Illini survive Nicholls State upset bid in season opener

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Andres Feliz scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Illinois beat Nicholls State 78-70 in overtime on Tuesday in a season opener for both teams.

Ayo Dosunmu scored 21, Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 11 points, and freshman big man Kofi Cockburn had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Fighting Illini.

Nicholls State was led by Dexter McClanahan‘s game-high 25 points. Elvis Harvey Jr. added 16 points for the Colonels.

Illinois was up 30-19 at the half and led by 20 points early in the second half before going cold. Nicholls State went on an 8-0 run late in regulation to tie the game at 64-64 with 1:48 left. Meanwhile, the Illini went the final five minutes of regulation without a field goal.

Down 66-64 after Harvey’s two free throws with less than two minutes left, Trent Frazier scored his first points of the game, sinking two free throws to send the game to overtime.

Illinois finally warmed up in the extra frame, with Feliz hitting two field goals and two free throws to seal the victory.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois was expected to coast past Nicholls State, but poor shooting (27 of 61 from the field) and turnovers (Illinois had 23 to Nicholls State’s 16) made things a lot closer than they should have been. It could be rust or just opening night jitters, but coach Brad Underwood’s squad needs to get it together before starting a two-game road trip.

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