CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (CBS/AP) — The Illinois Fighting Illini are hoping to be dancing in March, and winning tough games like the one Saturday against Rutgers will help.
Only two Illini players put double figures on the board Saturday against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini with 18 – the fourth time in five games he has scored 18 or more.
Dosunmu scored four points, all at the free-throw line, to seal a defensive battle that saw Rutgers grab the lead early in the game.
Freshman big man Kofi Cockburn only scored 11 points, but he grabbed a season high tying 17 rebounds.
Jacob Young led Rutgers with 16 points. Ron Harper Jr. added nine for the Scarlet Knights.
Illinois went on two 6-0 runs in the second half to close the gap against a fierce Rutgers defense.
And the Illini were up two late in the game when Dosunmu had a shot blocked. But a replay showed the ball hit the backboard first and the block was goaltending.
Illinois hung on for a 54-51 win.
“It was a great feeling, knowing how it worked just paying off – but we’re not satisfied. In the beginning of the season, we knew what we were capable of. We still know what we’re capable of, so we want more,” Dosunmu said. “We want to keep striving to keep getting better and better and be the best team in the league. That’s all we can do, really.”
The Illini are 4-2 in Big Ten game play, alone in second place.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)