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This Week in Illini Athletics: Jan. 17-23, 2022

It’s a big week for the Illini.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to “This Week in Illini Athletics,” a weekly review of the past week of Illini sports and a preview of the week to come.

MEN’S BASKETBALL (13-3 Overall, 6-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: The 25th-ranked Illini extended their winning streak to six with victories at Nebraska (81-71) on Tuesday and over Michigan (68-53) at home on Friday. After a rocky start in Lincoln on Tuesday, Trent Frazier put the team on his back in the second period, with 20 of his season-high 29 points coming in a 50-point outburst for Illinois in the second half. Even on an off night, Kofi Cockburn notched a double-double in the win with 16 points and 13 rebounds. On Friday against Michigan, it was Frazier giving Illinois a lift once again. The super senior scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, with a stretch of 11 straight late in the game all but sealing the victory for the Illini. And like Tuesday again, Cockburn put up a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

This Week: Illinois hosts #7 Purdue at 11 a.m. today for a blockbuster in its biggest game of the season yet. Then the Illini look to complete the season sweep of Maryland on the road on Friday night at 6.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (6-9 Overall, 1-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: Thursday’s game against Northwestern was postponed to February 21, so the Illini played just one game last week, a 90-72 loss at Penn State. Junior De’Myla Brown led Illinois with 19 points with sophomore Kendall Bostic chipping in 14 rebounds.

This Week: The Illini get to stay home this week with games against Purdue on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Nebraska on Sunday afternoon at 2.

WRESTLING (2-2 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: Matches against #16 Rutgers and #2 Iowa opened up Big Ten season for the 21st-ranked Illini, with the Illini dropping them both. At Rutgers on Friday, Illinois narrowly lost 21-13 to the Scarlet Knights, but freshman Lucas Byrd won a major decision in the 133 division. Byrd won again in Illinois’ 36-3 loss to Iowa in Champaign on Sunday, taking a 5-0 decision to move to 11-1 on the season.

This Week: Big Ten season continues for the Illini at #12 Purdue on Friday evening at 6.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING (5-2 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini dominated Iowa to a 204-87 victory on Saturday in their return to action, winning 11 of the 16 events. Senior Abby Cabush starred in the meet, winning all four of her events (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 400 freestyle relay) and setting a new personal best in the 100 butterfly (56.44).

This Week: Illinois hosts Nebraska for a dual meet on Saturday at 11 a.m.

MEN’S GYMNASTICS (0-0 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: Illinois placed third out of seven at the season-opening Windy City Invitational in Chicago on Saturday. Sophomore Logan Myers (vault, 14.200), junior Dylan Kolak (vault, 14.200), and senior Clay Mason Stephens (high bar, 13.650) all set career-highs at the meet.

This Week: The Illini get a week off before Big Ten season begins at Penn State on January 29.

WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS (1-0 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini withdrew from their scheduled (January 16) meet at Kent State, with the competition unlikely to be rescheduled.

This Week: Big Ten play begins on Friday, with the Illini traveling to Nebraska for a 6 p.m. matchup.

MEN’S TENNIS (0-2 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: The 23rd-ranked Illini men began their spring season this weekend at the Georgia Tech MLK Invitational, dropping their first two matches to #14 North Carolina and Georgia Tech. Both matches were close, with Illinois losing 4-3 in each. On Saturday against North Carolina, the Illini split the six singles matches, but the Tar Heels swept the doubles point to win the match. Playing the hosting Georgia Tech yesterday, Illinois won two of the three doubles games to take the doubles point, but they fell just short in singles, winning just two of the six singles matches. Sophomore Lucas Horve is undefeated on the weekend so far.

This Week: Illinois finishes up the Georgia Tech MLK Invitational today with a match against Columbia. The Illini then return to Urbana for their home opener on Saturday with two matches, playing #6 Ohio State at noon and Chicago State at 5 p.m.

WOMEN’S TENNIS (0-1 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: Illinois traveled to Las Vegas this weekend to open its season at the Bella the Ball Invitational. In the Illini’s opener, freshman Kida Ferrari captured her first collegiate win in Illinois’ 6-1 loss to #11 Baylor.

This Week: The Illini have one more match in Las Vegas against BYU tomorrow before returning home for three matches in their home opening weekend. First, Illinois hosts Harvard at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Then on Sunday, a pair of in-state opponents come to Urbana, with Illinois taking on Eastern Illinois at 10 a.m. and Northern Illinois at 1 p.m.

MEN’S and WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD

Last Week: Both Illini track teams opened their seasons at the Wisconsin Midwest Invitational in Chicago on Saturday. Illinois had four event champions on the men’s side: Jack Roberts (1 mile, 4:11.38), William Merrick (600 meters, 1:20.35), Bret Dannis (60 meter hurdles, 7.99), and the 4 x 400 relay team of Robert Williams, DeVontae Ford, Jason Thormo, and Kashief King (3.13.61). On the women’s side, three Illini came away with event titles: Tacoria Humphrey (high jump, 1.71 meters), Emma Milburn (1 mile, 4:50.27), and Olivia Howell (800 meters, 2:09.63).

This Week: Illinois hosts the Illini Invitational at the UI Armory on Friday and Saturday.