CHICAGO (WCIA) — It’s tournament time for Illinois and with it, the return of Jayden Epps. The freshman guard is available to play against Penn State Thursday night at the Big Ten tournament, per a team spokesperson.
Epps has missed the past two games with a concussion after going down in practice prior to the Michigan game. He was hospitalized overnight for tests and was not in the arena for the game against the Wolverines. He also did not travel with the team to Purdue on Sunday. Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said he was in concussion protocol earlier this week.
The match-up against the Nittany Lions is a chance to get some revenge for the Illini. Penn State beat Illinois twice in the regular season by a combined 27 points, now there is a whole lot more at stake. The two teams meet up in the 7-10 game at United Center at 5:30 p.m. with a chance to advance to the conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday up for grabs.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row,” Illinois senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr. said. “Penn State, they haven’t seen our best basketball both times. We just haven’t played them well, but we plan to change that.”
“They also got to guard us too,” Illinois junior forward Coleman Hawkins said. “So I think if we amp it up on defense and get in the paint, I think we’ll be alright.”
Who will guard Penn State’s Jalen Pickett is one of the biggest storylines going in for Illinois. Pickett put up 41 points in a Valentine’s Day drubbing last month, scoring 20 in a PSU win in Champaign in December.