CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Ayo Dosunmu is becoming legendary at Illinois for his hustle, talent and an intangible yet reliable ability to take over a game and win it in the final seconds.
On Sunday, the sophomore guard (and possibly NBA hopeful either this year or next) added another chapter, scoring a game-high 17 points, including a key 3-pointer down the stretch, to lead Illinois over Indiana 67-66.
“He’s amazing,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “I’m blessed to have guys like Ayo and Kofi (Cockburn). Ayo did that in high school. He’s confident and a winner, period.”
Dosunmu hit the 3-pointer with 1:28 left to put Illinois (20-9, 12-6 Big Ten) up 65-60. Rob Phinisee then hit a 3-pointer with 1:14 left to pull Indiana (18-11, 8-10) to within two points.
Following a missed Illinois free throw by Da’Monte Williams, Andres Feliz ripped the ball away from Phinisee and called a timeout for Illinois with 13 seconds left.
Dosunmu was fouled intentionally and hit both free throws to make the score 67-63. Phinisee hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Hoosiers to make the final score 67-66.
“I’m pretty confident and I put the work in,” Dosunmu said. “So when the time comes, I can take the right shot.”
Feliz scored 15 for Illinois and Kofi Cockburn added 15 points and six blocked shots.
Aljami Durham led Indiana with 13 points. Trayce Jackson-Davis had 12 points and 12 rebounds, Devonte Green added 11 points and Phinisee 10.
It was a physical and close game from the opening tip. Indiana’s largest lead was five points, while Illinois’ was seven The Illini needed runs of 7-0 and 9-0 in the second half to pull ahead.
The score was tied 36-36 at the half.
“That was a good win for Illinois,” said Indiana coach Archie Miller. “I have to give our guys credit, too, for playing hard and giving us a chance to win it at the end.”
Underwood saw much he liked going into the final week of the regular season.
“That was a great Big Ten basketball game,” he said. “It’s March now. You get beat, you go home. This right here is why you work and sweat so much back in July. To get to this point makes it all worthwhile.”