Ayo Dosunmu hit two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to lift No. 8 Illinois past visiting Ohio 77-75 on Friday in the State Farm Center at Champaign, Ill.
Dosunmu finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for Illinois (3-0), which fought tooth-and-nail throughout with upset-minded Ohio (2-1).
Jason Preston was sensational for the Bobcats, as he finished with a game-high 31 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Preston scored on a spinning, right-handed floater in the lane with 7.7 seconds left to give Ohio a 75-74 lead.
Dosunmu got the Illini back on top. Taking the inbounds pass, Dosunmu scooted up the right side of the floor and got all the way to the rim before he was fouled. He then made both free throws to move Illinois back in front 76-75
Ohio never got a shot for a buzzer-beater. After Illinois used a foul, the Bobcats' sideline inbounds pass was picked off by Trent Frazier. Frazier was fouled, and hit a free throw with less than a second left to account for the final score.
Kofi Cockburn added 13 points and 14 rebounds for Illinois, and Da'Monte Williams also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Freshman guard Adam Miller chipped in 11 points for the Illini, who owned a huge 45-25 edge on the glass.
Ben Vander Plas backed up Preston with 20 points, and Dwight Wilson III chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds for Ohio.
Ohio led 49-41 with 13:47 remaining after Ben Roderick bagged a corner 3-pointer to finish off a 9-2 spurt for the Bobcats. But Illinois answered quickly, and eventually took its largest second-half lead at 58-53 with just over eight minutes remaining thanks to seven straight points from Cockburn.
It was tight until the end, with four ties and five lead changes over the final five minutes. Neither team held a double-digit lead the entire game.
Preston kept Ohio in contention, and with the lead most of the way, during a terrific first half. He scored 20 points in the first 20 minutes on 8-of-14 shooting and had six points during a 10-0 run that wiped out Illinois' 30-21 lead.
But Dosunmu, who had 16 points of his own in the first half, hit a free throw with seven seconds left to give the Illini a 35-34 advantage at the break.
--Field Level Media