CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – Ayo Dosunmu produced 23 points, Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 20 points and Illinois used one of its best first halves this season to defeat Minnesota 95-68 on Wednesday night and end a five-game skid.
The Illini (5-12, 1-5 Big Ten) piled up 51 points in the opening 20 minutes – their second-best output thus far – on the back of hot shooting and a strong glass presence.
The Golden Gophers (13-4, 3-3) hadn’t permitted more than 44 points in a first period when they arrived at State Farm Center. They led for just 28 seconds versus Illinois.
The Illini’s second-leading scorer as a freshman, Dosunmu potted 15 points before halftime.
Fellow freshman Bezhanishvili tallied 14 points and five boards prior to reaching the locker room. Both marks exceeded his full-game averages. Backing the college newcomers were Trent Frazier with 15 points and Andres Feliz with 10 points as Illinois shot 56.1 percent from the field.
Minnesota, which lost for the second time in its last three bouts, received 17 points from Daniel Oturu and 11 points from Jordan Murphy.
Minnesota: The Gophers suffered their worst setback since falling by 30 points against Michigan State on Feb. 13, 2018 and continued to struggle away from home, slipping to 1-3 as true visitors.
Illinois: Under second-year coach Brad Underwood, Illinois earned its first conference victory since Feb. 25, 2018, and won for the first time since Dec. 15 versus East Tennessee State.
Minnesota hosts Penn State on Saturday night. The Gophers head back to Williams Arena in Minneapolis, where they are 8-1 on the year.
Illinois faces No. 23 Iowa on Sunday. The Illini seek their first Big Ten win streak since January 2018 when they head to Iowa City for a matinee versus the Hawkeyes, who edged out Penn State on Wednesday.
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