CINCINNATI — In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Bearcats allowed 23 points and trailed by 15 points, but the tenacious team pulled it together to win against Illinois 71-51.
Illinois is currently the 14th-ranked team in the country.
The win allows Cincinnati (5-0) to stay unbeaten — a marquee victory for first-year head coach Wes Miller.
Miller is now the only coach in Bearcats history to begin his career with five consecutive wins.
Cincinnati was led in scoring by Mike Saunders, Jr. with 20 points. He was 5-for-6 shooting.
Jeremiah Davenport shot 4-for-8 from three-point range and finished with 19 points.
The game was the first of two for Cincinnati in the Hall of Fame Classic, which is played in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Bearcats will play in the championship game of the classic on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. against the winner of Monday's Arkansas-Kansas State game.