The #12 Illinois Fighting Illini dropped their second conference game of the season on Wednesday night to #8 Minnesota.
It took a big second half for the Golden Gophers beat #12 Illinois, 84-67. Minnesota scored a total of 50 points in the second half.
The game was physical from the start. The Golden Gophers lead the Illini at the half, 34-30. It was a very poor half for Illinois on offense. In the first half, they only made 8-of-30 field goals (27%).
The second half did not start off any better for Illinois. They started the second half by missing their first seven shots. However, Minnesota started the second half strong with an 8-2 run. Illinois would fight back to make it 44-42 with 12:37 left in the second half.
The game would stay close until the 6:14 mark. After that the Golden Gophers would hold a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Although they lost, the Illini had three players finish with double-digits. Brandon Paul led the team with 21 points in the game. He has now scored double-digits in seventeen straight games to start the season.
D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams would both finish with 14 points each.
The physicality affected Illinois in the game. They had three players record four or more fouls. Nnanna Egwu and Joseph Bertrand both recorded four fouls each and Abrams fouled out of the game.
Illinois also had a terrible game from beyond the arc. They only made three the entire game and went 0-of-8 in the second half.
The Golden Gophers would have three players score double-digits and two with more than 20 points.
Joe Coleman led the team with a career-high 29 points. Andre Hollins was second on the team with 22 points while Trevor Mbakwe scored 19 points.
All of these players were able to get to the foul line as Minnesota made 21 free throws. They also shot 60% from beyond the arc.
The Fighting Illini are now 14-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten.
Their next game will be against the Wisconsin Badgers on January 12th. The Badgers defeated Nebraska, 47-41, in their last game. Wisconsin is 11-4 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.