Game 25 preview | No. 14 Illinois at Maryland; 4:30 p.m., Saturday

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Beat writer Scott Richey breaks down the matchup between the Illini and Terrapins:


No. 14 Illinois (18-6, 9-4 Big Ten)


G/F Marcus Domask Gr. 6-6 15.4 Waupun, Wis.

G Terrence Shannon Jr. Sr. 6-6 21.1 Chicago

G/F Ty Rodgers So. 6-6 7.0 Saginaw, Mich.

F Quincy Guerrier Gr. 6-8 10.7 Montreal

F Coleman Hawkins Sr. 6-10 12.3 Sacramento, Calif.

FYI: The stat line Shannon put up in Tuesday's blowout win against Michigan — 31 points on 73/62/80 shooting — isn't exactly rare. More than 200 other players have been as productive and efficient in the last nine-plus seasons, including Domask in Illinois' home win against Northwestern. But only 21 did it in fewer minutes than Shannon's 28.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Justin Harmon Gr. 6-4 6.8 Chicago

F/C Dain Dainja R-Jr. 6-9 5.5 Brooklyn Park, Minn.

G Luke Goode Jr. 6-7 6.9 Fort Wayne, Ind.

Maryland (14-11, 6-8 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Jahmir Young Sr. 6-1 20.9 Upper Marlboro, Md.

G Jahari Long Sr. 6-5 4.8 Houston

G DeShawn Harris-Smith Fr. 6-5 6.8 Woodbridge, Va.

F Donta Scott Sr. 6-8 11.3 Philadelphia

F Julian Reese Jr. 6-9 13.4 Baltimore

FYI: Young has scored at least 20 points in a game 15 times this season, including a 21-point performance Wednesday in Maryland's come-from-behind win against Iowa. The Terrapins' scoring leader is averaging 23.5 points in his last four games, but he hasn't done so all that efficiently. Young is shooting 38 percent from three-point range in that stretch, but just 33 percent overall after making only 14 of 47 two-pointers.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Jamie Kaiser Jr. Fr. 6-6 3.9 Burke, Va.

C Caelum Swanton-Rodgers So. 6-11 1.6 Calgary, Alberta

G Jahnathan Lamothe Fr. 6-4 1.3 Baltimore


Site: Xfinity Center (17,950); College Park, Md.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDWS 93.9-FM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WPXN 104.9-FM, WDAN-1490-AM and WDNL 102.1-FM.

TV: Jason Benetti (play-by-play) and Robbie Hummel (analysis) will have the call on Fox.

Series: Maryland leads 15-7.

Last meeting: Maryland won 76-67 on Jan. 14 in Champaign.

FYI: Brad Underwood enters Saturday's game winless against Maryland in College Park, Md. The Illinois coach has two wins against the Terrapins in nine tries, with one in New York City and the other in Champaign. Underwood isn't the only Illini coach to struggle on Maryland's home court. Illinois is 1-7 all-time in College Park, with Bruce Weber getting the only win in a 71-62 victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 29, 2011, behind a team-high 24 points from Sam Maniscalco.

Beat writer Scott Richey's storylines

Offensive style borne out of necessity for Illini

Hunting matchups has become Illinois' go-to offensive strategy this season for multiple reasons. For one, it fits the personnel. Marcus Domask was built for "booty ball." Terrence Shannon Jr.'s quick first step means few defenders can keep up when he gets downhill attacking the basket. Coleman Hawkins' versatility means he can facilitate out of the mid and low post or knock down shots from the perimeter. Hunting matchups has also been the choice because of how teams have defended. Like most of the Big Ten using a center to guard Ty Rodgers and other various cross-matching situations. "We've had to adjust almost every game," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "It's been running your base stuff. It's been more on the fly making some adjustments. I still think it goes back to the emphasis being on the other end. ... We've got to understand what wins. Offense is fleeting, and we've got to keep figuring out how to win when the ball doesn't go in."

Embracing the defensive end of the floor

Illinois' defensive performance in Tuesday's win against Michigan stood as one of its best four in Big Ten play this season. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination — too much fouling and a few too many easy lobs to big man Tarris Reed Jr. — but the Illini limited three-pointers and turned the Wolverines over more than they had any Big Ten opponent other than Rutgers. Hawkins pointed to Michigan's first-half success running ball-screen actions as an area to clean up. But thought the Illini were also more disruptive. "It's all about effort," Illinois forward Quincy Guerrier added. "I think if we're locked in defensively and thinking about rebounding, we're going to be the best team in the country. "

Terrapins could be shorthanded in rematch

Maryland coach Kevin Willard has leaned on a tight rotation this season, regularly using just seven players before extending that to eight with Mady Traore in the Terrapins' last two games. The rotation might be even tighter Saturday against Illinois. Both Traore and veteran forward Jordan Geronimo suffered knee injuries in Maryland's comeback win against Iowa on Tuesday. Noah Batchelor was also out for that game and wearing a walking boot. "I'm going to have to slide (freshman Jamie Kaiser Jr.) over to the power forward spot a little bit," Willard said after the Iowa win. "We'll make it work. (Donta Scott) will go back to being the power forward, which he can. He's actually more comfortable. He plays better at that spot anyway. This time of year you've just got to figure it out."

The News-Gazette's pick

No. 14 Illinois 80, Maryland 77

All told, home teams are 21-6 in Big Ten play this month and 68-28 overall — a winning percentage of .708 — in conference action. Illinois does have three Big Ten road wins, and only Purdue boasts more with five. Snagging a fourth will require not letting Maryland guard Jahmir Young get loose and Maryland forward Julian Reese dictate the game in the post. Between just one of the Illini's last three Big Ten rematches going well and their lack of success in College Park, Md., in Brad Underwood's tenure, maybe they're due. (N-G prediction record: 21-3)