Illini overwhelm Chicago State on Thanksgiving Day

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Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) shoots as Chicago State’s forward Carlo Marble (10) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill., Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette via AP)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)– Ayo Dosunmu scored 22 points, freshman Andres Curbelo added 18 and No. 8 Illinois beat Chicago State 97-38 on Thursday.

The Illini (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) never trailed in the game, scoring the first nine points and leading 47-17 at halftime. Big man Kofi Cockburn had 13 points and 5 rebounds at the break.

Adam Miller scored 15 points and Cockburn finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was Cockburn’s 14th double-double in 34 career games and his second consecutive one. He had one more rebound than the entire Chicago State team did.

Illinois shot 36 of 60 (60%) from the field and 7 of 18 (39%) from 3-point range.

Xavier Johnson led Chicago State (0-2, 0-0 Western Athletic Conference) with 10 points and Jordan Polynice had nine.

Illinois used its huge rebounding edge (55-10) to fuel its running game.

“Definitely rebounding is key and will be through the end of the season,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “It gives us that ability to get the break and run.”

Underwood was particularly impressed with Cockburn’s play under the basket.

“Kofi puts on a lot of pressure in front of the rim and that leads to a lot of fouls on the other guys,” Underwood said.

Said the 7-foot-1 sophomore from Jamaica: “I just go out there and do what I have to do. I just need to go out there and do it every day.”

Illinois senior guard Trent Frazier, the team’s leader on the court, can get hot offensively and has been known to rain down 3-pointers on opponents. But his main claim to fame is his smothering defense, considered among the best in the Big Ten. Thursday was no exception.

“These first few games are for playing time and gaining confidence,” Frazier said. “I think we were all on the same page out there today. Defense is something we work hard on.”

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