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MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Illinois stumbles against Maryland

Jan. 16—CHAMPAIGN — Illinois basketball fans came into Sunday's game with Maryland wondering how high the Fighting Illini were going to climb in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

Seven of the top nine teams in the country had already lost to unranked teams, so the opportunity was there for Illinois to possibly move into the top-five of the country.

Only one problem.

Illinois, rated No. 10 in last week's poll, lost to unranked Maryland 76-67 on Sunday at the State Farm Center.

"Maryland deserves all of the credit. Every ounce of it. It's my fault for not getting these guys in the right frame of mind defensively," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "Now, we can join the crowd with the other top-10 teams that lost this week to an unranked team.

"That doesn't make it feel any better."

So, what happened?

The Terrapins (11-6 overall, 3-3 in the Big Ten) pounded the ball inside against the Illini, scoring 52 points of its points in the paint on layups and short jumpers.

"Maryland just came out and played a good game. They were stronger than us, tougher than us and they did what they needed to do," said Illinois junior Luke Goode. "We need to get back on brand. It's on us as players."

While Maryland guard Jahmir Young scored a game-high 28 points, it was center Julian Reese doing most of the damage with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds.

While Illinois senior center Coleman Hawkins failed to score in double figures for the first time in eight games, managing just 8 before fouling out.

"He's a matchup nightmare on offense," said Maryland coach Kevin Willard of Hawkins. "So, we decided to pound the ball inside to Julian (Reese) and make Hawkins defend that instead of switching to the perimeter. We knew that would wear him out eventually."

The Illini (12-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten) relied on just seven players for the third straight game with reserve center Dain Dainja contributing seven first-half points, but he played sparingly in the second half.

Underwood quickly denied any thoughts of fatigue for his team.

"No, we're the best conditioned team in the country with a million dollar room for recovery," Underwood said. "These are 20-year old kids that play basketball all day — they don't get tired."

So, what explanation can be given for Illinois shooting just 22.5 percent (9-of-40) from the field and just 1-of-14 from 3-point range in the second half?

"We were getting good looks. We got in the paint, got good looks and just didn't finish well in the paint," Goode said. "We just have to keep doing what we were doing.

"Quincy (Guerrier) getting downhill has been one of the most productive things all year and he just missed some around the basket that were uncharacteristic."

Guerrier wasn't the only Illinois player with issues around the basket.

According to Underwood, the Illini were 8-of-24 on layups."They are layups. How can you get a better shot than layups?" Underwood asked. "The easiest shot that God created when he created the game of basketball was a layup and a dunk.

"You have to learn at this level to make some contested one sometimes."

Graduate senior Marcus Domask had a team-high 26 points for Illinois, while Goode chipped in with 13.

Up next for Illinois, which fell to No. 14 in the latest AP Poll, is a trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., on Thursday where the Illini will play the Michigan Wolverines.

Maryland 76, Illinois 67

Maryland (76) — Jahmir Young 11-24 6-6 28, Julian Reese 8-16 4-7 20, Donta Scott 3-8 2-2 9, Jordan Geronimo 4-7 0-0 9, DeShawn Harris-Smith 2-6 0-2 5, Noah Batchelor 1-1 3, Caelum Swanton-Rodgers 1-1 2, Jamie Kaiser Jr. 0-2 0-0 0, Jahari Long 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 30-65 12-17 76.

Illinois (67) — Marcus Domask 9-19 6-6 26, Luke Goode 4-10 2-2 13, Coleman Hawkins 2-6 4-5 8, Quincy Guerrier 2-10 2-3 7, Ty Rodgers 2-8 1-2 5, Dain Dainja 2-4 3-4 7, Justin Harmon 0-7 1-2 1. Totals: 21-64 19-24 67.

Maryland 37 39 — 76

Illinois 39 28 — 67

3-pointers — Maryland 4-17 (Scott 1-3, Geronimo 1-2, Harris-Smith 1-5, Batchelor 1-1, Young 0-4, Kaiser 0-2). Illinois 6-22 (Goode 3-7, Domask 2-4, Guerrier 1-4, Hawkins 0-4, Harmon 0-3). Rebounds — Maryland 41 (Reese 11, Harris-Smith 8, Kaiser 6, Scott 5, Geronimo 4, Young 2, Swanton-Rodgers 1, TEAM 4). Illinois 41 (Hawkins 7, Goode 6, Rodgers 6, Guerrier 5, Domask 4, Dainja 4, Harmon 3, TEAM 6). Assists — Maryland 14 (Young 8, Reese 2, Harris-Smith 2, Scott 1, Long 1). Illinois 8 (Rodgers 5, Domask 1, Hawkins 1, Harmon 1). Turnovers — Maryland 7, Illinois 9. Total fouls — Maryland 15, Illinois 14. Fouled out — Hawkins.

Records — Maryland 11-6 overall, 3-3 in the Big Ten. Illinois 12-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten.