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Illini Men Soul-Searching After Going 0-3 At Maui

Illini Giorgi Bezhanishvili & Andres Feliz wrestle the ball from Xavier’s Tyrique Jones.

Illini Giorgi Bezhanishvili & Andres Feliz wrestle the ball from Xavier’s Tyrique Jones, Wednesday evening in at the Maui Invitational Tournalment Rob McColley/Illinois Public Media

The Illini men finished the Maui Invitational in last place after losing 83-74 to Xavier Wednesday in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Illinois was 0-3 in the tournament, losing to the eventual tournament champion Gonzaga 84-78 on Monday in the quarterfinals, followed by an 84-68 loss to Iowa State in the consolation second round on Tuesday. 

Coach Brad Underwood said the experience reminded him of what he wants to build at Illinois.

“I felt like offensively, we played well enough the first half,” said Underwood.  ”We forced eleven turnovers. And yet, they shoot close to 70 percent. And we opened the second half in-zone. And we had three straight missed assignments. And that’s something we’ve got to --- I’ve got to do a better job of. This is on me. This is a young team. I knew we were going to get three unbelievable opponents in this. … They had their programs established. I don’t want good teams, I want great programs.”

Point guard Trent Frazier cast doubt on his team's mindset, while supporting his coach's mission.

“I know what Coach Underwood wants out of this program,”, said Frazier. “I think for me, I’ve got to do a better job as a leader. I’ve got to bring my teammates together. We kind of just tend to go our separate ways and get mad at each other. And I think that’s what caused us not to get a win tonight. I think Coach is doing an unbelievable job with this program. He’s working his ass off --- I’m with him.”

Ayo Dosunmu led all players in scoring with 19. Frazier added 18 points and Aaron Jordan 16 for the Illini.

Quentin Goodin led Xavier with 15 points.

Illinois allowed Xavier to shoot 57% from the floor, and 40% from the arc. The Musketeers out-rebounded the Illini 37-25.

Illinois drops to 1-4 on the season. Xavier is now 3-3.

Gonzaga Wins Maui Title

Third-ranked Gonzaga, the team that defeated Illinois in the tournament quarterfinals on Monday, has become the first team ever to beat Duke in the Maui Invitational Wednesday.

The top-ranked Blue Devils had been 17-0 all time on the island until Rui Hachimura scored 20 points to lead the No. 3 Zags to an 89-87 victory in the title game. Zach Norvell Jr. chipped in 18 points for Gonzaga, which beat a No. 1 team for the first time and ended Duke's 17-game winning streak in the tournament.

The 5-1 Blue Devils trailed by 16 in the second half before tying it at 87. Hachimura scored on a hard drive for the winning margin.

Gonzaga secured the win by blocking four shots in the final 46 seconds, including Brandon Clarke's rejection of R.J. Barrett's drive on the final play.

Barrett had 23 points and Zion Williamson scored 22 for Duke.