Kofi Cockburn scored 21 points and hauled in 10 rebounds to help No. 25 Illinois beat Michigan 68-53 on Friday night.
“No matter who is on the court, no matter what player it is, I always go out there and try to destroy them and dominate them,” Cockburn said. “That’s the narrative I’m trying to set. I don’t care who it is.”
Both teams struggled from distance in a foul-plagued first half, combining to go 1 of 20 from 3-point range.
DeVante’ Jones led Michigan with 17 points on a 7-of-16 shooting clip, and was the only Wolverine to make a 3 on 10 attempts. Jones brought the Wolverines back within six points with his jumper with 5:16 left, but from there, Illinois' Trent Frazier took over.
Frazier scored 16 points in the second half on 5-of-11 shooting, including a stretch where he scored 11 straight points for Illinois (13-3, 6-0 Big Ten). He finished with 18 points and seven assists, the latter a career-high.
“I think it really comes from being a fifth-year, having that experience,” Frazier said. “Having Ayo (Dosunmu) last year, seeing him play with such confidence with the ball in his hands late-game, making plays down the stretch whether he scored or passed.”
Michigan (7-7, 1-3) was without star center Hunter Dickinson due to an undisclosed medical issue, as well as guard Brandon Johns Jr.
Freshman forward Moussa Diabate was hard-pressed to replace Dickinson’s production, finishing with nine points and six rebounds after getting into foul trouble early on.
Illinois coach Brad Underwood credited the short-handed Wolverines for hanging around for most of the game. Michigan held a 16-8 advantage in second-chance points largely due to 15 offensive rebounds.
“They played harder than we did tonight,” Underwood said, “which doesn’t have me very excited and doesn’t happen very often.”
Illinois: After a loss to Arizona on Dec. 11, the Illini have now won six straight games and sit alone atop the Big Ten at 6-0 (at least until 5-0 Michigan State takes on Northwestern on Saturday). The Illini are still without guard Andre Curbelo, who is rehabilitating from an undisclosed injury, but are clicking on both ends as No. 7 Purdue comes to town on Monday.
Michigan: Dickinson can’t return soon enough for the Wolverines, who have now lost four of their last five games. The Wolverines have an opportunity to avoid the Big Ten cellar with winnable games coming up against Maryland, at Indiana and against Northwestern.
Illinois: Hosts No. 7 Purdue on Monday.
Michigan: Hosts Maryland on Tuesday.
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