No. 11 Illinois men’s basketball blows out Arkansas State as Curbelo, Frazier return from injury

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Cameron Krasucki

Coleman Hawkins celebrates during the Illinois game against Jackson State on Tuesday. The No. 11 Illini beat the Arkansas State Red Wolves at State Farm Center on Friday night.

By Claire O'Brien, Sports Digital Content Editor

The Illinois men’s basketball team defeated Arkansas State, 92-53, Friday night at the State Farm Center. Kofi Cockburn was serving the second game of his three-game suspension, and Andre Curbelo and Trent Frazier were back after missing Tuesday’s game with injuries.

“(My) first game back felt really good, though, you know, trying to get my rhythm and get my flow back on track,” Curbelo said. “So, I feel pretty good, pretty confident, you know, and I was out for a (few) days.”

Coleman Hawkins had a double-double, with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Jacob Grandison finished with 15 points.

Coleman Hawkins scored the first points of the night on a dunk after about two minutes of play. By the 4:00 mark, Illinois had a 7-2 lead over Arkansas State. A pair of Jacob Grandison free throws gave Illinois a 9-2 lead and wrapped up a 7-point Illinois run.

Illinois got off to a strong start, and just over six minutes into the game, Arkansas State had seven fouls, so Illinois went to the free-throw line every time they were fouled for the rest of the first half. Arkansas State finished the first half with 17 fouls.

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    Illinois’ lead grew to double digits with just under seven minutes in the game, and a 9-point scoring streak gave Illinois a 14-point lead with 12:43 to go in the first half.

    Arkansas State then went on a 6-0 run to cut Illinois’ lead to eight. Brandon Lieb entered the game and scored a layup to break the over-two-minute scoring drought. Following a pair of Arkansas State threes, Illinois’ lead narrowed to four with 9:29 left in the first half.

    Illinois pushed its lead back to double digits with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

    With 6:33 left in the first half, Curbelo got a technical foul and immediately after Underwood got a technical foul. Marquis Eaton made all four free throws and Illinois led by 6 points after the play. Illinois went on a 7-0 run to push its lead to 13 with 3:31 left in the first half.

    Caleb Fields scored a layup for Arkansas State with 3:05 in the first half remaining, but that would be the last time the Red Wolves scored in the first half.

    Illinois went on an 11-0 run to close out the first half, five of which came via Coleman Hawkins from the free-throw line. Hawkins scored 14 points in the first half and had eight rebounds. Grandison also scored in double digits, with 11 points in the first 20 minutes.

    Arkansas State scored two jumpers to open the second half, but Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk scored his first points of the evening to kick off another 7-0 Illini run. After a jumper from Norchad Omier, Illinois went on an 8-0 run to take a 63-32 lead.

    With 17:36 left in the second half, Omier received a technical foul. Just over a minute later, Arkansas State head coach Mike Balado got a technical foul. 

    With about 12:30 left in the game, Da’Monte Williams missed a pair of free throws and Desi Sills got the dunk for Arkansas on the other end.

    Illinois went on a 7-0 run, culminating in a three from Trent Frazier with 10:25 left in the game. Arkansas State promptly called a timeout.

    With nine minutes left, Alfonso Plummer made a 3-pointer to give Illinois a 34-point lead, its largest lead of the night at that point. Over a minute later, Bosmans-Verdonk made a dunk to give the Illini an 83-47 lead.

    Arkansas State called a timeout with 5:43 remaining, but the Illini had a 38-point lead at that time. Frazier, the last starter on the court, was subbed out during the timeout.

    RJ Melendez dunked with 3:24 left to close out the Illini’s scoring for the night and the Illini led 92-51 at that point. 

    With the benches emptied by the end of the game, the Illini walked away with a 92-53 victory.

    The Illini will travel to Marquette on Monday night.

    “So all in all very pleased,” Underwood said. “Now we take a step up, we go on the road and we find out truly who we are.”

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