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Illinois lights up Maryland in second half on Ayo Night

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Trent and Kofi showed off for their former superstar teammate.

Evan McClintock

“Life is good,” said Ayo Dosunmu on the ESPN2 broadcast Thursday night.

Most Illinois fans would probably agree.

On a night where the program honored its legend’s cold, killer mentality, Illinois (11-3, 4-0) remained perfect in Big Ten play with a 76-64 win over Maryland (8-6, 0-3) at the State Farm Center.

During halftime, the Illini raised a banner honoring the former superstar guard, with a video featuring players past and present celebrating Dosunmu.

Before halftime, Illinois struggled a bit, with center Kofi Cockburn — who spent two seasons with Dosunmu in Orange and Blue — on the bench for long stretches with two fouls.

Despite a quick start from the Illini, the new No. 11 — Alfonso Plummer — couldn’t get many shots to go down, making only one bucket in the opening frame. And while Coleman Hawkins, a player many think could also be in the NBA one day alongside Dosunmu, grabbed six offensive boards before the break, Maryland entered the locker rooms up by four, 34-30.

But as we saw so many times from Dosunmu in his three years in Champaign, it’s all about how you finish. And that was certainly true Thursday night.

Cockburn returned in the second half with two fouls and got going fast. After only seven first-half points, the 7-foot junior turned it on after the break and finished with another double-double, which included a career-high 18 rebounds.

And then Trent Frazier, one of two players (Da’Monte Williams) who spent time with Illinois both before and after Dosunmu’s tenure, went ballistic, hitting back-to-back threes in the middle of the half to push the Illini ahead where they stayed the rest of the game.

STAT STUFFERS

  • Kofi Cockburn (ILL): 23 points, 18 rebounds
  • Da’Monte Williams (ILL): 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
  • Alfonso Plummer (ILL): 12 points, 3 assists
  • Donta Scott (UMD): 17 points, 7 rebounds
  • Eric Ayala (UMD): 16 points, 2 assists

SOUND SMART

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

DeMarvelous.

And what a beautiful sight it is.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

TWEET OF THE GAME

It’s true.

WHO’S NEXT

Sorry, Illini nation, but Illinois has another little break coming up.

The Illini travel to Lincoln next Tuesday, Jan. 11 to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 7:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.