Illini Throttle Rutgers 86-51 To Open Big Ten Season

IlliniGuys Staff

December 3, 2021

(Cover photo courtesy Joe Clark/IlliniGuys)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Alfonso Plummer scored 24 points and Jacob Grandison added 16 as Illinois completely dominated Rutgers 86-51 in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

The Illini (6-2, 1-0) also got 13 points and 15 rebounds from Kofi Cockburn to earn his 31st career double-double.  Cockburn recorded season lows in points and field goal attempts as his teammates were able to establish a double-digit lead before he scored his first basket.

Illinois had an 8-7 lead at the first media timeout at 14:44, then went on a 15-2 run to break the game open, capped by Cockburn's alley-oop layup at the 9:19 mark to make a 23-9 Illini advantage.  It was the second game in a row that the 7-footer did not score in the first ten minutes.

With the Scarlet Knights (4-4, 0-1) focusing on the All-American inside, Illinois shooters had enough space to hit 12 three-pointers, led by Plummer.  The Utah transfer continued his spectacular play, hitting three of eight from outside the arc. In his last four games, Plummer is 19-of-39 on his three-point attempts and is perfect from the free throw line (23-of-23) this season.

Grandison came off the bench to hit 7-of-11 from the field, including a pair of three pointers.  The graduate student from Oakland combining with Plummer and Cockburn to outscore Rutgers (53-51).

Rutgers shot just 31 percent from the field and Jaden Jones was the only Scarlet Knight in double figures with 10 points.  Coleman Hawkins drew the defensive assignment on Ron Harper Jr. and held the Rutgers star to just five points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Illinois played its third game in a row without Andre Curbelo.  The sophomore point guard spent the game in street clothes and his return to the lineup is uncertain.

The Illini will travel to face Iowa Monday night (6pm, FS1).

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for more postgame coverage and analysis.

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