Illinois Beats Minnesota, 51-49
By Rob McColley, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
Illinois beat Minnesota in the opening game of the Big Ten basketball tournament at Chicago's United Center with a score of 51-49.
Brandon Paul scored 25 points and hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to lead Illinois to a victory over Minnesota in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.
Paul said he felt calm in the moment of truth.
"In those situations, you just got to see what the defense gives you," he said. "I've been in those situations before, where the defense flooded to me, and I hit Tyler (Griffey) for the open jumper to win the game,. and stuff like that. So basically just letting it come out. And the buzzer ran down, and I saw I had some space, so I let the shot go."
Illinois (22-11) led by as much as 12 but was trailing by three when D.J. Richardson nailed a 3 with 47 seconds left to tie it at 49. That basket came after the Illini missed four shots on the possession.
The Illini scored the last five points of the game, starting with a three-pointer by Richardson.
The Gophers (20-12) had a chance to win it, but Austin Hollins stepped on the sideline after catching an inbounds pass with 14 seconds left.
Paul then raced up the court and pulled up for the winner as time expired, sending the eighth-seeded Illini to the quarterfinals against top-seeded and third-ranked Indiana.