered with a 7-0 run to slice the deficit to 46-34, but Illinois quickly extended the advantage back to 17.
Illinois made 15 of 29 opening-half shots, including 7 of 13 from beyond the arc, and led 38-22 through 20 minutes. Jaylon Tate’s 3-pointer with two seconds to play in the half extended the Illinois lead to 16.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Low 20s Monday Night; Arctic Cold Front Coming Wednesday Morning
Minnesota was 9 of 25 from the field before halftime, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range. The Golden Gophers were guilty of eight first-half turnovers, which led to 14 Illini points. Illinois also got nine first-half points from non-starters while Minnesota’s reserves went scoreless.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had only eight players available for the game after senior forward Joey King (11.6 points per game) suffered a season-ending broken right foot on March 2 in a loss to Wisconsin. … Kevin Dorsey (6.8), Nate Mason (13.8) and Dupree McBrayer (5.9) were suspended on March 1 for violation of team rules … The Golden Gophers lost both regular-season games to Illinois … Minnesota is 0-6 all-time against Illinois in the Big Ten tournament.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini have 26 Big Ten tournament victories, second most among the 14 league teams. … Illinois has advanced to the tourney title game six times, winning twice (2003 and 2005).
Illinois: Thursday vs. No. 5 seed IowaMORE NEWS: View Live Radar
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.