Indianapolis Star
National Basketball Association
Rutgers 72, Illinois 57
When: 4:30 PM ET, Saturday, February 15, 2020
Where: Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), Piscataway, New Jersey
Officials: # Chris Beaver, # Kelly Pfeifer, # Bo Borski
Attendance: 8000

Ron Harper Jr. scored 27 points and Rutgers pulled away in the second half for a 72-57 victory over No. 22 Illinois on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J., to remain unbeaten at home.

Rutgers (18-8, 9-6 Big Ten) improved to 17-0 at home. It is the best home record nationally, and the Scarlet Knights are the first Big Ten team to win its first 17 home games since Indiana in 2015-16.

The Scarlet Knights reached nine conference wins for the first time since going 9-9 as a member of the Big East Conference in 1998-99. Rutgers also picked up a third win over a ranked opponent for the first time since 2001-02.

Harper shot 11 of 14 -- making all five of his 3-point attempts -- and Rutgers shot 49.1 percent.

Akwasi Yeboah and Geo Baker contributed 12 points apiece for Rutgers, which outscored Illinois 38-25 in the second half.

The Fighting Illini (16-9, 8-6) dropped their season-high fourth straight game and likely will fall out of the Top 25 poll on Monday. They played without leading scorer Ayo Dosunmu, who averages 15.8 points and injured his leg when he slipped on a wet spot at the end of Tuesday's loss to Michigan State.

Alan Griffin led Illinois with 14 points but shot 3-of-11 while Kofi Cockburn posted a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). Andres Feliz also finished with 10 points, but he and Trent Frazier combined to shoot 6 of 22.

The Fighting Illini shot 31.1 percent for the game -- 26.9 percent in the second half.

Harper scored 15 points in a competitive first half in which neither team led by more than five points. The Scarlet Knights took a 28-23 lead on a layup by Myles Johnson with 5:03 left and settled for a 34-32 halftime lead when Harper dunked with 1:10 remaining.

Rutgers took a 39-32 lead on Yeboah's 3-pointer 39 seconds into the second half, but Illinois countered with a 10-4 spurt to get within 43-42 on a 3-pointer by Feliz with 15:19 left. Illinois missed its next eight shots, and Rutgers ripped off an 11-0 run to take a 54-42 lead on a basket by Johnson with 8:49 remaining.

Griffin's 3-pointer ended Illinois' drought with 8:17 left, but the Illini were not able to get any closer than seven.

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
Illinois   Rutgers
Alan Griffin 14 Scoring Ron Harper Jr. 27
Andres Feliz 4 Assists Geo Baker 7
Kofi Cockburn 10 Rebounds Myles Johnson 11
Alan Griffin 5 Free Throws Made Geo Baker 4
Kofi Cockburn 3 Steals Ron Harper Jr. 2
Giorgi Bezhanishvili 1 Blocks Myles Johnson 2
Team Stats Summary
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
Illinois 57 31.1 8-28 11-15 10 36 3 5 11
Rutgers 72 49.1 7-15 11-12 15 36 9 5 9