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IU basketball game day preview: Hoosiers return to action in rematch vs. No. 12 Illinois

Coming off a nine-day layoff, Indiana will face a major home court challenge on Tuesday night.

Losers of two-straight conference games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Indiana will look to get right at home as it welcomes No. 12 Illinois to Bloomington for a rematch.  But the Illini’s potent inside-out dynamic duo of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn will present a major challenge.

Fresh off a Friday night win over Iowa, Illinois is hitting the road for the first time in nearly a month.  They will be looking for their first win in Bloomington in more than a decade.

It is the Hoosiers and Illini in the primetime ESPN slot on Tuesday night.


GAME DAY ESSENTIALS

No. 12 Illinois (11-5, 7-3) at Indiana (9-7, 4-5)

  • Tip time:  Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
  • Television:  ESPN (Dave Flemming and Dan Dakich)
  • IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, Joe Smith)
  • Series:  Indiana leads 93-89 (Illinois won last meeting 69-60 in Dec. 2020)
  • Point Spread:  Illinois is a 2.5-point favorite
  • KenPom has No. 7 Illinois by 2 points over No. 27 Indiana

Illinois is led by Brad Underwood.  Now in his fourth season in Champaign, he has a 58-54 record leading Illinois.

See also:  


MEET THE FIGHTING ILLINI

Take a look at Illinois’ probable starters, key contributors and statistical leaders.  The Illini have replaced Da’Monte Williams in the starting lineup with Jacob Grandison since the first meeting.

Via Illinois Athletics

Illinois is on the road for the first time since Jan. 7, playing at Indiana Tuesday night.  They played four-straight home games from Jan. 10-29 due to a pair of road-game postponements.  Illinois has lost seven straight at Indiana, looking for its first win in Bloomington since 2010.

Similar to Indiana, Illinois returned to action for its first game in 10 days last Friday, defeating Iowa to record its fifth Quad 1 of the season.

Illinois has the KenPom.com No. 7 ranked offense and No. 18 ranked defense.  The offense is fueled by effective shooting both inside and out.  The Illini convert on 56.1 of their 2-point attempts (No. 17) and 39.9 percent of their 3-point attempts (No. 8).  On the defensive end, Illinois is allowing makes on just 44.3 of 2-point attempts (No. 22) while only allowing a 22.8 percent offensive rebounding rate (No. 23).

Leading the Illini is reigning Big ten Player of the Week and first-team All-America contender Ayo Dosunmu. Owning numbers of 21.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game, Dosunmu is one of only two players nationally averaging at least 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.  Dosunmu is on pace to become just the third Big Ten player since 1993 to average 20 points, six rebounds and four assists, joining two Conference Players of the Year in Indiana’s Brian Evans (1995-96) and Ohio State’s Evan Turner (2009-10).  The nation’s No. 5 leading scorer at 21.9 points per game, Dosunmu owns the highest scoring average by an Illini since Nick Weatherspoon in 1973 (25.0 ppg).

Kofi Cockburn rounds out a potent one-two punch for Illinois.  He leads the NCAA with 11 double-doubles this season, and he has posted double-doubles in eight of 10 Big Ten games, averaging 18.6 points and 11.1 rebounds during league play.  At 16.9 ppg and 10.3 rpg, Cockburn is one of 19 players nationally – and one of just three from the high-major conferences – currently averaging a double-double. He is on pace to become the first Illini player since Weatherspoon in 1973 (25.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg) to average a double-double for an entire season.

Since going scoreless against Maryland on Jan. 10, senior Trent Frazier is averaging 15.0 points (45) and shooting 42.9% from 3-point range (9-21) over the last three games.

Freshman Andre Curbelo ranks second in the Big Ten in assists during league play at 5.7 apg. He is averaging 4.6 assists on the season, currently ranking fourth on the school’s all-time freshman assists chart behind Bruce Douglas, Derek Harper and Dee Brown.

Junior Jacob Grandison has scored 22 points over the last three games after totaling 29 points through this season’s first 13 games.

Da’Monte Williams leads the nation in 3-point shooting (min. 30 attempts), connecting on 22-of-37 for 59.5%.

Since scoring a season-low 63 points in the Maryland loss, Illinois is averaging 80.0 points over the last three games (240).

UNDERWOOD PREVIEWS THE GAME

Watch Illinois head coach Brad Underwood’s media availability on Monday as he gives an update on his team and previews Indiana.

MILLER CONCERNED ABOUT ILLINOIS STARS

It looked like IU might pull off an upset when the teams met on Dec. 26 in Champaign.  But Illinois scored 16 points over roughly four-minute stretch in the second half that turned a 49-44 IU lead into a 60-52 deficit. Dosunmu had 13 of his 30 during that decisive 16-3 second half Illinois run that turned the game.

Indiana coach Archie Miller was reminded during that span that there is no easy solution when it comes to slowing Dosunmu for 40 minutes.

“(Dosunmu) Shoots the ball extremely well in transition. In the half court with his size, and athleticism and talent he gets to the basket when he wants. And then he is a good reader of the defense. He makes good plays. He knows how teams are playing him, and their spacing is one of which he knows exactly where his reads are to make his outlets and his passes. So, he is tough to contain,” Miller said of Dosunmu on Monday.

Much of the Illinois second half run was fueled by their transition offense.  Indiana failed to get back and find Dosunmu, who spotted up at the 3-point line for multiple late daggers.  As has been the case for most of the season, Miller is focused on limiting his team’s turnovers to limit transition action going the other direction.

“I think the biggest thing is our offense,” he said.  “Our offense has to not do what it did against Rutgers in the second half. And that will bury us, a lot like it did in the Rutgers game, it will bury us against Illinois. If you turn the ball over nine times in the second half, you are going to give a team of this caliber an opportunity to get out in transition where they thrive.”

The game plan for Illinois is more complex than just finding ways to slow down Dosunmu.  Cockburn presents a second All-Big Ten caliber performer who can make things difficult on both ends of the floor.

The 7-foot and 285 pound Cockburn’s paint presence forced IU big man Trayce Jackson-Davis into one of his worst games of the season in December.  And Miller expects the massive sophomore from Jamaica to be crowding the paint once again.

“It is difficult because he doesn’t come outside of around the basket regardless of who they play,” Miller said.  “I don’t necessarily know if our roster dictates if he is going to move around a ton. But he doesn’t move around a ton in any game even if you watched him play in the Iowa game, and he is guarding Luka Garza. Garza is as good of a 3-point shooting big that you will see in the entire country. In terms of how they play, he is not moving past 15 or 16 feet.”

In their loss to Rutgers, Indiana struggled to convert 2-point shots against center Myles Johnson.  Miller expects a similar defensive look from Illinois on Tuesday night.

“Everything is funneled to the rim,” Miller said of Cockburn.  “Everything is forced to practically make you shoot two-point shots. In the first game, he had a significant impact on Trayce in and around the basket. Very similar to the Rutgers game where two-point shots are hard to come by with him being in front.”

Rather than wasting time trying to move Cockburn out of the paint, Miller believes his team might have more success going right at him to draw fouls or pull him away from Jackson-Davis with dribble penetration.

“I think the unique thing for us is maybe not to move him around as much and to find the ability to play stronger at the basket,” Miller said.  “We have to find a way to generate free-throws. We have to find a way to generate, on our drives, second shot opportunities, earlier offensive transitions, easier post catches, and easier attacks to the paint when they are not set. It is something that they do a great job of it and we are going to have to be much better in game two in terms of our efficiency. We are going to have to find a way to get some easier baskets in transition off the glass and at the free throw line.”


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