It took Dan Monson midway through his first Big Ten season. It took Tubby Smith until the Big Ten tournament in his first season after a miracle shot. It took Richard Pitino early in his first Big Ten season.

Entering Wednesday, third-year Gophers coach Ben Johnson hadn't beaten his first ranked opponent — something his predecessors did much earlier in their tenures.

Dawson Garcia helped the Gophers hang with the Big Ten's highest-scoring offense in a shootout, but his 29 points weren't enough for a much-needed signature upset in a 105-97 loss Wednesday to No. 13 Illinois at State Farm Center in Champaign.

The Gophers (17-11, 8-9 Big Ten) fell to 0-15 against ranked opponents since Johnson arrived in 2021-22, but they also lost their 18th straight road game against ranked foes back to the Pitino era.

"We knew, to beat this team and to be in the game, we had to score," Johnson said on the postgame radio show. "I'm just most proud of the battle, the fight and the perseverance on the road against a really, really good team."

The Gophers allowed their most points in a regulation game since 107-86 loss against Iowa during the 1987-88 season. The U's 97 points was the most in a regulation loss since falling 113-101 at Michigan on Feb. 5, 1968.

Minnesota's NCAA tournament résumé lacks big wins, but this team definitely passes the eye test with offensive talent. Besides Garcia, freshman Cam Christie had 17 of his 23 points in the first half for the Gophers, who shot 60% from the field in the game. Elijah Hawkins also had 10 points, 12 assists and zero turnovers.

Shooting 61% in the game, the Illini (21-7, 12-5) had an answer for every big shot after leading 48-45 at halftime. There were 20 lead changes, including 14 in the first half.

Terrence Shannon Jr. had a team-high 29 points for the Illini, who haven't lost to the Gophers at home since 2017. Marcus Domask and Coleman Hawkins added 22 and 20 points for Illinois, respectively.

"They've got a bunch of guys who can really score it," Johnson said. "We forced tough shots from two and from three. We were able to execute offensively and make a game of it the whole way through."

BOXSCORE: Illinois 105, Gophers 97

Big Ten basketball standings

In the second half, Christie's fifth three pulled the Gophers within 72-70 with just under 11 minutes left, but Illinois would gain separation with a 19-9 run.

Hawkins hit 1-for-2 on free throws to cap an 8-0 run that made it 91-79 around the five-minute mark that was too much to overcome. The Gophers pulled within 101-94 after Mike Mitchell's four-point play with 48 seconds to go. No stops, though, down the stretch was their downfall.

After a season-low in points in a 73-55 loss Sunday at Nebraska, the Gophers were part of the highest-scoring regulation Big Ten game in 15 years. Illinois outscored Minnesota 50-38 in points in the paint. The Gophers had the edge from deep by shooting 14-for-20 from three.

Unlike his first two seasons, Johnson assembled a roster to compete with anyone, but the Gophers rarely had opportunities to face ranked opponents after a soft nonleague schedule and with a down year in the Big Ten. They only lost two games to ranked teams before Wednesday vs. No. 13 Wisconsin (61-59 at home) and No. 2 Purdue (84-76 on the road).

After hosting Penn State and Indiana in back-to-back home games, the Gophers have another quality victory opportunity left in the regular season at Northwestern on March 9.

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.