EVANSTON (WCIA) — The secret to Alan Griffin’s success Thursday night? His pregame meal.
The Illini sophomore said he ate chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, fueling him to a career high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, as Illinois beat Northwestern 74-66 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“I didn’t get too high in the middle of the game,” Griffin said. “I celebrated but in my mind I was still focused and ready to get stops and head back on the other head. I’m going to approach every game with the same mindset like this.”
Griffin said he’s not changing his pregame meal anytime soon after it felt like he couldn’t miss in the second half. The New York native had a stretch where he made six out of seven 3-pointers in an eight minute stretch, before checking out of the game with 5:03 to play.
“We see that all the time in practice and we forget that Alan is a sophomore who hasn’t been in those moments a lot,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “That’s growth, to be able to ride that hot hand.”
Ayo Dosunmu added 21 points, along with Kofi Cockburn’s 12 points and 14 rebounds. It’s the 12th double-double for the Illini freshman this season, extending his program record for freshman he’s already set. But the 7-foot center left most impressed with his teammate’s breakout performance.
“I expected it for a while now,” Cockburn said about Griffin. “I really love Alan. I played with him in high school, played against him and I knew what kind of player he is, and just be the kind of player you know you are.”
Illinois is now tied with Maryland at the top of the Big Ten with five conference road wins. The Illini return home Sunday hosting Indiana, the Hoosiers lost at Purdue Thursday night 57-49.