Bench boosts Illinois to regular season finale win at Rutgers
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.