Player notes and grades: Braggin’ Rights 2019

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By Alec Busse, Contributing Writer

Illinois didn’t look like a team that had recently upset a top-5 program during Saturday’s annual Braggin’ Rights game against Mizzou. The Illini fell to the Tigers 63-56 and split the series for the decade. Illinois has experienced a litter of ups and downs since Braggin’ Rights conception in 1980, but here are a few grades and key takeaways from 2019’s matchup.

Trent Frazier: B-

Frazier was solid again defensively, as he kept former Illini Mark Smith off the board until late in the second half. Offensively, Frazier was scoreless in the first half but did have five points and a big three in the second half. Illinois needs him to be more consistent and more aggressive on the offensive end.

 Ayo Dosunmu: A-

First Half: Dosunmu was the only offensive constant for Illinois throughout the game. He had 21 points on 9-15 shooting from the field. Dosunmu did go 0-3 from three, and the Illini are going to need him to start hitting the deep ball when Big Ten play starts on January 2.

Da’Monte Williams: D

Williams missed two big layups in the second half that could have kept the Illini in it in the second half. The first was a layup in transition and the second was a wide-open bunny from inside the block. Williams did play hard diving on the floor for loose balls a couple of times, but he did more harm than good against the Tigers.

Giorgi Bezhanishvili: C 

Bezhanishvili was bad in the first half, totaling four turnovers which contributed to Illinois not getting any flow offensively. It looked like the sophomore had turned a corner in the last three games and had carved a more defined role, but he struggled in a rivalry game Illinois needed to improve their NCAA tournament resume.

Kofi Cockburn: C+

The best player Illinois has had all season has been Cockburn, but he struggled against Mizzou. The freshman failed to corral a rebound in the first half, which is inexplicable for someone of his size. Cockburn did have 13 points, but he was just 3-9 from the field and seven of his points came from the charity strike. 

Andres Feliz: D+

Andres Feliz has been a constant for Illinois since he arrived in Champaign last year. The senior was held scoreless and looked to force a couple of shots on the offensive end. Seniors need to show up every night when Big Ten play starts, and Feliz is going to be expected to be consistent going forward.

Alan Griffin: B

At times it looked like Griffin was the only Illini player who wanted to be on the court. Griffin finished with eight points on 2-7 from the field, but he also led the Illini in the rebounding. Illini fans want Griffin to get more playing time, and he is earning it with 27 combined points in the last two games. Griffin’s biggest question has been his defense, and he has been better on that end of the court as well.

Kipper Nichols: C

Nichols has looked like a different player in the last couple of games, but he looked more like the old Kipper than the recent Kipper. Nichols finished with just 2 points and missed a wide-open three in the corner. Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood wants more from Nichols on the glass, and he finished with just two rebounds.

Tevian Jones: N/A

Jones checked into the game for three short minutes in the second half when it looked like Underwood was desperate for offense. Jones didn’t get an opportunity to score the basketball.

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