No Ayo, no problem as Illini break long spell without a winning streak

No Ayo, no problem as Illini break long spell without a winning streak

CHAMPAIGN — Jan. 30 was the last time Illinois men's basketball knew what it felt like to be on a winning streak.

Nineteen games have come and gone since home triumphs over Indiana and Rutgers.

Nineteen games. Fourteen losses.

It's all in the past now.

Trent Frazier potted 25 points on the back of six three-pointers Saturday as Illinois overcame the absences of two athletes during a 73-55 victory over East Tennessee State.

"It's huge for us," said Frazier, who also dished out five assists. "The main thing for us is we were just trying to get over that hump. Momentum — right now, we have that."

The Illini (4-7) received a boost before even hitting the State Farm Center floor. The Buccaneers (8-4) didn't arrive in Champaign until after 3 a.m., the result of a myriad of travel issues.

That jolt was taken away with the benching of Ayo Dosunmu and Alan Griffin for being "late," as Illinois boss Brad Underwood termed it.

Even so, the Illini held the Bucs without a field goal for a stretch of 12 minutes, 4 seconds in the opening period to build a 43-18 halftime advantage Illinois would never relinquish.

"There's no doubt the first half was the best we've played from an execution standpoint," Underwood said. "All in all, very, very pleased."

Kipper Nichols finished a rebound short of a double-double at 14 points, Giorgi Bezhanishvili contributed 15 points and Aaron Jordan hauled in 10 boards in a stifling of the nation's seventh-ranked rebounding club entering the day.

A convincing win despite a shortened bench? Great.

Add in the rarity of consecutive successes, and that's cause for celebration.

"There's a lot of positives, we feel like, coming out of that," Underwood said. "We were dialed in."