Illini rejoice after first Braggin’ Rights win since 2017

Sports

WCIA — Heading into the postgame press conference room to speak with media, Illinois center Kofi Cockburn spoke for an entire fanbase as he carried the Braggin’ Rights Trophy along with him.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” said the Illini center.

Illinois ended Mizzou’s three-game winning streak in the series with one of the most dominant performances since the game started. Illini fans turned St. Louis orange and blue, almost literally as plenty made the trip to the neutral site in anticipation, and Brad Underwood’s team made sure they gave their fans a show.

The Illini went on two different runs of ten points or more, blowing the game open before the Tigers closed down the stretch. 25 points is the third largest win in Braggin’ Rights history.

“Me and [DaMonte Williams] had a talk before this game, it was one of those asterisk games on our schedule,” says Trent Frazier. “We had to bring it back to Champaign this year. Like you said, it was our last time, last opportunity to bring the trophy back. It was special to be out there tonight.”

“We understand how important this game is to our fanbase,” says Underwood. “The name of the game is exactly right, Braggin’ Rights. It’s such a unique event.”

Cockburn led the way for the Illini with 25 points and 14 rebounds, his fifth straight double-double. Mizzou could not find an answer for the big man, who had his way in the paint. One flying dunk in particular sent the Enterprise Center into a frenzy, but it’s just one of the things the Illini are used to seeing from Cockburn at this point.

“Everybody sees his power and his aggression and his, almost violence sometimes he’s plays with at the basket. How athletic was that dunk?” says Underwood. “He does something every day where you just go, ‘Oh. Okay, glad he’s on our team because no one else can do that.'”

“It was incredible. Just the momentum that we had, it was just adrenaline I think coming down the middle,” says Cockburn. “It felt really good, I enjoyed it in the moment. There’s going to be a lot more of those.”

The Illini will head home for Christmas before next Wednesday welcoming Florida A&M to Champaign for its final non-conference game.

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