Illinois set to host No. 11 Arizona

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois Basketball is ready for their biggest test of the non-conference season, hosting No. 11 Arizona at the State Farm Center on Saturday. The Wildcats are undefeated this season, and the Illini will have to lock on down defense with the Wildcats shooting 49% from the field.

Illinois has started 2-0 in the Big Ten, while averaging 77.9 points per game. They’re coming off a 87-83 win over Iowa, where they out-rebounded the Hawkeyes 52-23. The team says that physical toughness has kept them in games this season.

“Keep holding guys to one shot. ‘One tough shot’, that’s our motto. You hold guys to one though shot, we get the rebound and we push,” says Illini center Kofi Cockburn. “Everybody getting after somebody, everybody hitting somebody. We’re a really physical team. And when you have every guy at the team being physical, boxing out and hitting guys, and crashing for the rebounds. We’re really good in transition so that plays a part.”

Back in 2019, the Illini were blown on 60-69 by the Wildcats in Tucson. in Tucson back in 2019. The two teams were supposed to play back in 2020, but it was pushed back to this season due to the pandemic. Head coach Brad Underwood says he’s looking forward to getting another high major opponent back in the State Farm Center.

“I think it’s one of the great travesties that happened in college basketball is we don’t play home and homes. Our fans deserve the opportunity to see us play really good games,” says Underwood. “And we’ve tried to do that here, since I’ve been here.”

“I love that. The exposure, the excitement of the game,” says Illinois guard Trent Frazier. “It’s fun to get out there, especially in our home arena. I’m super excited for that tomorrow.”

Tip-off is at 4 p.m. at the State Farm Center on FOX.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.