Despite suffering a 22-2 run and squandering a 16 point halftime lead, the No. 7 Fighting Illini held on for a 57-49 win over the Colorado Buffaloes.
Live by the three and die by the three has been the Illini’s moniker all season long and never was it more apparent than in this contest.
Illinois climbed out to a 37-21 halftime lead after shooting 6-16 from behind the arc in the first half. Senior D.J. Richardson hit three first half three pointers and finished with 11 in the first half and 14 in the contest.
The Illini held Colorado scoreless for the last seven minutes of the half as the Buffaloes missed on their last 11 shots. Colorado leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie scored 3 points and was held without a field go in the first half. He finished with 6 points on 1-8 shooting in the contest.
Buffalo coach Tad Boyle must’ve had quite the halftime speech as Colorado sprinted out on a 22-2 run holding Illinois scoreless for 11 minutes and 29 seconds. Sophomore guard Askia Booker scored 9 second half points on 3 three pointers. He finished with a team-high 14 points.
Illini sophomore guard Tracey Abrams finally broke the Illinois cold streak with a lay-up, making it a 44-41 Colorado lead with 8:33 remaining. Illinois missed their first 14 field goals in the half.
The Illini’s spark plug senior Brandon Paul finally gained some momentum after following a Richardson three pointer with a three of his own as Illinois went on a 9-0 run to give them a 48-44 lead with 5:58 left.
In a game of droughts and scoring runs, the Buffaloes went on yet another drought as they were held scoreless for five minutes and 23 seconds as the Illini finished the game on an 18-5 run.
Illinois moves on to play No. 2 Miami on Sunday.