Cockburn Powers Illinois Past Hawaii 66-53
The Fighting Illini men's basketball team overcame a sluggish first half to cruise past the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii 66-53 Monday night in Champaign.
After playing to a 26-26 tie in the first twenty minutes, Illinois was able to pull away late for the victory to improve to 3-1 on the season.
Freshman center Kofi Cockburn tallied his third double-double in four games, with 15 points and 14 rebounds. But in the first half, Cockburn was able to convert only 1-7 field goal attempts, many from point-blank range.
He credited his teammates for calming him down at halftime.
"I went to the locker room, and kind of had my head down," Cockburn said. "They picked me up, motivated me, told me what to do, told me to slow down. They're always there for me, and I appreciate that."
Trent Frazier added 13 points for the Illini, but made his biggest impression at the defensive end, where he held the Rainbow Warriors' Eddie Stansberry to 10 points, which is half his average.
"Coach says, 'run him off the (three-point) line,' I try to do that. 'Contest his shot every time,' I do that," Frazier said. "It starts on the defensive end. I try to bring that energy for these guys. Communicating, getting stops, just playing hard every possession."
Head coach Brad Underwood praised his team for holding Hawaii to 3-of-22 shooting from three-point range. He said Frazier's defensive evolution is the product of learning how to execute a scouting report.
"Maybe as good as we have at not just knowing what he's supposed to do, but what everybody's supposed to do," Underwood said. "We quiz our guys on scouting reports, and Trent's never wrong, and he's got that knack to see it before it happens."
Giorgi Bezhanishvili missed a double-double by a single rebound. He finished with ten points. The Illini outrebounded Hawaii 44-26, and allowed only three attempted free throws versus 23 for the home team.
Zigmars Raimo led the visitors with 16 points and 6 rebounds in what was an unusual continental trip for Hawaii. This was the only game for the Rainbow Warriors before they head back to O'ahu.
Illinois had a week off before Monday's game. Now they have a quick turnaround. The Illini play The Citadel Wednesday night in Champaign in a game that tips off at 8:00pm.
Rob McColley is an Illinois Public Media contributor, covering University of Illinois sports. Follow him on Twitter @IlliniReport.