Illini top Hoosiers for overtime win in Big Ten opener

Illini top Hoosiers for overtime win in Big Ten opener
December 31, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois sank five key free throws late to knock off Indiana in overtime, 83-80, Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Illinois center Nnanna Egwu sank two free throws with 22 seconds left in overtime to give the Illini (12-2) an 80-77 lead. Thirteen seconds later Tracy Abrams sank another, and Rayvonte Rice closed it with two free throws with two seconds left.

Rice led Illinois with a game-high 29 points and eight rebounds. Abrams had 17 points.

Indiana (10-4) was led by Yogi Ferrell's 30 points.

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The Hoosiers led, 67-63, with just under five minutes to play but had to come from behind on a pair of Ferrell free throws in the final minute to force overtime with the score tied, 71-71.

Hoosiers freshman Noah Vonleh finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. But he fouled out with two seconds left in overtime.

The final half-minute of overtime was a wild scramble.

Jon Ekey stole a pass from Vonleh in the Indiana lane with 25 seconds to play and Illinois up, 78-75. But Rice missed the free throws that resulted from the possession.

Rice fouled Will Sheehey at the other end, Sheehey sank both shots and Indiana was right back in it, 78-77, with 22 seconds to play.

But on the next possession Troy Williams fouled Egwu, sending the 6-foot-11 center to the line.

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Egwu had been cold most of the afternoon from anywhere on the court. That included a series of misses on long jumpers. He finished the game 3-of-11 from the field, including 0-of-5 on 3-point shots.

But he sank the two free throws and gave the Illini a tiny bit of breathing room they made stick.

Illinois never trailed in the overtime and held the Hoosiers to a single field goal, a 3-pointer by Ferrell with four seconds to play that pulled them to within a point, 81-80.

But, forced to foul, Indiana had to hope the Illini would go cold.

Rice drew the foul, hit his final free throws and sealed the win.