Oct. 29—What happened
Nearly a wire-to-wire win against the No. 1 team in the country. Kansas might have reeled in Illinois a time or two throughout the course of Sunday’s charity exhibition game at State Farm Center, but the Jayhawks’ largest lead was two points — at 4-2 — and they never led in the final 30 minutes. Even when Kansas got close, including tying the game twice at 5:30 and 4:48 to play, a veteran Illini lineup never panicked or wavered.
What it means
Even if an exhibition game will have no official bearing on the 2023-24 season, Illinois proved it could not only play with, but beat, the team most everyone believes is the best in the country. There’s real value in that win even if just from a confidence standpoint. Real value in a charity exhibition between a pair of top 25 teams, too, with approximately $1 million raised to help those affected by the wildfires on Maui.
A full week of practice before the college basketball season officially starts Nov. 6. Illinois will host neighbors Eastern Illinois for a second straight season opener. The Illini beat the Panthers 87-57 a year ago behind a game-high 24 points from Terrence Shannon Jr. and a 23-point, 12-rebound double-double by Coleman Hawkins. EIU did beat the last Big Ten team it played in a wild upset in Iowa City, Iowa, last December, but a repeat in Champaign is rather unlikely.
What was said
“It’s a heck of a day when you raise over $1 million dollars for a lot of people who need it. I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that two teams competed awfully hard (Sunday), but the real winners are not here. They’re in Maui and Lahaina. When you lose thousands of buildings — thousands — and people lose their lives and you think about the number of years it will take to replenish and rebuild, to me, that’s what this is about.” — Illinois coach Brad Underwood