Rebounding Leads Illinois Past The Citadel 85-57
The Fighting Illini men's basketball team improved to 4-1 on the season with an 85-57 win over The Citadel Wednesday night in Champaign.
Kofi Cockburn tallied another double-double, scoring 18 points and setting the all-time Illini freshman record with 17 rebounds.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Ayo Dosunmu each added 16 points for Illinois, and Bezhanishvili and Da'Monte Williams each grabbed an additional 9 rebounds.
Cockburn and Bezhanishvili laughed afterward about which of them would achieve the night's top rebounding prize.
“While coach was putting me in the game to get the last rebound, I told him that Giorgi’s really close to his double-double," Cockburn said." But he still told me to go in, so that’s my respect for Giorgi, always looking out for each other.”
In total, the Illini outrebounded the visiting Bulldogs by a 55-35 margin. Head coach Brad Underwood credited assistants Chin Coleman and Orlando Antigua for emphasizing rebounding during team practices.
“Chin Coleman handles the offensive side of it," Underwood said. "Chin’s on those guys every single day about offensive rebounding, and then Orlando (Antigua) handles the defensive side of it, but we all emphasize it.”
The Illini had a lot of rebounding opportunities with The Citadel shooting just 28 percent (21-74) from the field. Illinois fared a little better with 49 percent (33-68) field goal shooting. Both teams took pretty good care of the basketball, as Illinois committed just 13 turnovers and the Bulldogs lost the ball 11 times.
The Citadel was led by Kaelon Harris with 19 points. The Bulldogs are now 1-4 on the season.
The Illini return to action Saturday night at home against Hampton. That game tips at 7 pm.
The old freshman rebounding record of 16 was achieved by Deon Thomas at Memphis on December 29, 1990; and Damir Krupalija on January 3, 1999 at Indiana.
Rob McColley is a contributor for Illinois Public Media, covering University of Illinois sports. You can follow him on Twitter @IlliniReport.