The Illini were a work in progress in Brad Underwood’s second year in Champaign. Nonetheless, there were several individual performances to be proud of during the 2018-19 season.
So, Here is our list of Illinois Basketball’s top-5 individual performances of this season.
5. Ayo Dosunmu vs Georgetown
Ayo came into the 2018-19 season as a highly-heralded freshman from Chicago. His first opportunity to showcase his skill set against high-level collegiate competition came in a November matchup against Georgetown in Champaign. Dosunmu lit up the Hoyas for 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
The Hoyas pulled away late to win 88-80, but Ayo’s performance — against one of the Big East’s traditional powers— was a sign of things to come for the Illini’s freshman star.
4. Trent Frazier vs Gonzaga
Frazier missed the Illini’s Nov. 13 matchup against Georgetown due to a concussion. Less than a week later, he returned to the lineup in Illinois’ first round matchup of the Maui Invitational against Gonzaga, and oh wow, Frazier’s performance was one to be remembered.
Frazier was slow to get off-the-block in the first-half scoring only two points. But in the second half, the Illini’s sophomore guard went off for 27 points against the then No. 3 Zags.
Despite Frazier’s heroics, the Illini came up short in an 84-78 loss.
3. Andres Feliz vs Northwestern
In Illinois’ 81-76 victory over Northwestern, Andres Feliz scored 26 points. Must impressive, however, was his 16-of-17 from the charity stripe and a few key free throws late in the game that sealed the win for the Illini. Feliz’s poise was instrumental in helping the Illini get over a late-season slump and get a victory over the Wildcats.
2. Giorgi Bezhanishvili vs Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament)
When it was do or die for the Illini in their first round game of the Big Ten Tournament against Northwestern, freshman sensation Giorgi Bezhanishvili played his best. The Georgian came up huge, scoring 26 points on 12-of-15 shooting, in the Illini’s overtime win against the Wildcats.
"OMG LOOK AT GIORGI!!!!"— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) March 14, 2019
"Giorgi the only one I love."
"Giorgi....the star basketball player no one wanted!! That was an incredible play by a guy his size." pic.twitter.com/bmMM1RFUE0
The season ended the next night with a loss to Iowa, but for 24 hours, Illini fans were able to enjoy a postseason victory. For that, they can thank Giorgi.
1. Ayo Dosunmu vs Michigan State
On Feb. 5, the Illini beat No. 9 Michigan St. in Champaign in what was arguably one of the biggest upsets of the season. But this one felt less like an upset and more like a coming out party for Ayo Dosunmu. Don’t get me wrong, prior to the game against Sparty, Ayo had lived up to the hype imposed on him by the basketball recruiting industrial complex. But, the game at Michigan St. was the first time we saw Dosunmu’s offensive talent lead to a victory over an elite team.
Ayo scored 24 points and also hit two three-pointers in the final three minutes to give Illinois a 79-74 upset of No. 9 Michigan State. His points came on 8-of-14 shooting and 4-of-7 from behind-the-arc.
More importantly, Ayo showed us all the heights the Illini can reach.
Will the Chicago native be back and reclaiming the top spot of our list next season?
Will Dosunmu be back for the Illini in 2019-20?
This poll is closed