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Illinois vs. Rutgers score: Illini star Terrence Shannon Jr. returns to lineup after rape charge, suspension

Illinois men’s basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. returned to the team’s lineup on Sunday less than a month after he was charged with rape in connection with a Sept. 8 incident in Kansas. Shannon, the team’s leading scorer, did not start but played 28 total minutes in an 86-63 win over Rutgers. His clearance came after a federal judge  issued a preliminary injection paving the way for him to return to the team earlier this week. 

Shannon missed six games in total while serving a suspension before the judge’s ruling handed down Friday, which Illinois responded to by reinstating Shannon to full status. University spokesperson Robin Kaler said on Friday that Shannon will be available for competition and they are continuing to review and monitor the case, though how much — or if — he would play this weekend was not made clear.

He played 28 minutes in the blowout win, just a tick below his season average. 

Upon Shannon’s suspension from the university in December, Shannon and his legal team filed suit against Illinois, claiming he was not granted due process before being suspended. That temporary restraining order took weeks to play out but was on Friday granted to provide him temporary relief to return to the team even as his case continues to play out in the courts. 

Shannon has a preliminary hearing date in the rape case scheduled for Feb. 23.

“This team has really connected. They’re very leveled emotional,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood of how the last few days have been with the team welcoming Shannon back into the mix. “They saw a teammate be able to come back, and there’s always joy in that. This team has done an incredible job of staying in the moment of what’s truly important, and it hasn’t been the outside noises, the other people. It’s what makes this team really special — their ability to focus on the next game and winning basketball games.”

Shannon’s 28 minutes were the fewest he has played since a Nov. 24 blowout win over Western Illinois, and Underwood said postgame that it was intentional as the team integrates him back into things off of a month-long suspension.

“I thought he was fine. He was very solid,” Underwood said of Shannon’s performance. “He’s had a couple days of practice. Integrated him back in a nice way. … The integration process [we will] have to be a little bit patient with, but there’s no doubt it’s back to who we were, so to speak.”

With the win, Illinois improved to 5-2 in Big Ten play and stayed one game off the pace of conference-leading Wisconsin.

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