Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hill Tops 1,000 for Career as Illini Win in OT

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hill Tops 1,000 for Career as Illini Win in OT

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS * Illinois displayed the ingredients for success that have been missing so much this season, using grit, poise and resiliency to prevail in overtime.

Maybe Minnesota will do that someday, too.

Malcolm Hill had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead a late surge by the Fighting Illini for a 76-71 victory over the Golden Gophers on Saturday night to end an eight-game losing streak on the road.

"I loved the look in their eyes," coach John Groce said.

Maverick Morgan added 14 points, Kendrick Nunn scored 13 points and Michael Finke grabbed 16 rebounds for the Illini (10-10, 2-5 Big Ten), who used a 16-0 run over a 5:28 stretch that started in the closing minutes of regulation.

"We kept our composure and the belief that we could win the game," said Hill, a junior and former Belleville East star who passed 1,000 points for his Illini career.

The Gophers (6-14, 0-8) lost their ninth straight game, despite 20 points by Joey King and 19 points from Nate Mason.

"I think in overtime we just were a little shocked. I definitely thought we had it, but it was our first time playing with the lead in a while, and we made a few mistakes," said King, who kicked himself for not leading a regroup of his teammates for the 5-minute extra session.

King also took the blame for the last play in regulation, when Mason dribbled the clock down and stepped back for an NBA-range 3- pointer from the wing that bricked off the rim. King said he was supposed to start at the top of the key instead of the corner, which didn't give Mason enough space.

So, despite limiting the Illini to a mere seven points over the last 10-plus minutes of the second half, the Gophers headed to overtime. And the Illini took charge, delighting the members of the Orange Krush student section who took a road trip from Illinois.

"This was the most composed we've played as a team all year. We didn't let anything bother us," Finke said.

The last time Illinois won on the opponent's home floor was Feb. 7, 2015, at Michigan State.

Minnesota tied a program record with 36 attempts from 3-point range, making 11. King went 5 for 14, and Mason was 5 for 10. The Illini packed in their zone defense, and coach Richard Pitino was disappointed Mason and the other guards didn't try to attack it more with the ball. …

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