5 big questions for the Illinois basketball team against Minnesota

Coming off a much-needed win over Iowa, the Illinois basketball team welcomes in Minnesota on Wednesday night in what could be a win-or-go-home game for the Golden Gophers.
Feb 24, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33)
Feb 24, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Does Coleman Hawkins continue his hot offensive play?

I touched on how well the Illinois bench played against Iowa. They were spectacular in the close win. There is no doubt they should be used more against Minnesota and moving forward. I have to give a lot of credit to Coleman Hawkins as well.

Hawkins played some great basketball and put up a massive offensive number against the Hawkeyes. He dropped 30 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Hawkins also added nine free throws in the game.

So, I want to see if Hawkins can have a great encore performance. Can Hawkins continue his hot offensive play against a team that he has struggled against?

There is no doubt Hawkins can light up the scoreboard on any given night. He showed that against Iowa, and he has done something similar to that performance throughout his career. But Minnesota has been a different animal.

Hawkins’ best game against the Golden Gophers came just over a year ago Wednesday when he finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. This performance was an outlier, though.

While Illinois has seen tremendous success against Minnesota during the Hawkins era, going 5-0, Hawkins has had a hard time for one reason or another. His five-game averages against the Golden Gophers are 5.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while going 11-of-24, 45.8%, from the field and 4-of-13, 30.8%, from three-point range.

Not only is Hawkins coming off a career-high scoring night against Iowa, but he is going up against a Minnesota team that he has traditionally struggled against. Let’s see what type of encore performance he has in store.