PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Ron Harper Jr. hit all five of his 3-pointers and scored 27 points, and Rutgers remained unbeaten at home with a 72-57 victory over No. 22 Illinois on Saturday, sending the Illini to their fourth straight loss.
Gio Baker and Akwasi Yeboah added 12 points apiece and Myles Johnson had 11 rebounds as the Scarlet Knights (18-8, 9-6 Big Ten) improved to a nation’s best 17-0 at home.
Indiana was the last Big Ten program to start 17-0 at home, doing it 2015-16.
Illinois (16-9, 8-6) played without leading scorer Ayo Dosunmu (15.8 points). The sophomore guard hurt his left knee at the final buzzer in a loss against Michigan State on Tuesday night. There was no structural damage, and he made the road trip, watching the game in sweats.
Alan Griffin had 14 points to lead the Illini. Kofi Cockburn added 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Andres Feliz added 10 points.
Feliz hit a 3-pointer to get Illinois within 43-42 early in the second half, but Johnson scored underneath and Harper nailed a 3-pointer to ignite an 11-point run that gave the Scarlet Knights at 54-42 lead.
Illinois, which shot 31% from the field, never got closer than seven points again. It trailed by 20 late.
Harper was the story for Rutgers in the opening 20 minutes. He scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in helping the Scarlet Knights take a 34-32 lead.
Illinois: After being ranked the last five weeks, the Illini are going to fall out of the poll.
Rutgers: Home sweet home. The problem for the Scarlet Knights is they are 1-6 on the road and if the NCAA is looking to keep them out of the tournament, that’s the reason.