LAS VEGAS, Nev. (WCIA) — Illinois basketball can hang with the best in the nation. The Illini pulled off a huge win over the number 8 ranked UCLA last night in the desert.

On the biggest stage of the season so far, Terrence Shannon Jr. gave the Illini crowd plenty to cheer about. The senior tied a program record making eight 3’s, grabbing 10 rebounds and leading the Illini to a marquee win over a Top 10 team.

“I was in the zone the whole game,” Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. said. “I just remember, it was actually a media timeout and actually Matt came to me and told me I had to get aggressive.”

The Las Vegas lights nearly seemed too bright for Illinois, at one point down as many as 15 early in the second half, but the Illini turned up the pressure from there using a full court press to spark a 24-8 run, taking a lead they never gave back.

“I’m really proud of this group,” Illini head coach Brad Underwood said. “15 down, 8th-ranked team in the country. A lot of unknowns, a lot of guys who have never been there, never have done anything remotely close to what this was about”

The transfer portal showed its value in the win, not only did Shannon shine, Baylor transfer Dain Dainja scored 13, with fellow Bears transfer Matthew Mayer getting back on track. After a tough start to the season, Mayer scored 11 points, flashing what he can be.

“I’ve been missing shot,” Illinois forward Matthew Mayer said. “It was a new game today, I was just trying to play as hard as I could. It really didn’t matter to me that much, people say a lot of stuff about how I’m not scoring enough but we’ve won every game by 40 and so it didn’t really matter to me”

So now it’s a Sunday showdown against 16th-ranked Virginia for the Main Event title after the Cavaliers upset No. 5 Baylor in the opening game here Friday night. The Illini are looking to win their first multi-team tournament title since 2014, in an event also played here in the desert.