The Illini dominated the first half and led by 16 points 37-21 at intermission. But they cooled off in the second half and wound up trailing by five points.
But with seven minutes to go the Illini went on a 9-0 run to regain the lead. That run included back-to-back three-pointers by D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul. Paul scored 17 points. Richardson added 14. Tracy Abrams had 13 points.
The Illini shot only 30.8% from the field for the game.
They'll next face Miami on Sunday in Austin. Miami rolled Pacific 78-49 Friday.