Has there ever been an Illinois basketball season with so many game-winning shots? Thursday’s dagger by Brandon Paul was the fourth of its kind this season. The previous three:
Illinois 78, Hawaii 77
D.J. Richardson drained a three-pointer at the overtime buzzer, capping a comeback from a 16-point second-half deficit in a game that finished at 2 a.m. C-U time.
“That’s how Coach set it up,” Richardson said. “Tracy found me in the corner and I knocked down the shot.”
Illinois 63, Gardner-Webb 62
Tyler Griffey drained an NBA-range three-pointer with 4.4 seconds remaining to throw 12,565 fans into a frenzy at the Assembly Hall as the Illini (7-0) stayed perfect.
“Brandon (Paul) made a great read, great pass. I knew it was good as soon as I let it go.”
Illinois 74, Indiana 72
In perhaps the greatest inbounds play in school history, Griffey snuck behind the top-ranked Hoosiers with 0.9 second remaining for a wide-open layup at the buzzer, luring hundreds of fans onto the court in a wild celebration.
“I was happy for the seniors,” John Groce said. “Some of the things that were going through my mind, to be honest with you, are kind of personal in nature. One of them, for sure, was the fact that I was really happy for those guys.”