As the clock wound down on a frigid Tuesday night in Champaign and Northwestern's Chase Audige brought the game to within two points, Illini basketball fans everywhere screamed at their TVs to get the ball to one player: Ayo Dosunmu.
The star junior guard then knocked down two three-pointers in the final possessions of the game, one of which was the final nail in the coffin of Northwestern's hopes for a victory:
Dosunmu scored just five points in the first 35 minutes of the game, which was possibly his worst performance of the season. Such a showing could have pulled Ayo out of the Naismith and Wooden Award conversations. Instead, he made three clutch buckets in the final five minutes to help Illinois pull away against their in-state rivals. It also landed him in the opening segment of SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.
Dosunmu has earned himself the nickname "The Closer" for his elite ability to lock down wins for the Fighting Illini. Not only that, he is averaging 21.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.1 APG, which exemplifies the completeness of his game.
The matchup prior to Tuesday's contest with Northwestern helped cement Dosunmu's place as one of the best Illinois basketball players ever. He scored the final ten points for the Illini in regulation and the first five in overtime against Nebraska to help the Illini pull away with the victory.
This is not Ayo's first rodeo in the national spotlight with game-winners, however. Last season, he ripped the hearts out of Wisconsin and Michigan fans as well:
Dosunmu is one of the most clutch athletes to step onto the college basketball scene. Seemingly every game there is a new story about his uncanny ability to knock down shots under pressure. Illini fans are witnessing greatness, and Ayo has the chance to add the final feather in his cap to an already phenomenal college basketball career: a national championship. He can overcome what the likes of Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Brandon Paul, Deon Thomas, Nick Anderson, and Cory Bradford could not do while donning the orange and blue. He could help Illinois basketball cut down the nets on Monday, April 5th, 2021.