Michigan St Illinois Basketball

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, left, and guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) are swarmed by fans after the team's upset of No. 9 Michigan State in February.

CHAMPAIGN — Last Tuesday, University of Illinois freshman Ayo Dosunmu was the catalyst to defeating No. 9 Michigan State, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in a 30-second span late in the game. On Saturday, freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili scored 35 points to set the Illinois freshman scoring record and lead the Illini past Rutgers in overtime.

On Monday, Bezhanishvili was named the Big Ten Conference men's basketball Player of the Week and Dosunmu was selected as Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

The sweep of the weekly awards was the first by a pair of freshmen on the same team in Big Ten men's basketball history and the first time Illinois has won both awards.

Bezhanishvili averaged 25.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 69.0 percent from the floor in the Illini's 2-0 week. He broke Illinois’ 29-year old freshman scoring record (previously held by Deon Thomas with 34 on Dec. 3, 1990) with his effort against Rutgers.

His 35 points were the most by an Illinois player since Malcolm Hill scored 40 on Nov. 13, 2016. Bezhanishvili made 14 of 18 from the floor for the most made field goals in a game by an Illini player since Thomas had 16 in a 1991 contest. Bezhanishvili scored 29 points in the second half and overtime.

Hill was the last Illinois player to win the award, which he won on Nov. 14, 2016.

Dosunmu averaged 18.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the two Illinois wins. He scored a game-high 24 points against Michigan State and was 8-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point land.

He had 12 points with six assists, five rebounds and two steals Saturday against Rutgers. It's his first Big Ten Freshman of the Week award.

Illinois (9-15, 5-8) returns to action at 6 p.m. Thursday with a Big Ten game at Ohio State (16-7, 6-6).


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