No. 12 Illinois (9-3, 5-1 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown
G Trent Frazier Sr. 6-2 9.1 Wellington, Fla.
G Adam Miller Fr. 6-3 9.3 Peoria
G Ayo Dosunmu Jr. 6-5 22.3 Chicago
G Da’Monte Williams Sr. 6-3 7.0 Peoria
C Kofi Cockburn So. 7-0 17.0 Kingston, Jamaica
FYI: Cockburn’s 12 rebounds Thursday at Northwestern pushed his average to 10.1 per game. That makes the Illini center one of 23 players nationwide averaging a double-double at this point of the season. Other notable players on that list include Saint Louis guard Jordan Goodwin, West Virginia forward Derek Culver and Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey.
Off the bench
G Andre Curbelo Fr. 6-1 9.4 Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
F Giorgi Bezhanishvili Jr. 6-9 6.2 Rustavi, Georgia
F Jacob Grandison R-Jr. 6-6 2.6 Oakland, Calif.
Maryland (6-6, 1-5)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown
G Eric Ayala Jr. 6-5 14.0 Wilmington, Del.
G Aaron Wiggins Jr. 6-6 11.9 Greensboro, N.C.
G Hakim Hart So. 6-6 9.3 Philadelphia
F Donta Scott So. 6-7 12.9 Philadelphia
F Galin Smith Sr. 6-9 4.3 Clinton, Miss.
FYI: Hart replaced Darryl Morsell in the starting lineup the past two games. Morsell missed the Terrapins’ Jan. 4 loss at Indiana after suffering a facial fracture Dec. 31 against Michigan. He was back for Thursday’s game against Iowa, but came off the bench.
Off the bench
G Darryl Morsell Sr. 6-5 7.3 Baltimore
F Jairus Hamilton Jr. 6-8 7.8 Charlotte, N.C.
G Aquan Smart Fr. 6-3 2.3 Evanston
Site: State Farm Center (15,544); Champaign.
Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Trent Meacham (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN-1490-AM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.
TV: Lisa Byington (play-by-play) and Robbie Hummel (analysis) will have the call on BTN.
Series: Maryland leads 11-6.
Last: Maryland won 75-66 on Feb. 7, 2020, in Champaign.
FYI: The pre-Big Ten portion of the Illinois-Maryland series makes up for more than half of the historical record, with most of those matchups coming in the late ‘90s and into the 2000s. The first-ever Illini-Terrapins matchup came in the second round of the 1984 NCAA tournament, with Illinois beating the Len Bias-led Terps 72-70 in Lexington, Ky. George Montgomery’s 15 points paced five Illini in double figures in that victory.
Beat writer Scott Richey’s storylines
Ayo Dosunmu led the coordinated floor slap effort in Thursday’s win at Northwestern. Jacob Grandison didn’t think much about it in the moment. Then he saw the replay after the Illini finished off their 81-56 victory in Evanston.
“I was like, ‘Dang, that looks tough,’ to be dribbling down the court, and you’ve got everybody showing their teeth and slapping the floor. We just came back from 15 (down) and now we’re up 10. That’s a lot to handle offensively.”
Count Illinois coach Brad Underwood among the fans of floor slapping.
“You can’t have it be fake,” Underwood said. “You can do that and it’s kind of phony, but you’ve got to have some teeth behind it. Yeah, I’m for anything that creates cohesiveness and energy and grit and fight and togetherness. But you’ve got to be able to back that up if you’re going to do it.”
Maryland doesn’t have much size on its roster, and what size Mark Turgeon does have he doesn’t use with 7-foot-2 center Chol Marial playing sparingly and 6-10 Swiss freshman Arnaud Revaz not playing at all.
The Terrapins play mostly five out, which was a look they turned to in the latter part of Big Ten play last year, which resulted in 6-10 forward Jalen Smith leading the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage.
“There’s no doubt it’s a team that can really drive the ball,” Underwood said. “They’re driving not just to score, but to kick it out. They’ve got a guy in (Jairus Hamilton) who plays the 5 that’s really a small forward at 6-8. They’re a team that’s built on the offensive end to shoot threes.”
Kofi Cockburn stopped one of Illinois’ final practices this week before Thursday’s game at Northwestern. The sophomore center wanted a word with his teammates.
“Kofi just huddled them up,” Underwood said. He just stopped practice. He didn’t like the way things were going.”
That’s a leadership tactic Underwood said Dosunmu has done many times. So have Trent Frazier and Giorgi Bezhanishvili.
“They’ll bring themselves together, and I’ve learned just to step back and let them have their 30 seconds or whatever they need and try to get themselves right,” Underwood said. “That’s awesome when you can do that. Before, it was always me having to do that. That’s not the way this should be all the time.”
Prediction | No. 12 Illinois 83, Maryland 70
Maryland’s lone Big Ten victory is a significant one — a road win at Wisconsin — but the Terps have mostly struggled in conference play. Only Penn State and Nebraska are lower in the Big Ten standings having yet to win a league game.Maryland ranks 11th in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency and 13th in defensive efficiency. Illinois is the favorite, and this is a game the Illini should win. Avoiding giving up what’s become a rather common big run or two won’t hurt that cause. (N-G prediction record: 9-3).