Illinois men’s basketball dominates Saint Francis, sets program record with 18 triples in 58-point win

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Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Illinois center Kofi Cockburn dunks the basketball during the game against Saint Francis (Pa.) at State Farm Center on Saturday afternoon. The Illini beat the Red Flash, 106-48, behind a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double from Cockburn.

By Drew Friberg, Staff Writer

In a record-setting performance, Illinois defeated the Red Flash of Saint Francis, 106-48, at home Saturday afternoon.

Kofi Cockburn, who recorded his 34th double-double for the program, led the Illini with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Alfonso Plummer shot 50% from three, scoring 19 points, leaving him just one point shy from recording his seventh straight 20-point performance in a row. In his first start in nearly a month, Jacob Grandison also stepped up, putting up 18 points and five assists.

The Red Flash started the game off hot, hitting three triples in their first three possessions, putting them up four points early. The Illini were not fazed by this early streak from the Red Flash, though, immediately going on a 15-2 run themselves to take a 9-point lead.

This run came via two 3-pointers from Plummer and consistent scoring from Cockburn.

Midway through the first half is when the Illini really started to surge ahead. Immediately following the 15-2 run, Cockburn, Plummer and Grandison combined for the Illini to go on a 16-2 run, extending their lead to 19 with just under five minutes left in the first half.

Plummer took over the first half and entered halftime with a game-high 19 points, going 5/7 from deep, while Cockburn was not far behind with 13 points and five rebounds.

“There is a gift,” said head coach Brad Underwood in reference to Plummer’s shooting. “He’s been blessed with great hand-eye coordination, he’s got great athleticism and he’s been able to master it by spending a lot of time in the gym.”

Although it was the Illini who were putting up a high scoring game, it was actually the Red Flash who dominated the offensive glass, out-rebounding the Illini 13-4 despite being down 47-23 at the half.

The Illini picked up right where they left off, going on a 16-6 run to start off the second half. Even more Illini started to get in on the action, with Williams and Frazier heating up during this run, putting the Illini up 63-29 just five minutes into the second half. 

After a dull few minutes from the Illini, Cockburn gave the home fans something to cheer about after slamming home two dunks in a row. 

With a nice 3-pointer from freshman Luke Goode, the Illini were back to doubling the Red Flash in points, 70-34. Goode’s trey opened up a 23-2 scoring run for the Illini, with freshman RJ Melendez opening up his scoring on the night as well. 

Three-pointers proved to be the difference for the Illini today, as the team went 18/34 from deep, which breaks the program’s all-time record for 3-pointers made in a game. 

“We practice threes all the time,” Grandison said when asked about the record. “We’re all confident shooting it. It is what it is.”

After a tough loss to Arizona just a week ago, this win will give the Illini confidence going into their next match against Missouri on Wednesday.

 

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