CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Jayden Epps and Sencire Harris are getting comfortable being the go-to guys in the Illinois basketball backcourt. With Skyy Clark stepping away from basketball and the program last week, Epps and Harris are now the main options at point guard for the Illini (10-5, 1-3 B1G) heading into the meat of the conference schedule.
“I think I’m doing good,” Harris said on Monday before the team departed for Lincoln, Nebraska. “My team trusts me, I’m here to get them the shots and what they need so it’s an amazing opportunity so I’m not going to take it for granted or anything.”
Harris has started the past three games but hasn’t scored since the Bethune-Cookman game on Dec. 29, netting a career high 12 points. After a tough outing at Northwestern where the Canton, Ohio native committed four fouls while only playing nine minutes, Harris was able to see 16 minutes on the court against Wisconsin, getting three steals.
Epps has only started one game this season but is playing starters’ minutes, averaging 24.4 minutes per game. The Norfolk, Virginia native scored 15 points against the Badgers Saturday off the bench, making 5-of-8 shots from the field, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
“It’s not easy playing at this level as a freshman, it’s very hard to play on the ball as a freshman,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “Processing the calls and learning that and both of those (Epps and Harris) and really all of our guys are getting much better at it.”
Illinois could be getting a big piece back to the lineup sooner rather than later with Underwood saying Monday sophomore wing Luke Goode is pain free in his recovery from a foot injury. Goode got hurt in a preseason secret scrimmage against Kansas and has yet to suit up this season. Goode is scheduled for an appointment this week, he’s hoping to get cleared to return to practice.
Illinois heads to Nebraska Tuesday night for an 8 p.m. tip-off on Big Ten Network. The Huskers are 9-7 overall this season and 2-3 in league play.