Kofi Cockburn put Illinois ahead to stay with a pair of free throws in overtime and the No. 3 Illini defeated No. 9 Ohio State 91-88 on Sunday in the championship game of the Big Ten tournament at Indianapolis.
Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu and Andre Curbelo each had 16 points for the Illini (23-6), who have won seven straight and 14 of 15 in winning their first tournament title since 2005. The victory clinched a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for Illinois.
Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State (21-9) with a tournament-record 32 points. Justice Sueing had 22 and CJ Walker had 16 points.
Ohio State overcame a 17-point deficit in the first half and led 81-80 with 2:50 remaining in overtime on Washington’s layup to break the previous record of 31 points in a Big Ten tournament game by Ohio State’s Evan Turner against Minnesota in 2010.
Cockburn then made two free throws to put the Illini ahead 82-81 with 1:39 remaining.
After an Ohio State turnover, Curbelo made a jumper to put the Illini up 84-81 with 50 seconds left. He hit two free throws 17 seconds later to push the lead to 86-81. Cockburn added one more from the line with 26 seconds left.
Seth Towns made a 3-pointer for the Buckeyes before Dosunmu’s two free throws with 15 seconds remaining made it 89-84 to foil the Ohio State comeback.
Ohio State trailed 40-35 at the half but it was knotted at 67-all when Trent Frazier drove for a layup then followed on the next possession with a trey for a 72-67 advantage for Illinois with 3:31 remaining.
The Buckeyes tied it again at 77 with 23 seconds left on a three-point play by Sueing.
Illinois had two chances to win it in regulation. Dosunmu missed a 3-pointer and E.J. Liddell blocked the rebound try by Cockburn at the buzzer.
Ohio State also went to overtime in the quarterfinals, defeating No. 20 Purdue 87-78 after blowing an 18-point halftime lead.
The Buckeyes played their second straight game without starting senior forward Kyle Young, who sustained a concussion in the win against Purdue on Friday.
— Field Level Media