Bezhanishvili scores 35, Illinois beats Rutgers 99-94 in OT
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) _ Giorgi Bezhanishvili scored a career-high 35 points to lead Illinois to a 99-94 overtime win over Rutgers on Saturday.
It was the third consecutive win for Illinois (9-15, 5-8 Big Ten Conference), and the fourth in its last five games. The Illini beat No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday.
Bezhanishvili’s free throw put Illinois up 93-92 in overtime, his jumper on the next possession made it 95-92 with two minutes left, and the Illini outscored the Scarlet Knights 4-2 from there.
Trent Frazier added 17 points and Ayo Dosunmu 12 for Illinois.
Caleb McConnell led the Scarlet Knights with 25 points. Montez Mathis scored 17 and Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker added 15 each. Eugene Omoruyi grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for Rutgers (11-12, 4-9).
Illinois was 36 of 73 from the field for 49-percent shooting, while Rutgers went 37-79 (51 percent).
Both teams kept pace in the first half, trading leads until Rutgers jumped ahead on a layup by Myles Johnson with 2:59 left before the break.
The Scarlet Knights led 45-42 at halftie.
Illinois and Rutgers came into Saturday’s game tied for 10th place in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights were coming off losses to Ohio State and Michigan. The Scarlet Knights have played three of their last four games on the road and were seeking to earn two conference roads wins for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 2014.
The Illini were fresh off a 79-74 home win over No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday, which saw Illinois force 24 Spartan turnovers. It was Illinois’ second Top 25 win after beating No. 13 Maryland on the road. Illinois ranks second nationally in strength of schedule, according to KenPom.
Rutgers travels to Northwestern on Wednesday.
Illinois plays at Ohio State on Thursday.