Florida Atlantic upsets Illinois 73-71 in overtime
Madiaw Niang added 12 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for his first career double-double for Florida Atlantic (9-4).
Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois (4-9) with 21 points and Aaron Jordan scored 20.
“This was an exciting game for our young guys,” Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May said. “I felt like some of our guys grew up today.”
The Owls were 25 of 57 from the field (44 percent), compared to a 24-of-76 effort (32 percent) for Illinois.
Illinois led 26-21 at the half after a slow start for both teams. The Illini missed nineteen layups in the game, twelve coming in the second half.
“I actually felt pretty good at halftime,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “Then we come out, go four of seventeen from the field and miss twelve layups, nineteen overall. I have to give a ton of credit to FAU. They were better coached and better prepared than we were, and they just played harder.”
Dosunmu hit a long 3-pointer from the right wing in the final seconds of regulation to tie the game at 63 and send it to overtime.
“We’re good,” Dosunmu said. “We’re a tight-knit group, and we need to get better together.”
Dosunmu missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that bounced off the rim.
The Owls have proven themselves a tough opponent on the road, beating UCF 80-79 and then surprising Illinois on Saturday.
Asked what his team gets from a tough road win against a Big Ten team, May answered after thinking for a second. “Well, it gets us to nine wins,” he said, to laughter. “It also gives us a tremendous amount of confidence.”
DOWN GOES FRAZIER
Trent Frazier, the Illini’s leading scorer averaging 16.5 points per game coming into Saturday’s matchup, had a chance to win it in the waning seconds but missed two free throws with his team up 71-70.
“Illinois just didn’t play its best game,” May said. “We felt like getting into Trent’s face was key for us.”
Frazier only scored two points in the first half and ended the game with nine. He shot 2 of 9 from the field and was only 1 of 5 from the 3-point line. Many of those misses either missed completely or banged off the rim.
Frazier also had one assist and three turnovers.
“Trent passed up a lot of shots trying to be a good teammate,” Underwood said. “He’ll be fine.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Saturday was the first matchup between the two teams, and a must-win for sputtering Illinois, which plays No. 23 Indiana later this week.
Instead, it turned into a major showcase for Florida Atlantic.
“It puts a nice little spotlight on us and our players,” May said.
Florida Atlantic: The Owls travel to the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Thursday.
Illinois: The Illini play at No. 23 Indiana on Thursday.