Giorgi Stare

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili stares down the court after recording two of his program-record 35 points by a freshman in a 99-94 overtime win over Rutgers on Saturday afternoon in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) -- Call it "The Giorgi Game".

Illinois freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili broke an Illinois freshman record with 35 points and the Illini (9-15, 5-8) edged Rutgers in overtime 99-94 on Saturday afternoon at the State Farm Center.


The win was Illinois' third in a row -- a significant step for a program that had the unusual distinction of having losing streaks of two, three, four, five (and "one") at various points this season.

Just 10 days ago, the Illini were 6-15 and coming off a double-digit loss to Minnesota. They appeared to be ticketed for the basement in the increasingly strong Big Ten, but now after a three-game win streak the squad finds itself in ninth place in a league that could potentially slot 10 in the NCAA Tournament. That's not a fate that awaits the Illini (barring a Cinderella run at the Big Ten Tournament), but it's a feather in the team's collective cap.

Joining Bezhanishvili at the top of the box score on Saturday was sophomore Trent Frazier, who posted 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Ayo Dosunmu added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, while Aaron Jordan contributed 10 points.

Up next for Illinois is a pair of road games at Ohio State and No. 19 Wisconsin before the Illini return to Champaign to host Penn State two Saturdays from now.