CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois basketball season was full of ups and downs. We’re counting down the biggest moments of the season. Marlee Wierda finishes the countdown with numbers five through one.
5) Number five takes us all the way back to December, when the Illini beat No. 5 ranked Michigan at home, making it their first top five win since 2013. Kofi Cockburn became the first Illini freshman since 2010 to earn a double-double against a top 10 opponent.
4) And we go from the beginning of the season to the bitter end, for the regular season finale against the rival Hawkeyes. After losing to them earlier in season the Illini take down No. 18 Iowa at home. Kipper Nichols scores a season-high 10 points on his senior night. Cockburn earns a game-winning block against Luka Garza, making another top 25 win for the Illini, clinching a double-bye for the Big Ten tournament.
3) We leave Champaign for our top three moments, starting in Madison. Number three on our list is the first big ten road win of the season, where the Illini beat the Badgers at the Kohl Center for the first time since 2010. The Illini were the only team to beat Wisconsin on their home court this season. Ayo Dosunmu’s 18 point performance played a big in the snapping the 15-game losing streak against the Badgers, his 3 pointer with 45 seconds left sealed the deal in Madison.
2) That brings us to number two on our list, with another unforgettable Ayo Dosunmu moment. With the clock ticking down, the sophomore guard knocks down a shot at the buzzer to secure a win over the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, all while scoring a career high 27-points. This was their third straight conference road win, while rolling hot on a 6-game win streak. With the victory, the Illini take sole possession of the Big Ten.
1) And our number one moment of the season, is once again an Ayo moment. After missing a game due to injury he comes back to surprise Illini nation, scoring 24 points in an upset win against No. 9 Penn State. It marked another significant win for the Illini, the first time in more than a decade they beat a top-10 conference opponent on the road.
Plenty of shining moments were still in the cards for the Illini, as they prepared to dance for the first time since 2013, but with the Big Ten and the NCAA cancelling postseason play, our top 10 list gets cut off at the regular season. Here’s to next year, and many more moments to come