Plummer, Hawkins emerge as offensive threats in Illinois men’s basketball’s win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Sydney La

Alfonso Plummer prepares on defense in Illinois men’s basketball’s game against Indiana University at Pennsylvania on Friday night at State Farm Center. Alfonso Plummer and Coleman Hawkins both stepped up in the 94-79 Illini win after three key players missed the game due to injury.

By Jackson Janes, Sports Editor

In Illinois’ final preseason game of the season, it struggled to get going in the first half against Indiana University Pennsylvania before pulling away in the second half en route to a 94-79 in front of a loud State Farm Center crowd.

After beating St. Francis (Illinois) by 67 points last weekend, the Illini needed production from everyone to beat the pesky Crimson Hawks with Austin Hutcherson and Da’Monte Williams missing out due to injury.

The good

Alfonso Plummer proves to be reliable 3-point shooter

With Da’Monte Willams and Austin Hutcherson out due to their respective injuries and Trent Frazier out for most of the game after hurting his shoulder in the first half, Alfonso Plummer proved he can pick up the slack on the offensive end. 

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After scoring just four points against St. Francis last weekend, Plummer exploded for 16 points on 33% shooting, recording three treys on 43% shooting from behind the arc. He also saw a significant increase in playing time, seeing 33 minutes of action on Friday night.

Plummer will need to continue to stay hot from behind the arc, especially since this was one of his biggest weapons at Utah last season.

Coleman Hawkins can score from anywhere and everywhere

Everyone knew, including Hawkins himself, that he was going to see a bigger role this season, and that began on Friday. The sophomore was named to the starting lineup for the first time in his college career, and he made sure Brad Underwood didn’t second-guess that decision.

Hawkins recorded a career-high 16 points while shooting 50% from the floor, including two 3-pointers. He also had three dunks on the night, including an emphatic one-handed jam on an Andre Curbelo lob. Though he shot just over 28% from deep, the Crimson Hawks often backed off him and gave him space to shoot in order to contain Kofi Cockburn in the paint, a trend that will likely continue into the regular season.

Illinois has no shortage of 3-point shooters

With Frazier, Hutcherson and Williams out, three of Illinois’ most dangerous 3-point threats, the Illini still found production from beyond the arc from several players, including Plummer, Hawkins, Jacob Grandison and Luke Goode.

Though that quartet was the only group to make a trey on Friday, eight different players attempted a 3-pointer. With last year’s Illini squad among the worst teams in the conference in terms of triples attempted, having several players comfortable with shooting from deep should be promising headed into a challenging Big Ten schedule. 

The bad

Curbelo’s bad decision making

Bad might be a bit of an understatement from Friday night’s win, as Curbelo finished the night with a career-high 10 turnovers. Whether it be forcing plays that just weren’t there or a string of miscommunication and mix-ups with teammates, Illinois will need the reigning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year to settle down and make the simple passes at times.

To his credit, Curbelo did finish with 14 points and 12 assists, but Friday just wasn’t his night, and a second-half technical and his subsequent fouling out was just a cherry on top to an uninspiring preseason game.

Trouble with offensive rebounding

Despite having 10 players listed at 6-foot-6 or taller, Illinois gave IUP several second-chance baskets, with the Crimson Hawks grabbing nine offensive boards and scoring 12 points off these second-chance opportunities.

These rebounds often came in bunches, including a string of two straight IUP offensive boards that led to a 3-pointer in the first half that cut the Crimson Hawks’ deficit to 4 points.

For a team with so much size, the Illini will need to sort out its rebounding, and a more talented Big Ten team will punish them down the stretch.



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