Player of the game
Illinois center Kofi Cockburn
Pretty easy choice. Again. Cockburn posted his fourth career double-double — in five games, no less — with a 18-point, 17-rebound performance. He was most of the way there rebound-wise in the first half considering he pulled down seven within the first 4 minutes, 44 seconds. The freshman 7-footer remains the most consistent player on the Illini roster. Who would have guessed?
Illinois B | The Citadel C
The Illini’s three-point shooting remains a concern, and it took until almost 4 minutes into the second half before Trent Frazier made the team’s first from beyond the arc. But the Illinois guards limited turnovers for a full game for the first time all season, and Ayo Dosunmu had a mini-breakthrough with 16 points despite his struggles from deep.
Illinois A | The Citadel D
Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili closed out Monday’s win against Hawaii. Wednesday, the Illini big men were responsible for about the only positives at the offensive end against The Citadel. While most of their teammates struggled — particularly from three-point range — Cockburn and Bezhanishvili were reliable scorers.
Illinois B | The Citadel D
A game after shortening his rotation to just two players off the bench in the second half against Hawaii, Illinois coach Brad Underwood went to his reserves early — and then fairly often — in the win against The Citadel. The production was fairly balanced, too, with Da’Monte Williams hawking rebounds and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk solid across the board.
Illinois A- | The Citadel D
It took a half to get going — again — but Illinois finally put the hammer down on a nonconference opponent. It probably can’t be ignored that The Citadel also played Tuesday night at Southeast Missouri State, but the Illini finally got some offensive flow.
Hit or miss first half. More consistent final 20 minutes. Sound familiar? Wednesday night’s game played out like several previous games for Illinois. It might not have all been pretty basketball, but it was still a win for the Illini.
WHAT IT MEANS
Yes, Illinois is winning the games it should, but the Illini remain a work in progress, searching for a full 40 minutes of locked-in basketball at both ends. Particularly on the offensive end — a departure from previous seasons.
Illinois’ busy stretch of home games continues at 7 p.m. Saturday against Hampton. When it comes to a singular player from a nonconference foe, few compare to the Pirates’ Jermaine Marrow — the No. 2 scorer in the country.