Bench boosts Illinois to regular season finale win at Rutgers
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Michael Finke and Aaron Jordan came off the bench to combine for 34 points and lead Illinois past Rutgers 75-62 on Sunday.
Deshawn Freeman blocked a shot by Trent Frazier and then assisted Eugene Omoruyi (14 points) on a fast-break layup to give Rutgers (13-18, 3-15 Big Ten) a 36-35 lead.
However, Frazier answered with a 3-pointer as Illinois (14-17, 4-14) retook a lead they would never surrender, building it to as much as 15.
Illinois led 15-9 after Mark Alstork made a layup midway through the first half. While Rutgers was able to overcome the early deficit and trade leads, Illinois was able to build a lead of seven before taking a 35-30 lead into half.
Corey Sanders scored 18 points, six rebounds and four assists for Rutgers.
Leron Black added 14 points for Illinois.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini secured themselves the No. 12 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. A solid start for first-year coach Brad Underwood.
Rutgers: Picked to finish last in the Big Ten for the fourth year in a row, the Scarlet Knights only had three Big Ten wins. That leaves them at the bottom of the conference along with Iowa as second-year coach Steve Pikiell tries to rebuild the downtrodden program.
Illinois: Will take on either Northwestern or Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Rutgers: Will take on Illinois or Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.