Illinois built a big advantage lead with a 21-4 first-half run but the Buffaloes answered in the second half with 21 straight points to take the lead. However, the Illini came back with a 9-0 spurt that put them ahead for good.
The win advanced Illinois (23-11) into a third-round game Sunday and East Region No. 2-seed Miami (Fla.), which rolled to a 78-49 win over Pacific earlier Friday. Colorado ends the season 21-12.
Illinois' first-half run covered the last 10 minutes of the first half. Colorado's 21-0 comeback took up 10 minutes of the second and left the Buffaloes ahead 44-39.
Illinois rallied back with nine straight points in which Tracy Abrams made a short shot and assisted on 3-point shots from D.J. Richardson and Paul. Colorado had just five points over the last 9:30. Paul had seven free throws for Illinois in that period in sealing the win.
Paul was 9-of-10 shooting free throws while Richardson finished with 14 points and Abrams 13. Askia Booker, with 14 points, was the only Colorado player in double figures.