CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) -- Brad Underwood's message to the media after Illinois' closer-than-expected 75-71 win over cellar dweller Northwestern on Saturday afternoon: every win is hard in this league.
The Wildcats (6-11, 1-6) proved that theory with a game that went down to the final minute. With just over 30 seconds to play, Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu hit a jumper and then free throws that sealed the game for the Illini.
Illinois improved to 5-2 in the Big Ten and in doing so held on to second place in the standings behind Michigan State. Guard Trent Frazier reached 1,000 points for his career thanks to a team-high 16 point-outing, his most points against a Division-I opponent this season.
Northwestern shot 45 percent and showed that the Big Ten's tallest team is more than a statistic, staying competitive on the boards (30 to Illinois' 32) and keeping freshman big man Kofi Coburn in check with 12 points, 7 rebounds. Nevertheless, Illinois shot 50 percent from the floor and had five players reach double figures.
It was a star-studded afternoon in Champaign, with many former players coming back to campus for Alumni Day including Flyin' Illini star Kenny Battle. Coach Lou Henson was also in attendance, sitting courtside with his wife Mary.