Dosunmu's debut lives up to hype, as Illini rout Evansville

Dosunmu's debut lives up to hype, as Illini rout Evansville

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois men's basketball wrapped up its 99-60 season-opening victory just before 9 p.m. Thursday at State Farm Center.

Media obligations for the Illini players were finished by just after 9:30.

Ayo Dosunmu's night wasn't over just yet, though. The freshman guard might have had 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals during his Illini debut in front of 11,755 fans, but he still felt like he had more work to do.

He sounded like a guy ready to take his coach's advice and head across Fourth Street from State Farm Center to Ubben Basketball Complex. More free throws were on his agenda after a late-game conservation with Illini coach Brad Underwood. Missing all three of the free throws he attempted against the Purple Aces bothered them both.

"He was saying I'm too good of a player to miss free throws," Dosunmu said about that conversation.

"He never misses free throws," Underwood added. "He just looked like he was rushing them and didn't look very comfortable up there. In all of our practices I think he's shooting over 90 percent at the line."

That was the only real blemish on Dosunmu's debut.

He torched Evansville in transition.

Bothered the Purple Aces defensively.

Even knocked down a pair of three-pointers.

"In the open court, Ayo's a ton," Underwood said. "He's got a variety of moves to go with his speed. As well as he played offensively, I thought het set the tone early defensively."

Evansville coach Walter McCarty, who starred at Kentucky before a 10-year NBA career, was fairly succinct in describing just what kind of player Dosunmu is.

"Kid can play," McCarty said. "He's got a bright future if he continues to work. I would sure love to have him."

Except Dosunmu chose the Illini.

"Finally getting out there and competing and having the jersey on for real, it was tremendous," he said. "I just wanted to come out and play hard. Coach Underwood got on me a lot and said my defense in the exhibition wasn't good enough. The only thing I could do was come out and perform."

And he did.