Illini move back into Top 25, Kofi Cockburn named co-Big Ten Player of the Week

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CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — For the first time since the Nov. 22 poll was released, Illinois basketball is back in the Associated Press Top 25, checking in at No. 25. The Illini (11-3, 4-0) won twice last week, beating Minnesota on the road and Maryland at home, marking the fourth straight victory and ninth win in the last 10 games.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood says he doesn’t spend much time worrying about the rankings, rather focusing on what he can control, his team and the analytics behind their improvement on the court.

“You start looking at some of these teams and who they’ve played and they’re 7-0 against Quad 4’s and they’ve got these daunty records, I don’t care, it’s all going to play out,” Underwood said. “If we get ranked, we get ranked. If not, let’s just keep flying under the radar and don’t let anybody talk about us. Let them talk about all the other guys who are playing great, we’ll be fine.”

The Illini started the season ranked No. 10 in the country in the preseason poll, before moving up to 10th, then falling down to 14th before dropping out of the polls. One player who only continues to rise is Kofi Cockburn. The Illinois center was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 26 points and 14 rebounds last week. The 7-foot Jamaican is now fourth in the country in scoring at 22.5 points per game and third in rebounding, putting up an average of 12.5 per game.

Illinois hits the road Tuesday visiting Nebraska for a 7:30 p.m. tip at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Big Ten Network. The Huskers (6-10, 0-5) have still not won a Big Ten game this season, last in the league.

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