News Local/State

Winthrop Defeats Illini Men’s Basketball 84-80 In Overtime

Michael Finke (43) arrives too late to block a three-pointer by Winthrop player Keon Johnson.

Michael Finke (43) arrives too late to block a three-pointer by winthrop's Keon Johnson Rob McColley / Illinois Public Media

The Winthrop Eagles erased a 10-point deficit in the last 2:43 of Monday night's NIT Season Tip-Off game against the Illini men in Champaign. Winthrop won in overtime 84-80.

Eagles Senior guard Keon Johnson connected on 15-of-21 shots from the floor for a game-high 38 points.

His coach Pat Kelsey wasn't surprised that Johnson led the comeback.

“That’s just who he is man”, said Kelsey. “He’s just a little warrior ---and fearless. I mean they list him at 5’ 7” --- the dude’s five-foot four. And he just plays with a chip on his shoulder.”

Michael Finke led Illinois with 18 points. Tracy Abrams added 17, plus 6 assists and 2 steals.

Abrams said Illinois' defense has been a concern all year.

“We’ve been talking about defense all season, after every game”, said Abrams. “It’s just something we’ve got to work at, keep getting better. Hopefully this game will help us understand the value of one possession, two possessions, blocking out --- just stuff like that. We’re still learning, we’re still young, it’s early in the season. But we definitely, definitely, got to do better."

It was an off-night for leading scorer Malcolm Hill, who missed all ten of his shots from two-point range, and committed seven turnovers. However, Hill converted 4-of-7 three pointers while grabbing 9 rebounds. He finished with 14 points.

Leron Black played his first game of the year for Illinois. Black pleaded guilty to pulling a knife on a bouncer at Urbana's Canopy Club last February. He had been suspended for the first four games of this season as a consequence.

Winthrop improves to 3-and-1 on the season. Illinois drops to 4-and-1. 

The Illini fly to New York Tuesday. They'll play their final two games of the NIT Season Tip-Off Thursday and Friday in Brooklyn ---- starting with West Virginia on Thursday.