Scoring on its first six possessions in overtime Wednesday night, 11th-seeded Illinois outlasted No. 14 Northwestern 74-69 in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament at the United Center in Chicago.
Trent Frazier gave the Fighting Illini (12-20) the lead for good when he drained a 3-pointer with three minutes left for a 68-66 lead. It was part of an 8-0 run that freshman Ayo Dosumnu capped when he hit a 3-ball at the 2:10 mark to make it a five-point game.
Another freshman, forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, pumped in a game-high 26 points before fouling out late in regulation. Frazier finished with 21 and Andres Feliz stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. It was his first career double-double.
Illinois advances to play sixth-seeded Iowa, which has dropped four straight and five of its last six games, on Thursday night.
A.J. Turner scored 20 points to pace the Wildcats (13-19), who played without top scorer Vic Law (leg injury). Dererk Pardon added 17, while Miller Kopp and Aaron Falzon each tallied 11 points.
Northwestern forced overtime when Turner canned two free throws with 17.1 seconds left in regulation. Illinois had a chance to win the game as time expired, but Feliz missed a layup facing heavy defense.
The first half was basically Bezhanishvili against Northwestern. The 6-foot-9 Austrian, who was born in Georgia but moved to Vienna at the age of 14 to be with his mother, scored Illinois’ first 14 points in a span of just over 10 minutes.
Kipper Nichols became the first Fighting Illini player other than Bezhanishvili to score when he made a couple of free throws at the 8:54 mark of the half. But the Wildcats evened the score at 16 on a 3-pointer by Kopp with 8:20 remaining.
A jump hook by Bezhanishvili with 4:07 left pushed Illinois’ lead to 26-20, but Northwestern sliced it to 30-27 at the half when Pardon sank a pair of foul shots with 58 seconds on the clock.
—Field Level Media