But eventually normalcy set in, as Minnesota's stars powered the Golden Gophers past the Illini, winning 84 to 67. Trevor Mbakwe had 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Joe Coleman led the way all scorers with 29 points
The series of odd plays came when Brandon Paul made a one
handed slam. The basket still counted even though Paul was called for offensive
foul. On the next possession His nose started to bleed after he went to the
free throw line, and had to be taken out of the game. With Paul heading to the
locker room and Abrams in early foul trouble, John Groce was forced to use a
lineup of Sam McLaurin, Mike LaTulip, Richardson, Myke Henry and Joe Bertrand
at one point.
Paul came back out in the first half wearing a No. 12 jersey, after his original No. 3 had blood on it.
DJ Richardson scored 14 points, his first double digit point total in almost a month (he scored 11 against Norfolk State). Paul had 21 points to lead Illinois.
The rebound margin was close throughout. The Golden Gophers out-rebounded Illinois, 37 to 33. But, for being the best offensive rebound team in the nation, Minnesota's first offensive board came with 8:33 in the first half, with Illinois getting five second chance point in that game.
Transition defense was a problem for Illinois as they went into halftime. Minnesota went on a 9-2 run late in the first half, taking the lead on back to back dunks, first from Joe Coleman off a fast break, then Mbakwe at the 5:43 mark.
In the second half, the Golden Gophers jumped out to an 8-2 lead. Minnesota had all the momentum, as Andre Hollins banked in a 40 foot shot
Three straight buckets by Tracy Abrams powered Illinois' second half surge. A 10-0 run got them within 2, but Minnesota pulled away thanks to 14 fast break points.
Illinois is now 1-2 in conference play and will travel to Wisconsin on Saturday.