No Games? No Problem! Illini bury Gophers on the road, 76-53

IlliniGuys Staff

January 4, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS, Mn. - Kofi Cockburn scored 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked four shots and Illinois held Minnesota to a season-worst point total as the Illini posted a dominating 76-53 win Tuesday night.

The game had been delayed two days due to an outbreak of positive COVID tests within the Illinois program.  The result is the Illini (10-3, 3-0) hadn't played since routing Missouri in the Braggin' Rights game back on December 22nd, a span of 13 days.

They didn't show any rust. Illinois built a 31-15 lead in the first half and withstood a Gophers (10-2, 1-2) rally fueled by three straight turnovers to take a 41-30 lead into halftime.

Then Cockburn took over.  The All-American center scored eleven points as the Illini opened the half on an 18-4 run to expand their lead to 59-34 and maintained a 20-point lead the rest of the way.  Cockburn recorded his eighth double-double of the season and 36th of his career.

Jacob Grandison added 11 points and Alfonso Plummer scored 10, though he saw his streak of consecutive games with at least one three-pointer end at nine.

Jamison Battle and Eric Curry scored 10 points each for Minnesota, which was completely dominated by Illinois for the second time in a row.  The 23-point deficit was the Gophers' most lopsided loss since the Illini won in Williams Arena last February 94-63.

The Illini have been dominant on the road in the Big Ten during the past 12 months.  They're now 2-0 on the road this season (Minnesota and Iowa), have won five straight and 10 of their last 11 in opposing arenas dating back to last season.  Adding in the three wins at the conference tournament last March, the Illini have won eight straight Big Ten games away from home.

But State Farm Center is where they will be Thursday night for a special home game against Maryland.  Illinois alum and former All-American Ayo Dosunmu will be in the house as the Illini raise his #11 jersey to the rafters.  It's a 6pm tipoff and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

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