February 2, 2022
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Kofi Cockburn proved to be more devastating than even Mother Nature herself.
With a foot of snow blanketing central Illinois, the junior All-American center scored a Big Ten career high 37 points as 18th ranked Illinois completely dominated #11 Wisconsin 80-67 in a clash of Big Ten titans Wednesday night.
The two teams came into the night tied, along with Michigan State, for first place in the Big Ten. But there was no question who was the better team on this night as Illinois (16-5, 9-2) re-takes sole possession of the top spot in the conference.
Illinois took a slim 42-38 lead into halftime behind 20 points from Cockburn, who was unstoppable. The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year hit 16-of-19 from the field and ended up just one point shy of his career high, set earlier this season vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley. It's a familiar result for Wisconsin, which is 0-4 vs. Cockburn. The 7-footer also grabbed 12 rebounds for his 40th career double-double, one shy of tying the school record.
Wisconsin sophomore Johnny Davis led the Badgers with 22 points, but hit just 5-of-19 from the field as Da'Monte Williams hounded the star player all night.
Jacob Grandison broke out of his slump with 14 points. Sophomore point guard Andre Curbelo returned after missing the last two games while in safety protocol, scoring seven points in eleven key minutes that gave the other Illini guards more of a breather than they had while he was out.
Wisconsin (17-4, 8-3) had won nine of its last ten games, but suffered from ice cold shooting. The Badgers got a wide-open, uncontested three-pointer from Chucky Hepburn in the final seconds with the outcome already decided. That was just their third three-pointer made in 24 attempts on the night, the worst three-point shooting in the Big Ten this season since Michigan made just 1-of-10 at Illinois last month.
Illinois now goes back on the road to face Indiana on Saturday (11am CT, ESPN).
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