Shannon scores 34 points as No. 13 Illinois takes Big Ten title with 93-87 win over Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 34 points on 15-for-17 shooting from the free-throw line, helping 13th-ranked Illinois outlast Wisconsin 93-87 in Big Ten tournament championship game on Sunday.

Marcus Domask added 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds and Dain Dainja had nine points and seven rebounds for the Illini (26-8), who won their second conference tournament title in four years after shooting 16 of 26 in the second half. They faced a double-digit deficit in all three games.

“It was a little bit different every night,” coach Brad Underwood said. “I love that.”

A.J. Storr had 24 points and Chucky Hepburn added 20 points for the Badgers (22-13), who went 7 for 20 from 3-point range after going 33 for 79 over their first three games.

Shannon finished with 102 points in three games, one short of the Big Ten Tournament record, and was voted the Most Outstanding Player. Keegan Murray had 103 points for Iowa in 2022, but the Hawkeyes played four games that year on the way to the title.

After celebrating in a shower of orange-and-blue confetti and cutting down the nets at Target Center, the Illini hustled to a side room for the NCAA Tournament selection show to learn they're the No. 3 seed in the East Region, with a first-round game on Friday against Morehead State.

Wisconsin got the No. 5 seed in the South Region and a first-round matchup against James Madison.

“My hat’s off to Wisconsin. Boy, are they good. They’ll make a lot of noise,” Underwood said.

Shannon, who broke the Big Ten Tournament single-game record with 40 points in the semifinal win over Nebraska, still faces a rape charge in Kansas for an alleged incident last year. His school-issued suspension was overruled by a federal judge after six games.

The Wisconsin fans taunted him often, but he’s not easily rattled. He coolly pulled up for a 3-pointer off the break to give Illinois a 41-40 lead with 31 seconds left before halftime, blowing a kiss at the crowd of 13,991 that was heavy with red-clad Badgers fans.

Hepburn's three-point play gave Wisconsin a game-high 61-51 lead, but Illinois went on a 21-5 run over the next 6 minutes to ensure a tight finish.

Max Klesmit made a 3-pointer for an 82-81 lead with 3:53 to go and another for the tie with 1:57 left, but Shannon answered that one from deep on the other end to make it 88-85 with 88 seconds left. Then he stole an careless dribble from Storr on the other end, drove the other way to draw a foul and sank both free throws for a five-point lead.

“Sometimes in my career there’s been moments where those 3s would have just destroyed everything,” said Coleman Hawkins, who had seven points, six rebounds and two blocks. “We made some mistakes, but we were able to keep playing.”

Hepburn was a hero of Wisconsin's overtime victory over top-seeded Purdue in the semifinals on Saturday, hitting the tying layup at the buzzer in regulation and drawing a key charging foul to set up Klesmit's winner.

The junior guard passed the 1,000-point mark for his career in this game and contributed in all kinds of ways, after sitting out the quarterfinal win over Northwestern because of a knee injury.

“I feel like he’s one of the best players in our league," Hawkins said. "When he’s aggressive, I feel like they’re a really good team.”

Illinois won the only regular-season matchup between these teams two weeks ago, a 91-83 victory fueled by Domask's 31 points in the Waupun native's first game in Wisconsin since high school. The transfer from Southern Illinois, a first team All-Big Ten pick with Shannon, shot 8 for 11 in this game.

“To come here and get the ring, this is the conversations, the visions I had with Coach during the recruiting process,” Domask said, "and we came here and got the job done."

Both the Badgers and the Illini made their eighth appearance in the conference title game, which was staged for the 26th time, a total bested only by Ohio State’s nine. Michigan State has the most Big Ten Tournament championships with seven.

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