Bezhanishvili Sets Illini Freshman Scoring Record


Published on February 11 2019 5:57 am
Last Updated on February 11 2019 5:57 am

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Giorgi Bezhanishvili set the Illinois freshman single-game scoring record Saturday with 35 points to lead the Illini to a 99-94 overtime win over Rutgers at State Farm Center. Illinois won its third straight Big Ten game and moved to 4-1 in its last five games.

Bezhanishvili's free throw put Illinois up 93-92 in overtime, his jumper on the next possession made it 95-92 with two minutes left, and the Illini outscored the Scarlet Knights 4-2 from there.

Trent Frazier added 17 points and Ayo Dosunmu 12 for Illinois.Illinois was 36 of 73 from the field for 49-percent shooting, while Rutgers went 37-79 (51 percent).

Both teams kept pace in the first half, trading leads until Rutgers jumped ahead on a layup by Myles Johnson with 2:59 left before the break.

The Scarlet Knights led 45-42 at halftime.

Bezhanishvili broke Deon Thomas' freshman record of 34 points vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee set Dec. 3, 1990 behind a huge second-half effort. He scored 29 points after halftime on 12-of-13 shooting, 23 in the second half and six of Illinois' 13 overtime points.

It was the third consecutive win for Illinois (9-15, 5-8 Big Ten Conference), and the fourth in its last five games. The Illini beat No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday.

Caleb McConnell led the Scarlet Knights with 25 points. Montez Mathis scored 17 and Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker added 15 each. Eugene Omoruyi grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for Rutgers (11-12, 4-9).


• Illinois won three straight Big Ten games for the first time since its four-game conference winning streak from Feb. 18-March 1, 2017.
• Illinois is 4-1 in their last five games and 5-3 over the last eight.
• Illinois tied a season high with 99 points (99 vs. Evansville 11/8/2018).
• Illinois' 99 points were the most allowed by Rutgers since Illinois beat the Scarlet Knights 110-101 (3OT) 2/3/2016.
• Illinois is averaging 80.4 points over the last five games (402).
• Illinois' transition game has produced an average of 18.8 points over the last five games (94).


• Freshman forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili set the Illinois freshman scoring record with 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting. Bezhanishvili scored 29 points after halftime on 12-of-13 shooting.
• Bezhanishvili is averaging 19.0 points in home Big Ten games (6 G, 114 pts.).
• Bezhanishvili's 35 points were the most by an Illini since Malcolm Hill scored 40 points vs. Northern Kentucky 11/13/2016.
• Bezhanishvili has scored 20+ points four times, all against Power-5 opponents (Notre Dame, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Rutgers). The four 20+ point games is the sixth most by and Illinois freshman.
• Bezhanishvili was 7-for-8 shooting from the free throw line, a career-high for free throws made. Giorgi is 11-for-14 from the line in the last two games (78.6 percent) after going 1-8 (12.5 percent) in the previous two games.
• Sophomore guard Trent Frazier scored 17 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range. Frazier hit 5+ threes for the fifth time this season (6 vs. Gonzaga, ETSU and Missouri; 5 at Minnesota).
• Freshmen Ayo Dosunmu (15.2) and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (14.2) are currently 1-2 in scoring during Big Ten games for Illinois.

Austin Peay 94, EIU 86

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Eastern Illinois made several second half runs at an Austin Peay lead but in the end the Panthers came up short, 94-86, on the road Saturday afternoon at the Dunn Center.

EIU fell to 13-12 overall, 6-6 in the OVC.  APSU improved to 18-7 overall, 10-2 in the league.

Austin Peay came out red hot shooting the basketball with Zach Glotta knocking down his first three 3-point attempts.  The Governors led by ten points 36-26 with 7:47 to play in the first on a jumper by Chris Porter-Bunton.

EIU would go on a 10-0 run late in the first half with the Panthers taking a 41-40 lead with 1:51 remaining in the half on a dunk by Cam Burrell.

APSU would retake the lead and go into the locker room with a 44-43 advantage.  Shareef Smith had 13 first half points for the Panthers finishing the game with 29.  Glotta knocked down five 3-pointers in the first half and finished the game with 22 points for APSU.

Austin Peay would stretch the lead to 12 points twice during the second half.  Porter-Bunton made a pair of free throws at the 12:51 mark to make it 67-55.   EIU would answer with a short run that cut the lead to 67-62.

Three free throws by Glotta at the 9:25 mark again pushed the Governors lead out to 12 at 74-62 with 9:25 to play.

Shareef Smith continued his solid play for the Panthers in the second half draining a pair of 3-pointers that helped EIU close to within three points with 5:14 left in the game.

EIU made it a two-point game at 85-83 with 2:58 remaining on a jumper by Rade Kukobat.

