January 6, 2022
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Kofi Cockburn saw former teammate and fellow All-American Ayo Dosunmu return home to raise his jersey into the State Farm Center rafters. Then went out and made his case to join him up there one day.
The junior center teamed up with super senior Trent Frazier to score 30 of Illinois' 46 second half points as the Illini overcame a sluggish first half to beat Maryland, 76-64.
The win was the Illini's first over Maryland in five tries and it keeps Illinois (11-3, 4-0) tied atop the Big Ten with Michigan State. The two rivals are the lone unbeatens left in conference play, after 13th ranked Ohio State was upset at Indiana Thursday night.
It looked as if the Terrapins might continue their dominance. After Cockburn left the game with two fouls at the 10:50 mark in the first half, Maryland (8-6, 0-3) held Illinois to just two field goals the rest of the half as they reversed a 21-7 deficit and took a 34-30 lead into halftime.
A Hakim Hart jumper to open the second half gave the visitors their biggest advantage at 36-30. Illinois clawed its way back to even the score at 42 before a Donta Scott jumper and Eric Ayala thre-pointer allowed the Terps to regain their cushion.
That's when Frazier took over. After Cockburn and Da'Monte Williams each scored layups, Frazier went on a personal 8-0 run with a layup and a pair of treys to spur a 12-0 run and a 54-47 lead that Illinois never relinquished. Frazier scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including all four of his three-pointers.
Cockburn was even more dominating after halftime. The nation's second leading scorer managed just seven points in the first half, but put on a display of nimble footwork to score on hook shots, layups, and power dunks on his way to a game-high 23 points, 16 coming in the second half, fouling out two Terrapins who tried to stop him. Cockburn added a career-high tying 18 rebounds for his seventh consecutive double-double game, ninth of the season, and 37th of his career.
Scott led Maryland with 17 points. The Terrapins fall to 0-3 for the first time ever as a member of the Big Ten Conference. They'll host Illinois on January 21st.
Alfonso Plummer added 12 points for an Illini team that has now won four straight and has the weekend off before traveling to Nebraska Tuesday and hosting preseason Big Ten favorite Michigan Friday night.
The victory capped off a special night that saw Dosunmu become the 34th player in Illini history to have his name and jersey raised to hang with other banners representing Illini legends. There's no question Cockburn is working hard to become the 35th.
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