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Illinois just showed us how deep it might be

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Everyone played in a role in the thumping of Mizzou.

Wednesday night marked the 51st running of the Braggin’ Rights game between Illinois and Missouri. The last time the Illini claimed the towering trophy was back in 2017, before loosing three straight to Mizzou.

Unlike last year’s matchup at Mizzou Arena, the game took place at its normal grounds of the Enterprise Center. The Illini claimed a 25-point victory over the Tigers, bringing the all-time record of the rivalry to 33-19 in favor of Illinois. After some shaky games early on this year, the Illini showed a glimpse of what this team may be capable of.

Add back in Andre Curbelo and this team still has a really good chance in the Big Ten and in March.

Benjamin Hochman

Game Notes:

Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams, Alfonso Plummer, Jacob Grandison, and Kofi Cockburn were the starters for Illinois. Coleman Hawkins was not in the starting lineup but still played 18 minutes in the contest.

The Illini were able to jump out to an early lead on the Mizzou and never lost it after that. Between Grandison (2), Plummer (1), and Frazier (1), the Illini hit 4 threes within the first five minutes of the first half. With Mizzou forced to focus so much on stopping the three ball, the lane opened wide up for Kofi to dominate in the post offensively. With the lead and a dominant start, Missouri ended up making a run to bring the game back within reach around the five-minute mark. The scoring drought would also end Plummer’s perfect free throw record at 35 straight. However, to close out the first half Frazier knocked down two deep threes to push the Illini lead to 14 at the break.

The second half was dominated by the Illini from start to finish. Frazier and Plummer got out to a hot start again from three for the Illini. Kofi had a couple of highlights dunks and notched himself a double-double with more than 10 minutes to go. Even the freshmen had some impressive plays in the second half. Brandin Podziemski had 7 points on perfect shooting along with 3 rebounds. RJ Melendez also impressed fans with a three-point play on a strong finish at the rim.

The Illini were within striking difference of the series’ largest margin of victory (32) for most of the second half before the final lead landed on 25. The majority of the game the Illini controlled the game on both ends of the floor, showing the nation just how scary this team could be come March.

Player of the Game: Kofi Cockburn

In reality there were multiple players I felt had really impressive performances, but this has to go to Kofi. A double-double machine, Cockburn notched his sixth straight double-double (25 points, 14 rebounds) and his 35th of his career.

Jeff Roberson

Plummer had 22 points and his eight straight with more than 19. Frazier had 15 points on 6 for 10 shooting. Grandison had six assist and 9 points on 3 of 5 from three. Six Illini knocked down at least one three on the night.