KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WCIA) — After pulling out to a 23-8 lead to begin the game, No. 14 Illinois (2-2) faltered to Cincinnati (5-0) en route to a 71-51 loss.
Junior Kofi Cockburn had the first six points of the game and 14 total before forcing a timeout from the Bearcats after eight minutes. That timeout changed the course of the game, and the Illini were outscored by 35 the rest of the way, limiting Cockburn to just 18 points total.
Cockburn faced more double and triple teams after that point, and only ended with 7 rebounds. Sophomore Andre Curbelo got off to a nice start as well, grabbing eight points in those first eight minutes. But just like the returning big man, he was limited the rest of the way and ended with just 12. Senior Trent Frazier had an off night entirely, scoring no points and going 0-for-9 from the field.
“Give them a lot of credit,” said head coach Brad Underwood after the game. “I think we’re number two or number one in the country defensively. We were fine for eight minutes, and then we forget what it’s like to play hard on that end.”
Austin Hutcherson made his much-anticipated Illini debut after spending two season on the bench, one for NCAA transfer rules and another for a back injury.
The Illini will now take on either Arkansas or Kansas State Tuesday in the early game of the Hall of Fame Classic. Tip-off will be 6 p.m.