Nick Smith scored 13 points for the Fighting Illini (15-5, 6-3
Big Ten), who won for the fifth time in six games despite trailing
by as many as 15 points in the first half.
Kris Humphries had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota
(8-13, 0-9), which has lost its first nine conference games for the
first time in over 70 years.
The Gophers lost their first 11 conference games in 1922-23 and
their first nine in 1926-27 and 1932-33. Overall, Minnesota has
lost eight straight, its longest losing streak since dropping the
last 16 games in 1986-87.
Trailing 44-43, Illinois used seven quick points from Williams
and a 16-10 run to retake the lead and take control of the game.
Michael Bauer hit a shot for Minnesota to cut the deficit to
59-56 with 12:44 left, but the Gophers then went cold for the next
The Illini were more aggressive on defense in the second half,
forcing eight turnovers and converting them into fastbreak baskets.
Brown made two straight layups along the baseline, including a
three-point play, to make it 66-57 Illinois with 8:26 left. The
Gophers could not get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Stan Gaines scored half of Minnesota's first 22 points as the
Gophers hit their first seven shots, including five three-pointers.
His three-pointer at the 15:22 mark capped a 14-0 run and gave the
Gophers a 22-7 lead.
But, the high-scoring Illini put together a 13-0 run of their
own to take a 32-30 lead with 7:29 left. Brown hit two
three-pointers during the stretch.
Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the half,
as Minnesota went into the break ahead 44-43.
Gaines, a Chicago native, finished the game with 12 points but
was held scoreless in the second half.
Aaron Robinson, also from Illinois, scored 10 points in just his
second start of the year for Minnesota. But he walked off the court
late in the game with what appeared to be a leg injury.
Illinois has beaten Minnesota 11 straight times.