It was the battle of top tier big men within not just the Big Ten, but the country, as Indiana welcomed No. 18 Illinois to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Kofi Cockburn and Trayce Jackson-Davis went toe-to-toe for the sixth time in their careers. It was the Fighting Illini who came out on top after a dominant second half performance as they won 74-57.
It was the same starting five for the Hoosiers are they welcomed No. 18 Illinois to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in a highly anticipated matchup on ESPN. Xavier Johnson, Parker Stewart, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis got things going for the Hoosiers.
It was a slow start for both teams offensively as Illinois started with turnover trouble and the Hoosiers began the game shooting just 1-for-4. Xavier Johnson got the Hoosiers on the board as he shook his defender and hitting the midrange jumper.
Parker Stewart came out firing from all distances and gave IU their first lead at 7-4 with just under 17-minutes remaining in the first half. Parker began the game 3-for-3 from the field with eight quick points.
With 15:44 remaining in the first half Jackson-Davis picked up his second foul on a questionable call that was met with an overwhelming groan from the IU crowd.
Insert Michael Durr.
Durr was the first Hoosier off the bench in replacement of TJD. These were the first minutes for the USF transfer since Indiana’s contest against Michigan.
Illinois star Kofi Cockburn started the game 1-for-5 in large part to Durr and the defense he was able to play down low. The size that Durr brings to the court was a tough matchup for the once Big Ten freshman of the year.
Race Thompson touched on just how hard it was to guard Cockburn in his post game presser, “You see him he is a big body down there. He is hard to get around, he is heavy, and he is strong.” Thompson mentioned he tried running circles around the Illinois big man on defense.
After another three from Stewart Indiana led 19-11 with 11:06 remaining in the first half.
Tamar Bates and Trey Galloway gave the Hoosiers much needed scoring option soff the bench in the first half. Bates finished the half with six points while Galloway had four.
Despite only shooting 2-for-7 from behind the arc in the first half the Hoosiers took a two-point lead going into the break, 36-34. Johnson led the IU in points (9), rebounds (5), and assists (1) while Stewart helped pitch in eight points.
Xavier Johnson came out for the second half ready to play. While the Pitt transfer did not hit a shot in the first five minutes, he did have three assists with zero turnovers to help Indiana stay ahead of No. 18 Illinois.
With just over 17-minutes remaining in the second half Jackson-Davis scored his first basket to give IU the lead, 40-38.
Back-to-back threes from Illinois gave the Fighting Illini their first lead of the game since the 17:23 mark when they lead 4-2, and now lead 48-46.
Illinois star Kofi Cockburn was always a man amongst boys but it really showed in the second half. Cockburn scored 12 points in the second half alone and helped Illinois grab their biggest lead of 17 points in the second half.
This one got out of hand fast in the second half as the Hoosiers shot just 8-27 with eight turnovers. The Fighting Illini outscored Indiana 40-21 in the second half and what was once a two-point lead turned into a 17-point loss after a huge collapse. Were there glimpses of good? Of course, but more glimpses of what Hoosier fans do no want to see as IU falls to No. 18 Illinois 74-57.
When asked about the game head coach Mike Woodson said, “They put a 40 minute game together and we put a 20 minute game together.”
The Hoosiers were led by Race Thompson with 13 points, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Thompson with six rebounds, and Xavier Johnson with five assists.
The Hoosiers travel to Northwestern to face off with the Wildcats on Tuesday Feb. 8 and 9:00 PM on BTN. It is the return game for Miller Kopp and the senior will be looking for his breakout game in his return to Northwestern.
Featured Image / Illinois Athletics