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No. 14 Illini Hold Off K-State in Hall of Fame Classic – CBS Chicago

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) –Kofi Cockburn missed the first three games of the season for Illinois for breaking NCAA rules, and Alfonso Plummer might as well have missed them given how his normally reliable shot continued to bounce back.

Both made their presence known on Tuesday evening.

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Cockburn made his way to 23 points and 13 rebounds in his second comeback, and Plummer scored seven 3-pointers and added 21 points as No.14 Illini held off Kansas State 72-64 in the Hall of Fame Classic consolation match. .

Plummer finished 7 of 9 beyond the arc, and the Illini (3-2) went 12 of 26 of 3 as a team, as they rebounded from a 71-51 loss to Cincinnati in the semifinals. to avoid their third consecutive defeat. .

“The coach gave us a good message – he was right. He said, “If life hits you, the weak will back down. They are going to stop, ”Plummer said. “The strong will react. They will find a way to answer. They will find a way to learn from their mistakes and keep fighting. That’s why they call us the Fightin ‘Illini. We will always fight.

Tuesday night’s win came at a cost, however: Trent Frazier, who scored 23 points against Marquette but was held scoreless by the Bearcats, injured his left knee midway through the second half. The Illini goalkeeper was 0 of 5 on the pitch but had five assists when he was helped to the locker room by a pair of coaches.

“I don’t have anything yet,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood.

Markquis Nowell scored 19 points and Nijel Pack had 15 for the Wildcats (2-2), who made just four turnovers for the entire game. Ismael Massoud added 13 points after going 0 for everything against Arkansas in the semifinals.

“They made a few more plays than us and we couldn’t get back into the game. It’s just how it goes sometimes, ”Massoud said. “We have to learn from it. Try to improve yourself every day.

There was a lot of subplot about the first reunion of Illinois and the state of Kansas in 21 years.

Underwood grew up in McPherson, Kansas, and played two seasons for the Wildcats under Jack Hartman. Underwood then returned to Manhattan to spend six seasons as an assistant to Bob Huggins and Frank Martin.

One of his assistants, former Illinois goaltender Chester Frazier, spent six seasons with Bruce Weber at Kansas State.

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As for Weber, he spent nine seasons coaching the Illini, leading them to two Big Ten titles and the national championship game in 2005. The Illini have not won a regular-season conference championship since his departure.

There was also Kansas State goalie Mark Smith, who started his career in Illinois before a pitstop in Missouri, which makes him doubly hated by the loyal orange-clad Illini. But he ignored their boos to score a few baskets early and distribute a few assists, helping the slow-starting Wildcats stay in 34-31 at halftime.

They briefly took the 42-41 advantage before Massoud and Mike McGuirl had back-to-back lay-ins. Plummer hit a 3 on the other end to put Illinois back in the lead, and he eventually moved up to 50-42 with 10 minutes left.

When Pack scored a 3 point for the Wildcats, Plummer was there to respond with another for the Illini. His sixth 3 pushed the lead to 62-49, the game’s biggest, and Plummer added a late one for good measure.

“I knew I was a bit behind at the start of the season,” he said, “so I had to find a way to help the team. I was working overtime in the gym. Did the first one, I felt like I was back. I had that confidence. I’m glad it happened.

Take it away

Illinois was still not complete even before Frazier was injured. Andre Curbelo remained slowed down by the concussion he suffered earlier this year, finishing with six points and seven assists playing just 20 minutes.

“We haven’t been together for a very, very long time, and you know, when it’s key pieces, you’re talking about one of the Big Ten’s elite full-backs who wasn’t part of it during the critical time, ”says Underwood. “We have to be healthy. “

Kansas State forced the Illini to make 17 turnovers and turned them into 23 points, while Illinois forced just four turnovers that led to three points. This disparity was the main reason the Wildcats were able to mount a challenge.


The Illini play in Rio Grande Valley on Friday night. The Wildcats face North Dakota on Sunday.

NO MORE NEWS: Weather in Chicago: more clouds, windy conditions Wednesday

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