Illinois men’s basketball dominates Missouri, wins Braggin’ Rights in blowout fashion

Kofi+Cockburn+goes+up+for+a+dunk+during+Illinois+mens+basketballs+game+against+Missouri+in+the+Braggin+Rights+rivalry+on+Saturday.

Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Kofi Cockburn goes up for a dunk during Illinois men’s basketball’s game against Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights rivalry on Saturday.

By Christian Jones, Staff Writer

Behind a double-double from Kofi Cockburn and a one-sided second half, Illinois won its first Braggin’ Rights game since 2017, beating Missouri, 88-63, at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

The first half started off neck and neck as both teams knocked down several early threes. Jacob Grandison hit two back-to-back triples in the first three minutes, and Alfonso Plummer added one as well.

Kofi Cockburn didn’t score a basket until seven minutes had elapsed in the first half when he banked in a contested layup off a pass from Coleman Hawkins. Cockburn would go on to score six points in the next four minutes. 

The Illini took a small lead at first, as they led 20-10 with 12 minutes to go in the first half, but that lead would soon grow to 17.

The Tigers eventually went on 11-0 run over the course of three minutes to cut the Illini’s lead to 6.

With five minutes remaining in the half and Missouri on a 11-0 run, the Illini slowed down and got the ball to Kofi Cockburn down low. Cockburn easily backed down Kobe Brown and dropped in a baby hook to bring him up to 10 points on the night.

With 1:30 left in the half, the Illini led 34-25, a comfortable lead. Missouri’s Amari Davis missed a three, and Da’Monte Williams grabbed the rebound and quickly dished it to Trent Frazier. 

Frazier had already made one three at that point but had otherwise been quiet in the half. He slowly walked the ball up the court only to stop and pull up from 30 feet and drill a three. 

That shot extended the Illini’s lead to 12, and less than a minute later, Frazier pulled another deep three to extend the lead to 15. He would end the half with nine points.

“I came to this university to play in these type of games, these tough environments,” Frazier said. “It’s fun having Illini nation behind our backs, screaming and cheering. It’s a fun game.”

Missouri scored once more to end the half, but Illinois headed into halftime with a commanding 40-26 lead. 

The Illini shot 7/14 from three in the first compared to Missouri’s 2/8. Cockburn and Plummer led the way with 10 points each. Frazier and Grandison both had nine.

The Illini opened the second half on fire. Frazier specifically continued to fire away, and he hit back-to-back treys to open the second 20 minutes of play, almost mirroring his late first-half performance, just on the other end of the court.

Plummer joined in on the party on the next possession, hitting a three of his own, giving the Illini a 21-point lead. Cockburn added two huge slams and hit a free throw that gave the Illini a 51-26 lead with 17 minutes left in the second half.

“It was incredible, the momentum that we had, Trent hitting a couple threes,” Cockburn said. “It was, like, adrenaline. It felt really good; there’s gonna be a lot more of those.” 

Several Illini joined in to collectively solidify the blowout. Brandin Podziemski finally got on the board, connecting from deep for his first points of the night, and Coleman Hawkins added three as well.

In what was probably the highlight of the night, Cockburn once again backed down Brown, but this time he spun and threw down a one handed bomb on Brown’s head and drew the foul. 

“I’m in awe,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “Everybody sees his power, his aggression, his almost violence sometimes that he plays with. … He does something every day where you just go, ‘OK, well I’m glad he’s on our team.’”

Missouri finished the game on an 8-0 run, but that was all too late. The final deficit was 25 points, but the Illini at one point led by 37.

Cockburn finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Plummer notched another 20-point night, scoring 22 on just 12 shot attempts while Frazier put in 15 points of his own.

Missouri was led in scoring by Kobe Brown, who scored 13 points. Brown was also responsible for guarding Cockburn all night and did as good as anyone could hope for. Freshman Trevon Brazille score 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked six shots.

“I like the way we’re handling ourselves on the defensive and continuing to grow on that end as well,” Underwood said. “So, all in all, it’s gonna be a better Christmas than the last one.”

 

@JonesChristianT

[email protected]