Illinois bench cheer
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What happened

The difference 24 hours can make. It might not have been pretty — particularly with recurring turnover trouble — but Illinois bounced back from a rough 20-point loss to Cincinnati with a 72-64 victory against Kansas State in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic. It was a result the Illini needed to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Feb. 2020.

What it means

The eight-point win against the Wildcats provided glimpses of why Illinois started the season ranked among the top 25 teams in the country. Kofi Cockburn was a physical force in the paint with his first double-double of the season, and the Illini were able to spread shooters around their preseason All-American center and actually knock down shots. Both good signs moving forward

What’s next

Feast Week continues for Illinois on Friday with a post-Thanksgiving home game against UT Rio Grande Valley. Given Tuesday’s win against Kansas State was a bit of a “get right” game, the Illini can use their week-ender against the Vaqueros to build off of the positives (better energy and better shooting for sure) from a good end to their trip to Kansas City, Mo.

What was said

“We could be lining up and paying low major buy games and winning them all and not figuring out who we are. You guys all know me. This is year five. I don’t do that. We're going to play people. We’re going to find out. We get dinged a little bit early? I don’t care. I enjoy that. We have to find out the reality of who we are.” — Illinois coach Brad Underwood

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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