Terry Taylor would knock down a pair of free throws on the next APSU possession to extend the lead back to four.  A Taylor bucket following an empty trip by EIU gave the Governors an 89-83 cushion.  Taylor finished with 25 points including 9-of-10 from the foul line.

For the game Austin Peay was 27-of-32 at the foul line including 22-of-26 in the second half.  Five APSU players would finish in double figures for the game.

EIU finished the game shooting 52 percent from the field including 11-of-25 from 3-point range.  Mack Smith had 14 points while Ben Harvey added 12 points with eight rebounds.

EIU Women 67, Austin Peay 57

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Eastern Illinois women's basketball beat Austin Peay 67-57 at the Dunn Center Saturday afternoon snapping a 28 game road loss streak. The last time the Panthers won on the road was at APSU in the 2017 season.  Four players scored double-figures for EIU in a shared effort to pick up their fourth conference win. The Panthers improve to 10-13 overall and 4-7 in the OVC, while the Govs fall to 11-12 overall and 6-6 in the conference.

APSU opened the game with four straight free throws to take a 4-0 lead over EIU early on. The Panthers went on a 6-0 run to take a two point lead out of the first quarter media time out. The Govs would tie the game 6-6 on a layup, but an 8-2 run to close the first ten minutes would give EIU a permanent lead over APSU.

The Panthers held the Govs to just 16 points in the first half, which is the second lowest point total in a half this season that EIU has held an opponent to. The Panthers led 28-16 heading into the break.

EIU saw the free throw line 16 times in the fourth quarter as APSU tried to chip away away at the Panthers lead. The Govs got within five of the Panthers, but the Panthers 11 of their 16 attempts in the final 10 minutes. Jalisha Smith went 5-for-7 at the line and carried EIU with 11 of her 13 points scored in the second half. Smith's 13 points is a season-high, and she also finished with six rebounds.

The Panthers shot 45.3 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from the arc. In addition to Smith's 13 points, Grace McRae tied her career-high with 16 points and she recorded a game-high eight rebounds. Grace Lennox and Abby Wahl each added 11 points for EIU. Lennox tallied four assists bringing her closer to that 500 assist career mark.

APSU shot 37.3 percent from the field and only 18.2 percent from the arc. Gabby Gregory led the Govs with 11 points off the bench knocking down 2-of-4 from three-point range. Arielle Gonzalez-Varner finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, while Keisha Gregory added 10 points, five rebounds, and six assists.

EIU will wrap up their three game road trip at SIUE Thursday Feb. 14. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm.

Murray State 86, SIUE 55

MURRAY. Ky. – Murray State used a dominant second half to score a come-from-behind 86-55 win over SIUE Saturday at the CFSB Center.

The Cougars led by as many as eight points in the first half and led by six at the break.

"It clearly was not a 40-minute effort," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "They came out and they set the tone in the second half."

Murray State improved to 19-4 overall and 10-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. SIUE fell to 8-16 overall and 4-8 in OVC play.

Murray State started fast, building a 20-8 lead but the Cougars' defense allowed them to take over the final minutes of the half. SIUE finished the first half on a 16-4 run as Murray State landed just one of its final nine field goal attempts in the first period. The Cougars led 38-32 at the break.

"We responded in the first half and we made them play a half-court game the last 15 (minutes) of the first half and that's why we went into the half with a lead," Harris said.

Murray State took over immediately in the second half. The Racers scored the first 17 points in the second half and never looked back.

SIUE missed seven of its first eight shots in the half, while the Racers opened the half nine of 15 from the field.

"In the second half, our transition defense never came along and then we didn't make any shots," Harris continued. "We have to find a way to be stronger and more consistent mentally. We broke because we started worrying about things we had no control over."

SIUE was just 5 for 23 from the field (21.7 percent) in the second half, including 1 for 10 from three-point range. For the game, the Cougars hit on just 34 percent of their shots. SIUE finished the game 14 for 14 from the free throw line. The Racers connected on 21 of 34 shots (61.8 percent) in the second period and 52 percent for the game.

David McFarland led SIUE with 14 points. Brandon Jackson was just shy of a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Ja Morant led Murray State with 20 points and six assists. K.J. Williams scored 16 points. Tevin Brown and Devin Gilmore scored 12 points each. Darnell Cowart added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The crowd of 8,007 was the largest the Cougars have played in front of all season.

"It's a hell of an environment, the best in the league by far," Harris said. "As a player, this is what you want."

SIUE returns home to face Eastern Illinois Thursday and UT Martin Saturday.

"We lost to both of those teams on the road and they are both playing really good basketball," Harris said. "We cannot allow ourselves to take being at home for granted."