CHAMPAIGN — Justin Harmon scored 18 points and Terrence Shannon Jr. added 16 in his return to lead five Illinois players in double figures as the No. 14 Illini beat Rutgers 86-63 on Sunday.
Shannon, in his first game back since the university was ordered to lift his suspension, came off the bench and played 28 minutes. He had four assists and made 8 of 10 shots from the free-throw line.
Shannon was suspended by the university on Dec. 28 because he’s facing a rape charge in a September incident in Kansas. But U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Lawless ruled Friday that the university had violated Shannon’s civil rights and granted a preliminary injunction that required Illinois to reinstate Shannon to the team.
The Illini (14-4, 5-2 Big Ten Conference) were 4-2 in six games without Shannon, who hadn’t played since Illinois’ 97-73 victory over Missouri in St. Louis on Dec. 22.
Clifford Omoruyi had 22 points and nine rebounds for Rutgers (10-8, 2-5).
After trailing 40-28 at halftime, Rutgers closed within 55-51 with 10:20 to go on a dunk by Omoruyi, but back-to-back layups by Shannon in 28 seconds put Illinois back in front 60-51 with 9:04 left.
Quincy Guerrier had 15 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season for Illinois, while Coleman Hawkins and Marcus Domask each added 12.
Rutgers: Omoruyi was the only Scarlet Knights player who gave Illinois problems offensively. While he was hard to stop under the basket, the 6-foot-11 center also made his first 3-pointer of the season on his first attempt.
Illinois: Illini fans showed support for Shannon by cheering when he entered the court for pregame warmups and giving him a standing ovation when he checked into the game with 17:37 to go in the first half. The cheers were even louder moments later when passes by Shannon on fastbreaks led to a dunk and layup by Hawkins in 36 seconds. Shannon’s reception on the road won’t be as friendly.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights will face No. 2 Purdue at home Sunday.
Illinois: The Illini will play Wednesday at Northwestern.