STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Ayo Dosunmu scored 24 points and Illinois snapped a four-game losing streak with a 62-56 victory over No. 9 Penn State on Tuesday night.
Kofi Cockburn added 14 points for the Fighting Illini (17-9, 9-6 Big Ten), who led most of the way and ended Penn State’s eight-game winning streak.
The win also snapped Illinois’ six-game losing streak against Penn State.
Lamar Stevens scored 13 points for the Nittany Lions (20-6, 10-5), who entered with their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 since they were No. 9 at the same point of the 1996 season.
Izaiah Brockington added 10 points for the Nittany Lions, who trailed 30-26 at halftime and by as many as nine points with 5:35 to play.
Penn State got a pair of free throws from Seth Lundy that cut its deficit to 58-56 with a minute left, but Dosunmu iced it with a layup 30 seconds later.
It was back-and-forth early as teams swapped the lead five times in the first. The Illini controlled play for 9:06 and Griffin gave them their biggest lead of the half when he hit a 3-pointer, drew a foul and hit the ensuing free throw to put the Illini up 21-16 with 8:54 before halftime.
Penn State used an 8-1 run, capped by a steal and dunk by Lundy, to retake the lead 4:22 later.
But Illinois got eight straight points from Dosunmu before a put-back by Giorgi Bezhanishvili to go up 30-26 at the break.
THE BIG PICTURE
Illinois: The Illini needed a win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, and getting Dosunmu back certainly helped. The sophomore guard had missed Saturday’s loss at Rutgers after suffering an injury to his left knee is a win over Michigan State on Feb. 11. Despite their recent shooting woes, they looked confident against a strong Penn State defense that’s been nearly flawless at home.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions entered the evening a game behind Maryland in the hunt for the Big Ten’s top seed. There’s still plenty of time for them to recover and make up ground.
Illinois: Hosts Nebraska on Monday.
Penn State: Visits Indiana on Sunday.