CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Ayo Dosunmu scored 18 points and Kofi Cockburn added 11 and grabbed 17 rebounds and Illinois held off Rutgers 54-51 at home on Saturday.
Dosunmu stepped up big in the final two minutes for Illinois (12-5, 4-2 Big Ten Conference). He scored four points (all at the free-throw line) to seal a defensive battle that saw Rutgers (12-4, 3-2) grab the lead early in the game.
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. Both teams played exceedingly well defensively.
Rutgers was 20 of 59 (34%) from the field to Illinois’ 18 of 63 (29%).
Cockburn, a 7-foot freshman, hit his seventh double-double of the season for the Illini,
Both teams shot poorly in the first half. Rutgers was 9 of 27 from the field (33%) while Illinois shot a paltry 6 of 31 (19%). Rutgers led 21-18 at the break. Cockburn had five points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
Rutgers played the brand of defense it’s known for this season, but couldn’t contain Dosunmu down the stretch,
Illinois, on the heels on a huge road win against Wisconsin on Wednesday, stepped up again against a tough conference foe. The Illini slipped into second place in the Big Ten, trailing only No 8 Michigan State, which sits at 13-3 and 5-0 in conference play. The Spartans play Purdue on the road Sunday.
Rutgers: Travels to Indiana on Wednesday, not an easy assignment since the Hoosiers are 10-1 at home this season.
Illinois: Hosts Northwestern next Saturday.