Illini men’s basketball takes down Hawkeyes, wins first game in Iowa City since 2017

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Photo Courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn battles for position in the paint against Iowa’s Keegan Murray during the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Monday.

By Jackson Janes, Sports Editor

Monday’s matchup between Iowa and Illinois looked much different than it has in recent years.

After Iowa’s Luka Garza and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu battled for the Big Ten Player of the Year award for two seasons, the pair now plays in the NBA, with Garza playing for the Detroit Pistons and Dosunmu representing his hometown Chicago Bulls.

Though both players are gone, the fierce rivalry between the two programs remained on full display, with the Illini winning their first game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since 2017 to take down the Hawkeyes, 87-83.

Dominating on the glass on both ends of the court, the Illini finished the game with 19 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Hawkeyes, 52 to 23, as Kofi Cockburn recorded a career-high 18 rebounds.

Illinois’ offense stayed hot early after putting up 86 points in the team’s 35-point win over Rutgers on Friday, opening Monday’s game on a 13-4 run. That four-minute stretch featured three treys: two from Alfonso Plummer and one from Trent Frazier.

Extending their lead to 10 points just under six minutes into the half on a Jacob Grandison layup and a third Plummer triple, the Illini offense then went cold. The Hawkeyes seemed to steal the Illini’s offensive spark, going on a 21-2 run via 12 points from sophomore guard Tony Perkins to open up a nine-point lead.

Frazier snapped the Illini’s four-minute scoreless streak with his second 3-pointer of the evening, cutting his team’s deficit to six. 

Illinois closed the half strong, with nine points from Grandison — all of which came from behind the arc — and four points from Coleman Hawkins, giving the visiting Illini a 3-point lead with 20 minutes to play.

Iowa’s Keegan Murray, who leads the country in scoring with 24.6 points per game, made just one basket in the first half, but he got to work quickly in the second half, scoring the first four points of the frame as Iowa retook the lead, 40-39.

Kofi Cockburn also struggled in the opening 20 minutes, taking — and making — just one shot. But like Murray, he started off the second half hot, scoring his team’s first six points of the half over the course of just over one minute.

With the Illini up by five after Cockburn’s 6-0 run, neither team was able to pull ahead.

Illinois’ fifth-year seniors did not let that stand for much longer, with seven points from Frazier and three from Da’Monte Williams giving the Illini a 10-0 run to open up a 15-point lead, their biggest of the night, with just under nine minutes to play.

A 10-1 Iowa lead over the next two minutes put the Hawkeyes right back in it, though, as they cut their deficit to just six points with seven minutes to play, using a full-court press to force two straight 10-second violations during that stretch.

Illinois reopened a double-digit lead with under four minutes to play, with Plummer making a layup while being fouled and hitting the ensuing free throw for his first points of the second half after recording 11 in the first half.

Iowa quickly cut its deficit to a single possession, using eight straight points from Murray in under a minute as the Hawkeyes trailed 72-69 with two minutes to play.

With the Illini’s lead still three points with 90 seconds left to play, an Alfonso Plummer triple gave the team a bit of wiggle room before he hit two free throws to open up an eight-point lead with just over a minute to play.

Illinois hit its free throws to close the game to walk out of Iowa City with a win.

Plummer and Grandison both notched 21 points, while Cockburn finished with a double-double of 17 points and 18 rebounds. Frazier, who picked up his first career win in Iowa City, added 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals.

The Illini are now 7-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play, while the Hawkeyes dropped to 7-2 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten action.

Illinois will return to Champaign on Saturday to take on No. 11 Arizona, and it will not play another conference opponent until heading to Minnesota in January.

 

@JacksonJanes3

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