Ayo Dosunmu, No. 6 Illinois hit road vs. Nebraska
Ayo Dosunmu made history in Illinois' last game. The Fighting Illini have enjoyed extra time to digest Dosunmu's triple-double, but they'll be back in action Friday.
Illinois is scheduled to play three of its next four games on the road, beginning with a trip to Lincoln, Neb. to face the Cornhuskers.
The game on Friday was originally scheduled to be played on Jan. 13 but had to be postponed due to COVID-19 issues within Nebraska's program. The sixth-ranked Illini were supposed to face the Big Ten's first-place team, Michigan, on Thursday but the Wolverines have been on an extended coronavirus pause.
"I pray we're to the point where we don't have any more COVID interruptions," Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood said on his weekly radio show, while adding, "Expect the unexpected, plan nothing."
A triple-double wasn't part of the game plan against Wisconsin, but Dosunmu's feat was an added bonus on Saturday. The junior guard racked up 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the 75-60 triumph.
Dosunmu became the third player in Illinois history to record a triple-double, joining Mark Smith (1979) and Sergio McClain (2001). He was the first to do it against a ranked opponent.
Dosunmu has been stellar all season, averaging 21.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists while leading Illini to a 13-5 record (9-3 Big Ten).
"He made it look easy," Underwood said. "Usually, I'm pretty dialed in on the sideline. I knew he was scoring, but when Ayo rebounds and defends, the rest of the game comes very easy for him. When he's a big rebound guy, the offense just flows easy for him."
Coincidentally, Dosunmu didn't even lead the Illini in scoring or rebounding during their fourth consecutive victory. Seven-footer Kofi Cockburn was the biggest beneficiary of Dosunmu's assists, collecting 23 points along with 14 rebounds.
"(Dosunmu) just found the right people," Underwood said. "He could have easily had 14-15 assists. We missed some shots that we're normally going to make. ... It was just one of those rare moments."
The Cornhuskers (4-11, 0-8) have gone nearly two months without a victory. Their last win came on Dec. 17.
They've played three games since returning from their virus issues. Their biggest problem now is their offense.
Nebraska lost to Wisconsin 61-48 on Wednesday due to 36.7 percent shooting from the field and 17 turnovers.
"I think we had 10 assists at halftime and three in the second (half)," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "The movement just wasn't the same, and then we started trying to go on our own and driving into the pile again and turning the ball over. It's got to come to a point where it clicks."
In their previous two games, the Cornhuskers scored 56 points against Michigan State and 61 against Minnesota. They've wasted some solid defensive efforts in the process. Nebraska hasn't allowed any of its last three opponents to shoot better than 39 percent.
"The three games that we've played since the shutdown, I'm really happy with how hard we're going out and playing," Hoiberg said. "We're just not playing very smart right now."
This is the first of two meetings this month between the Illini and Nebraska. The rematch is scheduled for Feb. 24 on Illinois' home floor.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 11, 2021