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Cockburn leads No. 12 Illinois past Northwestern 81-56

Illinois' amazing second half led to a blowout of the Wildcats
Credit: AP
Illinois center Kofi Cockburn shoots against Northwestern during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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.

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