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Illinois alone atop the Big Ten after season sweep of Michigan

It’s fun being at the top.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s late January and the Illinois Fighting Illini are the sole owners of first place in the Big Ten.

The Illini (15-5, 7-2) picked up their third straight Big Ten road win and sixth overall in dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a 64-62 victory over the Michigan Wolverines.

The implications for this game were plenty: first place in the Big Ten, snapping a 10-year drought in Ann Arbor, the best start to conference play since the 2004-05 season, extending the winning streak to six.

Just like it started, it ended the same way. An Ayo Dosunmu jumper opened the ballgame and sealed it with 0.5 seconds left as Illinois escaped Ann Arbor with one of its toughest wins of the season.

Despite missing much of the second half due to foul trouble, Trent Frazier stepped up to the line and tied things at 62. When a missed Jon Teske jumper clanged out, Andres Feliz corralled the rebound and Illinois took one of its final timeouts with 24 seconds remaining. The rest is history.

Dosunmu got the party started with 16 first half points, and it was all Ayo from there. With Kofi Cockburn struggling to find the bottom of the net (0-4 FG) and Trent Frazier on the bench the last several minutes of the half due to foul trouble, Dosunmu stepped up in a big way. The sophomore exploded for 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with three boards and an assist.

Defensively, the Illini locked down the Wolverines, holding them to multiple cold streaks from the floor. Michigan (11-8, 2-6) shot just 9.1% from behind the arc and 35.5% from the field in the first half as Illinois headed to the locker room with a 34-30 lead.

Unfortunately for the Illini, the shooting woes for the Wolverines did not carry over to the second half. Seniors Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske’s 17 and 12 points, respectively, paced Michigan in the second half. But Dosunmu’s career high 27 points and 12 second half points for Andres Feliz wouldn’t let the Illini go down without a fight. The duo combined for 23 Illinois’ last 25 points of the ballgame, while Frazier watched from the bench. The two squads continued to trade blows as this one came down to the wire, but it was Illinois that came out on top, 64-62.




The Illini return home to take on the Minnesota Gophers (11-8, 5-4) on Jan. 30. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on FS1.