Illinois 81, Gophers 72 (2OT) 28 Dec 11

Meyers Leonard scored 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and keyed a dominating effort as Illinois opened Big Ten play with an 81-72 double-overtime victory over Minnesota.

After making one of two free throws to open the second extra period, Brandon Paul came up with a steal and a dunk to put the Fighting Illini (12-2, 1-0) in front for good, 73-70, with 4:07 to go. Leonard later sealed it with a layup at the 1:11 mark that made it 78-72, and the Golden Gophers (12-2, 0-1) would not score again.

Minnesota, which rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half, had a 64-62 lead and an opportunity to ice it at the foul line at the end of regulation, but Julian Welch missed the front end of a one-and-one and Illinois pulled even on a pair of free throws by Leonard with 6.8 seconds left.

Paul was just 5-for-16 from the floor but finished with 21 points to lead five players in double figures for the Fighting Illini, who prevailed despite committing 21 turnovers. Ralph Sampson III paced all scorers with 22 points in defeat forMinnesota.