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Cockburn’s historic night highlights blowout win over The Citadel

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s another W.

@IlliniMBB // Twitter

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The freshman finished the night with 18 points and an Illinois freshman record 17 rebounds.

Illinois’ third game at home might have left a lot to be desired, but Kofi Cockburn’s big game and the Illini’s defense carried the team to a 85-57 win over The Citadel Bulldogs at the State Farm Center on Wednesday night.

“Obviously, a record night for Kofi,” said head coach Brad Underwood “[I] think he’s continuing to progress. He’s starting to understand the ball doesn’t just come to you. You have to snatch at it and get it.”

Five games into the season and Illinois’ offense still hasn’t come out ready to play. Headlining the slow start was Ayo Dosunmu, who struggled to find his shot in the first half. Luckily for the Illini, they possessed a significant size advantage because the deep ball was not falling. Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili dominated the paint in the first half, scoring a combined 16 points and pulled 17 rebounds.

It was another exceptionally strong defensive half, though. Illinois’ defense led the way on a 17-3 run that spanned nearly nine minutes to give the Illini a double-digit lead. The Citadel was held to just 7-of-36 from the floor through the first 20 minutes thanks to a stout Illinois defense.

The Illini came out of the break with a much better sense of urgency. A Cockburn dunk extended it to a 20-point lead in the opening minutes of the second period, and Illinois wouldn’t look back from that point. Trent Frazier continued the excitement on the offensive end draining one of just three Illini three-pointers on the night and dumping it off to Cockburn on the block for a thunderous jam.

“I thought we got in a better rhythm,” Underwood said. “I thought we did a better job pitching the ball in tonight.”

Illinois kept its foot on the gas for the rest of the night pulling away from the Bulldogs, 85-57.

“All in all, I was pleased,” Underwood said. “Thought we had a few turnovers late, but took better care of the ball.”

Moments that Mattered

  • A case of the runs: Not only did The Citadel go on multiple five-minute plus scoring droughts, but the Illini used a 17-3 run in the first half and a 12-0 run in the second to put distance between them and the Bulldogs.
  • We told y’all no flopping: For the second time in as many games, Illinois’ opponent was assessed a technical foul for flopping, send the Illini to the line for a free throw and the ball.
  • He’s still just a freshman: Despite his team-high 18 points and 17 rebounds, Cockburn still has some learning to do. The Jamaican product checked in just a bit prematurely, prompting a technical foul from the officials towards the end of the second half.

Sound Smart

Tweet of the Game

Who’s Next

The Illini continue their home stand on Saturday night when they take on the Hampton Pirates (2-1) at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcasted on BTN+.