No. 8 Illini make quick work of Chicago State

  • Illinois center Kofi Cockburn had 14 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday's win over Chicago State in Champaign.

    Illinois center Kofi Cockburn had 14 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday's win over Chicago State in Champaign. Associated Press

 
Associated Press
Updated 11/26/2020 3:21 PM

CHAMPAIGN -- Ayo Dosunmu scored 22 points, freshman Andres Curbelo added 18 and No. 8 Illinois beat Chicago State 97-38 on Thursday.

The Illini (2-0) never trailed, scoring the first nine points and leading 47-17 at halftime. Big man Kofi Cockburn had 13 points and 5 rebounds at the break.

 

Adam Miller scored 15 points and Cockburn finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was Cockburn's 14th double-double in 34 career games and his second consecutive one. He had one more rebound than the entire Chicago State team did.

Illinois shot 36 of 60 from the field and 7 of 18 from 3-point range.

Xavier Johnson led Chicago State (0-2) with 10 points and Jordan Polynice had nine.

Illinois used its huge rebounding edge (55-10) to fuel its running game.

"Definitely rebounding is key and will be through the end of the season," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "It gives us that ability to get the break and run."

Underwood was particularly impressed with Cockburn's play under the basket.

"Kofi puts on a lot of pressure in front of the rim and that leads to a lot of fouls on the other guys," Underwood said.

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Said the 7-foot-1 sophomore from Jamaica: "I just go out there and do what I have to do. I just need to go out there and do it every day."

Illinois senior guard Trent Frazier, the team's leader on the court, can get hot offensively and has been known to rain down 3-pointers on opponents. But his main claim to fame is his smothering defense, considered among the best in the Big Ten.

Thursday was no exception.

"These first few games are for playing time and gaining confidence," Frazier said. "I think we were all on the same page out there today. Defense is something we work hard on."

The holiday tournament hasn't been productive for Chicago State, a last-minute addition to the four-team tournament when Wright State pulled out due to COVID-19 concerns. Ohio beat the Cougars 86-61 Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Chicago State coach Lance Irvin has opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Assistant Rodell Davis is coaching the team in Irvin's absence.

Underwood's game plan focused on forcing the ball inside after his team hit a program-record 17 3-pointers Wednesday in a 122-60 rout of North Carolina A&T.

It worked. Illinois scored 52 points in the paint Thursday, many of them on dunks and layups after beating the Cougars' defense.

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