Freeman’s 3-Pointer Lifts Rutgers Over Illinois
DeShawn Freeman's sixth 3-pointer of the season may have knocked Illinois out of the NCAA Tournament and put coach John Groce out of a job. Freeman scored 21 points and hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to lead Rutgers past Illinois 62-59 on Saturday. Freeman hit the game-winner from the wing, before flinging Tracy Abrams' missed 3-point attempt into the student section, along with Illinois' NCAA Tournament hopes and Groce's job status.
Both were in major question before Illinois (18-13, 8-10) reeled off a four-game winning streak heading into the regular-season finale against Rutgers. With the loss, both questions now re-emerge.
Illinois led 44-34 after Michael Finke made a 3-pointer with 14:44 to go but Rutgers (14-17, 3-15 Big Ten) rallied, taking a 55-54 lead with five minutes remaining after Corey Sanders scored six straight points.
The Illini ended the regular season winning four out of five, but the loss may end its NCAA Tournament hopes and Groce's tenure. They'll need to make a serious run in the Big Ten Tournament to change both of those.
Malcolm Hill and Maverick Morgan each scored 16 points for Illinois (18-13, 8-10).
Corey Sanders had 17 points for Rutgers.