State College, PA – In a Big Ten showdown between the #9 Penn State Nittany Lions and the visiting Illinois Fighting Illini, the return of sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu proved to be critical in the upset. Illinois had lost 4 of their previous 5 games before they pulled off the upset of Lamar Stevens and company, who were on an 8 game winning streak themselves. The aforementioned Dosumnu led the Illini in scoring, chipping in 24 after missing their previous game against Rutgers.
Coach Brad Underwood was asked about the quick turnaround in Dosunmo’s recovery. “It’s on Ayo [Dosunmu] and his mental approach,” Underwood said. “Most guys could have used this as a built-in excuse, but he is about winning, you see that Mamba-Mentality that he has. He worked his tail off because he wants to be out there, he’s an unbelievable teammate. He knows we’ve struggled without him. My hat is off to him.”
Neither team shot the ball efficiently, especially behind the arc, with Illinois shooting 3 for 10 (30%) and Penn State 4 for 19 (21%). Other impactful contributors were Kofi Cockburn who had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and a block and for the losing side was star Lamar Stevens who had 13 but only shot 3/11 from the field.
The win places Illinois now in 5th place in the Big Ten standings, at 9-6. They are tied on record with Iowa, Rutgers, and Michigan State. Penn State falls to 10-5 in conference play, still only behind Maryland at 11-3. Penn State will travel to Assembly Hall to square off against the Indiana Hoosiers, while Illinois will return home to Champaign to face Nebraska.
Bracketology Effect: Making the Madness’ own Jonathon Warriner has the Illini moving from an 8 in the South to a 7 seed in the East, and the Nittany Lions falling from the 3 seed in the Midwest to the 4 seed in the West.
Betting Effects: Covered: Illinois +5.5, Under 142.5