By Joseph Phillips, Crusader Sports Editor
The fifth ranked Illinois Fighting Illini improved to 19-6 on the season with a 74-69 victory over Big Ten rival Wisconsin on Saturday, February 27, on the road.
The Fighting Illini was without their top player Ayo Dosunmu, who missed his second straight game with a broken nose. Dosunmu received a broken nose in the team’s 81-72 loss to unranked Michigan State.
“I could not be prouder of this group of guys and their toughness and ability to step up,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood via the AP. “Grit was a big part of it today.”
In spite of the absence of Dosunmu, the Fighting Illini was led by the physical play of center Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Saturday’s win over the Badgers.
Cockburn’s physical play did not intimidate the Badgers in the second half, as guard D’Mitrik Trice exploded for 19 points in the final 2 minutes and 12 seconds of play.
Trice made five three-pointers and four free throws down the stretch but fell short, in spite of a game-high 29 points in the loss.
The Illini jumped out to a 37-26 halftime lead but was outscored 43-37 to close out the game. Point guard Andre Curbelo added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Fighting Illini in the victory.
Final Score: Illinois 74, Wisconsin 69.
Chicago Crusader Players of the Game:
Kofi Cockburn, Illinois, finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in the win.
D’Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin, scored a game-high 29 points in the loss.
Point guard Andre Curbelo, Illinois, added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Fighting Illini.