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Ex-Salukis face off when No. 9 Illinois visits No. 1 Purdue


For four years as Southern Illinois teammates, the only time Marcus Domask and Lance Jones faced each other was during the Salukis’ practices. The stakes will be considerably higher for their next battle.

Domask and No. 9 Illinois (11-2, 2-0) will be at sold-out Mackey Arena Friday night trying to knock off Jones and top-ranked Purdue (13-1, 2-1) in a battle for Big Ten supremacy. Both teams have benefited greatly from their grad transfers who stacked up all-league accolades while playing together in the Missouri Valley.

Domask, who lit up Northwestern for 32 points, six assists and five rebounds Tuesday night, enters the game averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-high 3.1 assists. The 6-foot-6 Domask has given Illinois’ offense a new dimension over the last month with a powerful frame and the handle to back smaller guards into the post and either create shots for himself or find open teammates on the 3-point arc.

“We knew he could do it because he did a lot of it at Southern Illinois,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “He found his way into post-ups from different areas. I don’t know if we knew it was going to be like this. We really thought a lot more about it with Ty (Rodgers). Thought he could be a guy like (Jalen) Pickett (at Penn State).”

“I give a lot of credit to Rob Dosier,” Domask said. “He was a (graduate assistant) at SIU that I worked out with a lot. And we watched a lot of film on guys like Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, Luka (Doncic).”

Jones wasn’t quite the same offensive threat as Domask at Southern Illinois. He stands as Purdue’s fourth-leading scorer at 10.8 points per game entering the critical conference clash. While he gives the Boilers another shooter to put around all-American center Zach Edey, Jones’ primary role is to shut down the opponents’ best guard.

Because Domask has become Illinois’ top perimeter threat with Terrence Shannon Jr. (21.7 ppg) suspended indefinitely in the wake of a rape charge in Kansas, expect Purdue coach Matt Painter to task Jones with slowing Domask.

Jones was in charge of guarding Jahmir Young, Maryland’s all-Big Ten guard, when Purdue won by 16 Tuesday night in College Park. While Young finished with a game-high 26, all his points came in the final 30 minutes – after Purdue had established a double-digit lead.

Meanwhile, Illinois will ask wiry 6-10 senior Coleman Hawkins to slow down Edey, who’s well on his way to a second consecutive national player of the year award as he’s averaging 23.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 29.5 minutes per game.

In last year’s only meeting between Purdue and Illinois, Hawkins and Co. limited Edey to 17 points (on 6 of 13 shooting) along with a season-low-tying 6 rebounds. But Edey has developed into a better passer this year – he owns 16 assists during Purdue’s current six-game winning streak – which has made it harder for opponents to defend the Boilers as a whole.

“What we try to do a lot of is the re-post,” Painter said. “And so we’ll make you do it again. Make you come on the double (team). Throw it out. Throw it in. Make you double again. Throw it back out. There’s some possessions where we do it three times. We’re going to make (defenses) keep working.”

With Edey producing inside and guards Braden Smith (12.9 ppg), Fletcher Loyer (11.3 ppg) and Jones hitting from outside, Purdue ranks 14th nationally in 3-point shooting (38.9 percent) and boasts the nation’s second-most efficient offense at 122.2 points per 100 possessions.

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