EVANSTON, Ill. — Kofi Cockburn scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half, and No. 12 Illinois rallied to beat Northwestern 81-56 on Thursday night.
Cockburn also had 12 rebounds in his eighth double-double of the season, asserting himself in the middle after Illinois (9-3, 5-1 Big Ten) got off to a rough start. Ayo Dosunmu added 15 points, and Trent Frazier and Adam Miller each scored 14.
Illinois trailed by as many as 16 — it was so ugly that coach Brad Underwood yelled “What are we doing?” at his team during a first-half timeout — before completely overwhelming Northwestern (6-4, 3-3) in its fourth straight win.
Robbie Beran scored 11 points for the Wildcats in their third consecutive loss.
Northwestern closed the first half with a 12-1 run for a 43-28 lead at the break. But the Wildcats looked tired down the stretch of their fourth straight game against a Top 25 team.
After a 3-pointer by Beran made it 48-41 with 14:19 left, the Illini grabbed control with a 25-2 run. Miller capped the decisive stretch with a 3 that made it 66-50 with 5:36 remaining.
Northwestern shot just 2 for 24 and committed nine turnovers in the second half. Illinois went 19 for 32 after halftime.
Illinois: The Illini earned their fifth straight win in the series against the Wildcats. Once Cockburn got going inside, it was all over.
Northwestern: The Wildcats just fell apart in the second half. They shot 33% (18 for 55) for the game.
Illinois: Hosts Maryland on Sunday night.
Northwestern: Visits Ohio State on Wednesday. The Wildcats beat the Buckeyes 71-70 on Dec. 26.