staff, December 27, 2011

(AP) Brandon Paul scored a breakaway dunk that put Illinois ahead in double overtime Tuesday night and Meyers Leonard hit the layup that sealed the 81-72 victory over Minnesota. Paul swiped the ball from Ralph Sampson III for the dunk that gave the Illini (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) a three-point cushion at 73-70. Leonard's layup with 1:11 left made it 78-72 and finished the Golden Gophers (12-2, 0-1). Paul finished with 21 points. Leonard had 20 and a game-high 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and view our Big Ten scoreboard.

Also, watch Bruce Weber's pregame speech to his players in this post and don't forget about Meyers Leonard's big-time alley-oop.

Here's the aforementioned Weber speech:

Check out our half-by-half recaps, powered by Narrative Science:

FINAL: Meyers Leonard scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lift Illinois to an 81-72 in double-overtime win over Minnesota on Tuesday at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Brandon Paul's field goal with 1:23 remaining in overtime gave Illinois (12-2) the late lead. Both Leonard and Paul played well for the Fighting Illini. Leonard went 6-of-10 from the field. Paul had 21 points, pulled down six rebounds, and dished out six assists. Illinois trailed 68-67, but went on a 14-4 run over the next 1:18 to take a nine-point lead. Sam Maniscalco shot 4-of-7 from the field and scored 10 points for the Fighting Illini. Illinois shot 47 percent from the field (28-of-60). Ralph Sampson III contributed 22 points and yanked down 10 rebounds for Minnesota (12-2) in a losing effort. The Golden Gophers shot just 38 percent from the field (26-of-69). More Minnesota scoring came from Julian Welch, who scored 15. The Fighting Illini led 21-18 with 8:58 to go in the first half before they widened the margin to 13 points with a 16-6 run that ended with 18 seconds left in the first half. Paul capped the run off with a field goal that helped the Fighting Illini lead 37-27 at the half. The win for Illinois breaks Minnesota's six-game winning streak.

HALFTIME: Meyers Leonard scored 10 points for Illinois in the first half to carry the Fighting Illini to a 37-27 lead over Minnesota. Leonard and Brandon Paul are leading the way for Illinois. Leonard grabbed six rebounds and shot 3-of-3 from the field. Paul scored 10 points. The Fighting Illini led 9-4 when the Golden Gophers went on a 7-0 run to take a 11-9 lead. The long-distance game has been bottled up and Illinois might be better served by bringing the ball inside more as the Fighting Illini shot 67 percent (12-of-18) on two-point shots, but 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. Illinois' leading scorer, D.J. Richardson, has been shut down thus far. With two points, the junior will need a strong second half to get to his usual level of production (14.3 points per game). Seven Illinois players have scored. Minnesota distributed the ball with five assists on eight field goals in the first half. Rodney Williams is putting together a nice game so far for the Golden Gophers. The junior has eight points.

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