Ayo Dosunmu usually steps up for Illinois when the Illini need a guy.
But on Tuesday night, with Dosunmu fouling out for the first time in his career, Illinois needed a different guy.
Without their superstar, the Illini found answers from Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo down the stretch to hang on for a 75-71 win over Indiana in overtime in a game that started at 9:05 p.m. ET and ended almost at midnight. The victory snaps Illinois’ seven-game losing streak in Bloomington.
“At the end of the day, this game could resonate a lot because we didn’t have (Ayo),” said head coach Brad Underwood after the win.
With Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili fouled out, and Curbelo in foul trouble, the Illini first turned to “no hesitation Trent” to keep No.12 Illinois (12-5, 8-3 Big Ten) close.
Fresh off of a season-high 24-point performance against Iowa, Frazier’s heater continued. When the Illini trailed by six late in the second half, the senior guard went on a personal 8-0 run to give Illinois the lead.
Frazier finished with 19 points, including four makes from behind the three-point line and a crucial free throw in extra time.
In the early going, fouls were prevalent — a trend that continued. The game featured more fouls committed than field goals made.
“You have to adjust every night to how a game is being officiated,” Underwood said.
Illinois’ most recent two games have been filled with the best big men the Big Ten has to offer. After holding Iowa’s Luka Garza to 19 points on Friday, the Illini were faced with the task of handling Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Once again Kofi Cockburn was up to the challenge, holding Jackson-Davis to under his season average in points. Both bigs finished with a double-double: Cockburn with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Jackson-Davis with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
In the overtime period, the Illini kept the Hoosiers (9-8, 4-6 Big Ten) off the score sheet until seven seconds remained.
“Indiana is a great defensive team, not a good one, a great one,” Underwood said. “We won one tonight with our defense.”
But it wasn't that way the whole game. In the first half, both teams traded punches. The Hoosiers closed out the period on a 13-3 run and took a 41-34 lead to the break after a back and forth half.
“It was the first time in a while that I’ve been really, really upset with my basketball team at halftime,” Underwood said. “I really challenged my guys at halftime.”
The Illini were up for the challenge.
It wasn’t quite uncharted territory for Illinois, who have trailed at the half several times in conference play.
The second-half surge did not come without any additional tribulations. Dosunmu picked up his third foul with over 15 minutes left in the game, and his fourth with nine minutes left, forcing him to spend time on the bench.
The referees were not hesitant to blow the whistle all game long, as the Illini had nine fouls before nine minutes had gone by in the period. For almost six full minutes of play in the middle of the half, the only points scored by either team were free throws.
The fifth foul on Dosunmu came on a charge — on a play where he converted the bucket — that announcers Dave Fleming and Dan Dakich did not agree with, with just under three minutes to play. The Illini have relied on Dosunmu to close out games, Tuesday night it was everybody else tasked with the job.
The Illini were ultimately able to force overtime, riding the production from Frazier (15 second half points) and Cockburn (eight points, six rebounds in the second half).
“We just played harder,” Underwood said. “We were much more effective in the second half.”
Once they reached the extra period, the Illini prevailed for their third win in a row.
Trayce Jackson-Davis makes his money at the free throw line. The National Player of the Year candidate is one of four players in the NCAA to have made over 100 free throws this season, with free throws accounting for more than 30% of his points this season (he averages over 20 points per game).
Jackson-Davis entered Tuesday’s game as one of two players to shoot over 140 free throws and shot 7-of-10 from the charity stripe against Illinois.
- Kofi Cockburn notched his NCAA-leading 12th double-double of the year.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis (IU) put up his sixth double-double of the season.
- Giorgi Bezhanishvili is 3-of-5 from deep this season, with two of his three makes against Indiana (one each game, both Illini wins).
- Race Thompson (IU): 18 points
- Illinois leads the Big Ten in three-point shooting, shooting at a 40% clip from behind the arc.
- Dosunmu extended his streak of scoring double-digits to 32 straight games before fouling out for the first time this season.
- This was Illinois’ first win at Indiana since 2010.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Ayo was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday for his 25-point effort in the Illini’s win over Iowa.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Kofi could've also dunked Jackson-Davis if he wanted to
TWEET OF THE GAME
Because this happened for six minutes in the first half.
Finally, I’ve always wanted a rundown of the Big Ten’s NBA Draft prospects while watching a game.— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) February 3, 2021
HE SAID IT
“Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. That was a great win,” — Brad Underwood said to persuade people not of focus on the way the game was officiated.
The Illini are back in action on Saturday in Champaign. Illinois will battle No. 19 Wisconsin at State Farm Center at 1:30 p.m.