BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Ayo Dosunmu went scoreless after halftime, and fouled out almost eight minutes before the final horn. But the Fighting Illini men’s basketball team managed without him in a 75-71 overtime win at Indiana last night.
Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo took the reins in a game that saw 53 personal fouls, and steered a rag-tag group of Illini over the finish line.
Curbelo said the win was precious because Illinois did it without Dosunmu.
“Other guys stepped up today, and that was a good thing. It was a great team win,” Curbelo said. “We fought, we fought, we fought and we fought. You know, find a way to get the W, and that’s all that matters.”
Trayce Jackson-Davis had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Hoosiers. Race Thompson added 18 points and 8 rebounds, helping to propel Indiana to a 41-34 halftime lead. But Illinois regrouped in the locker room and shut their hosts down in the second period, allowing the Hoosiers just two field goals in the final seven minutes of regulation, and just one in overtime.
Da’Monte Williams grabbed two rebounds in the closing seconds, and drained a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach. Coach Brad Underwood was glad he could instill some fight in his veterans.
“It was the first time in a while that I’ve been really, really upset with my basketball team at halftime,” Underwood said after the game. “Giving up 41 points was not conducive to getting a win on the road.
“We responded. Giorgi Bezhanishvili plus-23 in the plus/minus was a huge impact. Trent stepped up, banged a couple threes. Da’Monte’s defense, rebounding and then making a couple free-throws was huge.”
Curbelo led the team with 4 assists and two steals. He also scored a dozen and grabbed five rebounds. Frazier scored a game-high 19 points to lead Illinois. Kofi Cockburn added 16 points and 10 rebounds for a 12th double-double.
But scoring was not as important, according to Curbelo, as the other end of the court.
“To be honest with you guys (the media, via Zoom) I don’t think we won the ball game because of our offense,” Curbelo said. “Our defense was huge in the overtime.
“It started with two charges. That gave us a lot of energy. That gave us an extra pump. Those two plays right there were big time. And in my opinion, those were the plays that made us win the game. Those two defensive stops.”
In total, four players fouled out during the game. Bezhanishvili succumbed 16 seconds before Dosunmu, with just under three minutes to play in regulation. Indiana lost starting guards Rob Phinisee and Armaan Franklin. The former toward the end of regulation, and the latter on the last play of overtime.
Both teams shot and missed their fair share of free throws. Indiana converted 23-34 from the line, while the the Illini were at bit better, at 24-32.
With the loss, Indiana drops to 4-6 in the Big Ten, 9-8 overall. The Illini improve to 12-5 on the season, 8-3 in conference. They’ll return to action Saturday afternoon at home against Wisconsin. That game tips at 1:30 p.m. CT on FOX.