Wed, 01 Dec 2021

Kofi Cockburn delivered a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double Tuesday night to lead No. 14 Illinois past Kansas State 72-64 for third place in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.

Playing just his second game of the season after being suspended for the first three by the NCAA, Cockburn hit 8 of 10 shots from the field, including a fall-away 15-footer with 1:27 left in the game that gave the Fighting Illini (3-2) a 71-62 lead.

Utah transfer Alfonso Plummer came off the bench to can seven 3-pointers, one shy of the Illinois single-game record, and score 21 points. The Illini sank 12 of 26 from the arc after making a pitiful 3 of 22 Monday night in a 71-51 defeat to Cincinnati.

Markquis Nowell scored 19 points to lead the Wildcats (2-2), going 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. Nijel Pack chipped in 15 and Ismael Massoud added 13 points, but Kansas State struggled to consistently make shots.

The Wildcats made only 38.5 percent from the field, including 6 of 21 from 3-point range. They were able to stay in the game because of a 23-3 advantage in points off turnovers. Kansas State had just four turnovers to Illinois' 18.

Illinois looked to establish Cockburn early, much as it did Monday night when he scored 12 points in the first eight minutes before its offense collapsed. He scored seven points in the first 3:12 as the Illini took a 13-7 lead.

But Cockburn and the Illinois offense again experienced inconsistencies after a quick start. There was a drought of more than five minutes without a field goal while Kansas State rattled off a 9-1 run for a 16-14 edge at the 10:50 mark following a 3-pointer by Nowell.

However, Plummer got hot from the arc, drilling three straight 3-pointers in less than two minutes to put the Illini back in front. But the Wildcats had the final say, with Mike McGuirl canning a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining to pull them within 34-31 at halftime.

--Field Level Media

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