Bob's buzzer beaters | The band's back together

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He's back.

After missing six games because of an indefinite suspension, Terrence Shannon Jr. returned to the court for Brad Underwood's team Sunday at State Farm Center.

A judge in Springfield made it so on Friday, siding with Shannon and his attorneys in a filing against the school's disciplinary action.

The case is far from resolved. Shannon has a scheduled court appearance in Lawrence, Kan., on Feb. 23 on a rape charge against him. It is serious allegation that could lead to a long prison sentence if he is convicted.

The judge basically said the university jumped the gun. In a such a way that there is potential long-term harm to Shannon.

Shannon is on the team for the rest of the season, which Illinois fans hope goes into April. The Final Four is scheduled for Glendale, Ariz., at State Farm Stadium. Illini faithful hope the name of the building is a good sign.

Sunday's performance was all anyone could ask for: balanced scoring, high-intensity offense and a sold-out crowd. The 14th-ranked Illini are sure to rise in the national rankings on Monday after a dominating 86-63 win against the Scarlet Knights.

Shannon received a standing ovation when he exited with 2:54 left.

"He's had really a day and a half at practice with us," Underwood told Brian Barnhart and Doug Altenberger after the game. "It's integrating him back in and getting the rust off ... all-in-all, he was very solid."


Shannon entered the court for the first time Sunday at about 10:30 a.m. Fans aren't allowed into the building until 75 mintures before tipoff, so there was barely any noise. Nobody in the seats.


When the Orange Krush members filed in, the reaction to Shannon was immediate. When he hit a warmup shot, they cheered. It had been a long time since No. 0 was in the building. His last home game before Sunday was Dec. 17 vs. Colgate ... 35 days ago.

Hanging with my teammate KG 13 and varsity I Kevin Mitchell/ Football ⁦@IlliniMBB⁩ ⁦@IlliniFootball⁩ ⁦@IlliniWBB⁩ ⁦@CoachFrazierILL⁩ ⁦@IlliniAthletics⁩

— Kenny Battle (@KennyBattle33) January 21, 2024


Pretty safe bet that Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell wished the judge had waited to allow Shannon's return until after the Scarlet Knights left town.

Huge ovation when #illini Terrence Shannon Jr. checks in.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 21, 2024


Illinois played well without Shannon in the lineup. Really well. It went 4-2 with the losses to No. 1 Purdue and longtime nemesis Maryland. Do your best "Happy Gilmore" impression and say "I just hate those Terrapins." Will Shannon throw off the chemistry? To be decided.

No. 14 @IlliniMBB is so dangerous in transition. ⚡

: @BigTenNetwork

— Big Ten Men's Basketball (@B1GMBBall) January 21, 2024


Shannon didn't start, which in my opinion was the proper decision by Underwood. There are plenty of games remaining to put him back in the lineup.


For two days, Illini fans speculated about the timing for Shannon's entry into the game. The answer was 17:36 in the first half, when he checked in for Luke Goode to a roar from the packed house.He took his first shot about a minute later, misssing a three-pointer. He left the game at the 14:04 mark.

Hanging with my teammate KG 13 and varsity I Kevin Mitchell/ Football ⁦@IlliniMBB⁩ ⁦@IlliniFootball⁩ ⁦@IlliniWBB⁩ ⁦@CoachFrazierILL⁩ ⁦@IlliniAthletics⁩

— Kenny Battle (@KennyBattle33) January 21, 2024


Illini legend Kendall Gill was shown on the videoboards during a timeout at 10:55. Seconds later, Shannon was fouled while shooting and hit both free throws for his first two points since Dec. 17. He had 14 against the Raiders.

Terrence Shannon Jr. with back-to-back buckets.

: @BigTenNetwork

— Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) January 21, 2024


Brandon Gaudin was on the call for BTN along with star analyst Robbie Hummel. Gaudin does excellent work on basketball broadcasts, but I know him better as the TV voice of the Atlanta Braves. If you get a chance, check out his games on the team's regional carrier. He mixes his knowledge of the team as a lifetime Braves fan with humor. He has a great rappport with his analysts.


Shannon's next points came on a pair of free throws with 1:21 left in half, expanding the Illinois lead to 40-26.


Shannon was clearly a bit rusty. Though he hit all four free throws in the first half, he was 0 for 4 from the field, including 0 for 3 on three-pointers. He had three assists and one rebound.


Shannon opened the second half on the bench He re-entered at 15:52 during the first media timeout. Illinois led 47-34.


The crowd reaction to Shannon was positive the entire game. Missed shots led to "aww. The reaction won't be nearly as kind on the road, starting with Wednesday's trip to Northwestern. Expect the Wildcats fans to let Shannon have it verbally the entire game.And later trips will be just as nasty. Besides Northwestern, Illinois has road games at Ohio State, Michigan State, Maryland, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Hard to guess where the language will be the most profane. OK, Iowa.


Shannon scored his first point of the second half with 12:52 left when he hit the second of two free throws.


The Curse of the McDonald's promotion continues for Illinois. With 10:30 left in the game, Quincy Guerrier missed a pair of free throws.


Shannon brought the crowd to its feet a minute later with consecutive layups to expad the Illini lead to nine. The basket with 9:32 left was his first since the Colgate game on Dec. 17.


The 2-0 week — plus the return of Shannon — figures to move Illinois up in The Associated Press Top 25, which will be released Monday.

Voters who had penalized Illinois because of Shannon's absence have another factor to consider when evaluating the team.


Shannon seemed off timing-wise until about the midway point of the second half. That should improve as he able to practice with his teammates daily. No way to replicate game speed while working out on his own.


Shannon's teammates, who have supported him since his arrest, are doing what they can to help him get back in a groove. There was pressure on them to perform well Sunday. Losing with their star back on the court would have been a blow.


Flyin' Illini star Kenny Battle cheered from the stands. Great to have him and Gill in the building at the same time.


Shannon moved into double figures with 4:53 left on a pair of free throws. Next came another layup. As he stepped to the line to complete the three-point play, a fan in the upper reaches of the arena shouted "We love you."

A few minutes later, his dunk produced the loudest roar of the game.