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Illinois Finding Ways To Win Without Star Player

Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu sat out of Thursday’s game due to an injury he sustained on Tuesday in the game against Michigan State.

Dosunmu is a star on the court, but his impact on paper helps him to shine even brighter.

The junior guard is the only player in the NCAA over the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists, and he lands a No. 4 spot in the KenPom.com Player of the Year rankings.

He has scored in double figures in 34 straight games, marking the longest active streak by a high-major conference player, and is No. 8 in the NCAA in scoring (21.7 ppg) and No. 5 in made field goals (151). He ranks No. 5 nationally in offensive rating (114.9), and No. 3 with 11 games of 22+ points, and No. 4 with four 30-plus point performances.

In conference play, the junior lands the No. 3 spot in Big Ten in assists (5.1 apg) and No. 16 in B1G in rebounding (6.4 rpg).

He set a career scoring high in Big Ten play with 31 points in the win at Nebraska on Feb. 12, and his third triple-double in school history with 21 points, career-high 12 rebounds, and career-high 12 assists in the win over No. 19 Wisconsin on Feb. 6.

After Dosunmu went out with a facial injury that was the result of an ejection-worthy blow Tuesday night, the team wasn’t able to bounce back and was defeated 81-72.

The News-Gazette reports Dosunmu spent the majority of Wednesday seeing multiple doctors after Illinois’ late return from Michigan, and that’s when the team received a definitive diagnosis they would be starting the Thursday game without their leading scorer.

After the game, Illinois senior guard Trent Frazier said the team went out and played for Dosunmu and the seniors.

“We had our guy down,” Frazier said. “We have multiple guys on this team that can go for a big night. We were not worried one bit. We all just stayed focused on Nebraska and didn’t get carried away with having our guy down.”

Dosunmu’s status is not known Illinois (17-6, 13-4 Big Ten) plays again at 1 p.m. Saturday at No. 23 Wisconsin.

There’s no guarantee Dosunmu will play against the Badgers, and Illinois coach Brad Underwood said his health comes first.

“We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize that young man’s career,” Underwood said. “He’s the National Player of the Year. We’ll do everything we can to expedite that process, but we will never jeopardize his health and well-being.”

Underwood did not detail Dosunmu’s exact injury — he said the injury topic was “sensitive” and involves the head or face.

Dosunmu did post a video to Twitter before Thursday’s game against the Cornhuskers (5-17, 1-14 Big Ten) that ended with him showing a hard plastic, protective face mask he might wind up wearing.

Dosunmu’s status remains unclear moving forward. Illinois (17-6, 13-4 Big Ten) plays again at 1 p.m. Saturday at No. 23 Wisconsin.

Written by Megan Turner

Meg is in her last semester at the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged.

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