The Illini scored just seven points over the final 10 and a half minutes of regulation. But once the game went to overtime, everything worked out for the orange and blue.
Behind a 28-point effort from Malcolm Hill, Illinois grabbed a 76-71 overtime win over Minnesota on Saturday in the Twin Cities.
It was a wacky game of runs, the Gophers ahead by nine seven and a half minutes into the first half. The Illini responded with six straight points to get within three, then came seven straight from the Gophers to make it a 10-point game. But Illinois rattled off a 13-0 run from there, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Jalen Coleman-Lands to turn a double-digit deficit into a three-point advantage. All told, it was a 21-6 run for the Illini to end the first half and head to the break with a five-point lead on Minnesota.
Down six in the early stages of the second half, the Gophers turned in a 13-4 run to gain a modest lead before Kendrick Nunn hit back-to-back triples to put the Illini back in front. Maverick Morgan and Hill each got a bucket in the following minutes to extend the lead out to seven with 10 and a half minutes to play, but that's when the Illinois offense stopped. Minnesota went on a 13-2 run, getting 11 of those points from Nate Mason, who hit three 3s during that stretch. Joey King's free throw made it a five-point Gopher lead before Nunn's 3-pointer brought the Illini within a bucket. Hill hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 60 with half a minute remaining, and Minnesota's final possession yielded a horrendous shot, leading to overtime. Illinois was lucky to make it to the extra period, going scoreless for a five-minute stretch in crunch time and scoring just seven points in the final 10 and a half minutes of regulation.
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But the overtime period did come, and the Illini dominated for the most part. Hill scored five quick points, and the Illini opened the period on an 11-0 run. It wasn't until there was a minute and a half left that the Gophers got on the board, and the Illinois lead grew as large as 13 before Minnesota whittled it down to five over the final minute.
The Illini shot 43.9 percent from the field, not an exciting number but one that certainly suffices when up against the Gophers, who are among the Big Ten's worst teams. Minnesota shot just 39.1 percent. While the Gophers made 11 3-pointers, the Illini held a large rebounding advantage, 49-38, turning 10 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. Illinois also scored 16 points off Minnesota's 13 turnovers, while the Gophers made just eight points out of the 14 Illini turnovers.
Hill's 28 points were a game high and the third-highest scoring output of the season for the Illinois junior. It was Hill's 10th game of the season with at least 20 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year. Morgan finished with 14 points and a season-high seven rebounds, while Nunn scored 13 points.
King led Minnesota with 20 points, and Mason had 19, both players hitting five 3-pointers apiece. Jordan Murphy scored 12 points.
The win sent the Illini to 10-10 on the season and 2-5 in Big Ten play. Next up is a Thursday game against Ohio State.
The Gophers dropped to 6-14 overall and 0-8 in conference play with the loss. Minnesota is one of two winless Big Ten teams, along with Rutgers. The Gophers are on a nine-game losing streak, losers of 12 of their last 13 games. Next up is a Wednesday game against Purdue.