CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The last time Illinois appeared in the Associated Press men’s basketball poll was December 1st, 2014. That’s 1,869 days between appearances, when Illinois came in at #24 in Monday’s poll.
Illinois is on a three game winning streak, with all three wins coming against top-34 teams in the NET Rankings. That puts them at 4-2 in the conference, in sole possession of second. But there’s still a lot of basketball yet to be played.
“That’s exactly why it means nothing, we’ve got two thirds of the season left. We’ve got 14 games,” head coach Brad Underwood said. “The next one that’s going to be on our schedule is going to be just as hard as this one. So we’ve given ourselves a fighting chance.”
“I take those as tests to show us what to do in the next games. We lost two close games, two really close games that we should have won and now I feel like we’re more prepared and more confident going into these games and the next games because of that situation that we were put in,” Kofi Cockburn said. “I think that we’re the same team, we have the same mindset but we’re just more prepared now and more confident.”
Cockburn was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, again, on Monday. It’s the sixth win for Cockburn this season, setting the Illinois record. He averaged 13 points and 11.5 rebounds in the two Illini wins.