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Plummer’s late free throws lift Illini by Chattanooga 54-53

Illinois' Kofi Cockburn dunks against Chattanooga during the first half of a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Friday, March 18, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH — Alfonso Plummer scored 15 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 12 seconds to go, and fourth-seeded Illinois escaped 13th-seeded Chattanooga 54-53 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Big Ten co-champion Illini never led until the final minute and survived when Chattanooga star Malachi Smith missed twice in the closing seconds.

Smith’s runner in the lane was swatted by Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins and his pull-up jumper just before the clock expired clanged off the rim.

Illinois will play fifth-seeded Houston in the second round.

 

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Associated Press

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