December 6, 2021
IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Alfonso Plummer reached the 20-point mark for the fifth straight game and Illinois hit 10-of-12 free throws in the closing moments to defeat Iowa 87-83 Monday night. The victory is not only the Illini's first in Iowa City since 2017, but it also gives them their first 2-0 in Big Ten play since the 2013-14 season.
Plummer and Jacob Grandison led Illinois (7-2, 2-0) with 21 points each. Trent Frazier added 18 points and Kofi Cockburn recorded his 32nd career double-double with 17 points and a career-best 18 rebounds.
Illinois withstood a 21-2 run by Iowa (7-2, 0-2) midway through the first half as they fell behind 31-22, but rallied to take a 39-36 halftime lead. Cockburn, the nation's 2nd leading scorer at 24.0 points per game, then scored 14 points in the second half to lead the charge. Illinois hit 24-of-28 free throws overall and dominated the boards 52-23.
Plummer, the super senior transfer from Utah, is enjoying the best scoring streak of his career. During this five-game run, he's averaging 23.4 points per game, has hit 23-of-47 three-point attempts, and is perfect on 26 shots from the free throw line. His hot shooting in the game's first six and a half minutes - which included a trio of three-pointers and a layup - staked Illinois to an early 20-10 lead. Then, after being shut down, Plummer sparked the Illini again with a layup plus a free throw, a three-point bucket, and four more free throws in the final 3:36 to douse an Iowa comeback.
Keegan Murray came into the game as the nation's leading scorer at 26.6 points per game but was held to 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, 12 of those points coming in a desperate stretch in the final four minutes as Iowa clawed back from an 11-point deficit.
Illinois hit eleven three-pointers in the game and have a total of 23 in their two Big Ten games, their most in back-to-back conference games since hitting 24 against Nebraska and Michigan State in March 2017. It's also the first time the Illini have scored 80 or more points in four consecutive games since November 2017 in Brad Underwood's first month as head coach.
Illinois returns home to face 10th ranked Arizona Saturday afternoon (4pm, FOX).
Stay with IlliniGuys.com for more postgame coverage and analysis.
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