By Joseph G. Phillips, Crusader Sports Editor
The Illinois Fighting Illini improved to 8-3 on the season with a 66-58 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday, January 2, at home.
Sophomore center and last year’s BIG TEN freshman of the year Kofi Cockburn, led the Illini, finishing with a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds in the contest.
“I was pleased to see some balanced scoring on our part,” said Brad Underwood, head coach of the Fighting Illini. “It’s always good to see that, particularly in conference games.”
Underwood said he was very impressed with his team play on Saturday night. He received big contributions from senior Da’Monte Williams, who added 12 points and star guard Ayo Dosunmu who also added 12.
“I take my shots in practice and before the game and when I get the chance, I take them in the game,” Williams said. “And I try to knock them in.”
The Illini led by as many as 10 points heading into the second half but watched their lead dwindle away after a 16-0 run by the Boilermakers. The Boilermakers led 39-33 at one point during the half.
The Fighting Illini countered the Boilermakers with another run of their own, going on a 17-5 run in the second half with 11:05 left to play. The Fighting Illini recaptured the lead at 50-44.
The Illini continued to dominate down the stretch, receiving great play from freshman guard Andre’ Curbelo, who finished with eight points and six assists in the win
Final Score: Illinois 66, Purdue 58.
With the victory, the Fighting Illini are now 4-1 in conference play.
Chicago Crusader Players of the Game:
Kofi Cockburn, Illinois, 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Da’Monte Williams, Illinois, added 12 points and star guard Ayo Dosunmu also added 12.
Joseph G. Phillips is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 15 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q & A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.