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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: No. 4 Marquette faces No. 23 Illinois in Gavitt Games

Photo by Keifer Russell
No. 4 Marquette men’s basketball before its 95-65 win over Rider Friday night at Fiserv Forum.

It was two years ago that guard Tyler Kolek entered his name into Marquette men’s basketball lore with the steal and score and-one layup to beat the then-No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini 67-66 Nov. 10, 2021.

During the Gavitt Games’ farewell tour, No. 4 Marquette meets No. 23 Illinois again, this time at the State Farm Center in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Tuesday night.

Here is a look at the Top 25 matchup:

What to know about the Illini 

Like Marquette, Illinois enters Tuesday’s game 2-0 with wins over Eastern Illinois and Oakland.

Illinois has reached the last three NCAA Tournaments, most recently losing 73-63 to No. 8 seed Arkansas last year in the first round. The Golden Eagles will be the Illinis’ first opponent ranked inside KenPom’s top 50 this season.

Fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr. was named a Preseason Second-Team All-American. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 17.2 points per game last season and came back for his final year of eligibility. He is the Illini’s leading scorer this season, putting up 16 and 15 points in their two wins.

Players to Watch

  • The big story heading into this game is senior guard Tyler Kolek’s health. He injured his ankle in Friday’s 95-65 win over Rider. The Cumberland, Rhode Island native is averaging 10 points, five assists and five rebounds per game so far this season.
  • Junior guard Kam Jones has been the Golden Eagles’ offensive spark plug this season. He is averaging 21.5 points per game in two games and shooting 50% from three, which earned him Big East Player of the Week honors.
  • 6-foot-10 senior forward Coleman Hawkins is a name Marquette fans will recognize — he had 13 points and eight rebounds when the Illini visited the Golden Eagles in 2021This season, he is averaging 4.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. Hawkins is a versatile big that loves to stretch the floor.
  • 6-foot-6 sophomore guard/forward Ty Rodgers is Illinois’ glue guy. He averages eight points per game. The Saginaw, Michigan native makes hustle plays and is not afraid to get on the floor.

Keys to the Game 

  • Marquette: Go over on screens. In Illinois’ 82-75 preseason charity game win over No. 1 Kansas, Shannon Jr. put up 28 points and shot 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. A big part as to why was the Jayhawks going under on ball screens, something Illini head coach Brad Underwood alluded to in his post-game presser. The same thing happened in Illinois’ win over Eastern Illinois, which helped Shannon Jr. score 16 points. If the Golden Eagles go over on screens, they will force the ball out of Shannon Jr.’s hand and shut him down.
  • Illinois: Force turnovers. This team doesn’t force a lot of turnovers on the defensive side of the ball, which is an issue regarding an elite passing team like Marquette — which had 23 assists on 34 made baskets against Rider. Disrupting the Golden Eagles’ offense and knocking them out of their rhythm could lead to smoother sailing at home. 

How to Watch 

This story was written by Trevor Hilson. He can be reached at [email protected] or @hilsontrevor on Twitter/X. 

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About the Contributors
Trevor Hilson
Trevor Hilson, Sports Audio Producer
Trevor Hilson is from Muskegon, Michigan and he is a journalism major. He is the Sports Audio Producer for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, he plays a lot of golf and gives lessons to his friends. He is excited for the national championship banner going into the Fiserv rafters for men's hoops at the start of next season.
Keifer Russell
Keifer Russell, Staff Photographer
Keifer Russell is a junior from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin studying digital media and public relations and is a Staff Photographer of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire he enjoys rock climbing, photography (figures), as well as finding and listening to new music. He is very excited to further refine his photographic content over the next year

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