CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Hoosiers finish their final road game with nail-biting experience that ultimately resulted in Indiana’s eleventh loss of the season. Even with another double-double for Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers were unable to pull through on a back-and-fourth game where neither team led by more than 7 points.
Indiana moved to 18-11 on the season overall and 8-10 in the conference. Illinois boosted their NCAA tournament resume with another important conference victory. Brad Underwood’s grabs their 20th win, which is a significant NCAA tournament benchmark.
As predicted, there were two players that everyone had eyes on. Indiana freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis and Illinois freshman Kofi Cockburn. Both were top frontcourt recruits of the 2020 class and headlined the Big Ten’s incoming freshman. Between the pair, they shared 12 weeks as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
Indiana’s game plan was to front Cockburn and deny the entry pass at all cost. At the cost of some foul trouble, the Hoosiers were able to accomplish their mission. Cockburn only had three points and two rebounds in the first half.
On the other hand, Indiana’s freshman was the more aggressive fighter to open the game. Jackson-Davis battled against Illinois’ forwards and drew two fouls on Giorgi Bezhanishvili within about ten seconds of game clock. Jackson-Davis, who had a quiet game against Purdue, finished the opening segment leading all scorers at ten points and pulled down five of Indiana’s 20 rebounds. Jackson-Davis finished with another double-double that included 12 points and 12 rebounds.
With two early fouls Joey Brunk and Race Thompson, Archie Miller ran guard-heavier lineups that included minutes from freshman guard Armaan Franklin. But the play of Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, and Devonte Green kept the Hoosiers in a tight battle in Champaign. The trio was responsible for a combined 20 points of Indiana’s 32 points in the first half. They also led the team with 10, 13, and 11 points respectively at the final buzzer.
Phinisee and Durham effectively used the glass to finish their transition buckets. Green did what he did best by hitting back-to-back threes from the distance. At a critical point in the game where Cockburn could have given Illinois the lead, Phinisee flew by with a monster volleyball spike-style block from the blindside.
The episode started out familiar for Archie Miller’s group. Like against Purdue on Thursday evening, the Hoosiers kept up bucket for bucket on the road. However, the Hoosiers did not let off the gas this afternoon. With the help of excellent guard play and more efficient scoring, Indiana took a 32-32 tie into the intermission.
The back-and-forth continued into the second half and remained as one of the most seesawing games for Indiana this season. If considered Jackson-Davis to own the first half, the second half was dominated by 7-foot Cockburn, who tallied his twelfth double-double on the season.
Cockburn’s sheer size individually protected the rim in the paint. As the second layer of defense for the Illini, Cockburn remained planted under the basket and waited for opportune blocks, which he got all afternoon. It didn’t matter if it was an Indiana guard driving downhill or an Indiana big posting up. Cockburn was omnipresent defensively.
On offense, the freshman was equally dominant. Despite not dribble for more than a handful of times, Cockburn positioned him well for offensive rebounds. An ironically undersized Indiana team threw Thompson and Jackson-Davis at him, but besides fouling, the Hoosiers could not find any successful ways to deny the bucket.
After double-digit lead changes and ties, the Illinois Fighting Illini pulled off the one possession victory at the very end despite a hard fought battle from the Hoosiers. Brad Underwood extended their win streak to four games.
Number of the Night: +8 rebound margin
Against the top team in the conference in offensive rebounding percentages, the Hoosiers were able to dominate the glass, which largely started in the first half when they outrebounded Illinois 20-12. With a great effort on the boards, the Hoosiers can’t be faulted for working aggressively under the rim.
The Hoosiers finished with 39 rebounds and the Fighting Illini with 31.
Source: Illinois Athletics
Next Up: Minnesota
The Hoosiers will close out the 2019-2020 regular season with two home games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. They will take on the 13-14 Minnesota Golden Gophers next on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EST. You can catch that broadcast on BTN.
Tickets and the full schedule can be found on our Indiana Basketball schedule page.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