The Wildcats tipped off conference play with an intense battle against their in-state rival, and came out on top with a 72-68 overtime win. The ‘Cats improved to 5-3, while Illinois fell to 6-2.
What started out as a sloppy game full of fouls and turnovers (26 and 20, respectively, in the first half) turned into a heated back-and-forth thriller in overtime.
Dererk Pardon swatted away a Te’Jon Lucas layup attempt with three seconds left, and Isiah Brown knocked down a pair of free throws to ice the game in overtime.
Both teams had multiple chances to take a lead at the end of regulation, but combined to turn the ball over seven times in the final 2:47 of the second half. The score held at 63-63 for that entire stretch.
Scottie Lindsey knocked down a three a minute into overtime, and Illinois was never able to regain the lead. Lindsey led all scorers with 22 points on 6-17 shooting–a solid bounce-back game after an 0-8 performance at Georgia Tech.
Vic Law had 16 points before fouling out in overtime, and grabbed 7 boards to lead the team. Bryant McIntosh dished out six assists and added 14 points. The Wildcats got the three-ball going as well, knocking down eight threes as a team shooting 34.8 percent.
For Illinois Leron Black led the team with 15 points on 5-11 shooting, and Te’Jon Lucas and Mark Alstork added 14 points each. The team struggled from deep, shooting 16.7 percent from behind the arc.
The ‘Cats head to West Lafayette to take on Purdue on Sunday in their next Big Ten game.