Kendrick Nunn scores two of his 19 points on a dunk in the second half.
Feb. 19, 2014
|Illini Top Performers|
|Kendrick Nunn||19 pts, 1 assist, 1 steal|
|Nnanna Egwu||14 pts, 11 rebs, 4 blocks|
|Tracy Abrams||13 pts, 6 assists|
The Illini won for only the second time in their last 12 games thanks to good 3-point shooting and solid defense that helped them overcome a poor start. Nunn went 5-for-7 from 3-point range, and the Illini hit eight shots from behind the arc - their most so far in conference play.
Nunn has averaged more than 11 points per game since being inserted into the starting lineup against Penn State two weeks ago. He scored 19 in that game as well.
Nnanna Egwu recorded his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The junior center also tallied four blocks.
Tracy Abrams added 13 for Illinois (14-12, 3-10 Big Ten), which entered the game ranking next-to-last in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (.308).
Andre Hollins led Minnesota (17-9, 6-7) with 15 points, and Austin Hollins and Mo Walker each added 10. The Gophers have lost six of their last nine games.
The Gophers jumped out to a 14-3 lead before DeAndre Mathieu - Minnesota's leading scorer in its previous seven games - was forced to sit with two early fouls. With the Gophers' floor leader on the bench, the Illini steadily climbed their way back into the game by hitting six of their nine first-half 3-point attempts. Mathieu finished with three points.
Illinois outscored the Gophers 21-13 over the final 11 minutes of the first half. Abrams' three with 2:13 left in the half brought the Illini to 24-23.
Minnesota led 27-24 at halftime, but Illinois outscored Minnesota 22-8 to open the second half. Nunn had 10 points during that stretch, including back-to-back threes and a fast-break dunk that put Illinois ahead 46-35 with just under eight minutes to play.