Sat, 22 Jan 2022

Illinois demolishes Rutgers in Big Ten opener

Field Level Media
04 Dec 2021, 12:40 GMT+10

Alfonso Plummer scored a game-high 24 points Friday night as Illinois cruised to an 86-51 win over Rutgers in the Big Ten opener for both schools at Champaign, Ill.

Kofi Cockburn (13 points, 15 rebounds) posted a double-double while Jacob Grandison scored 16 points off the bench for Illinois (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten).

The Fighting Illini won despite the absence of Andre Curbelo, who was sidelined for a third straight game due to a head injury.

Jaden Jones scored 10 points and was the lone player to get into double figures for Rutgers (4-4, 0-1), which was without star guard Geo Baker for a third straight game due to a leg injury.

The Scarlet Knights dropped their conference opener for the seventh time in eight seasons as a Big Ten member.

Rutgers' only leads were at 3-2 and 5-2 before Grandison scored 10 points in a 30-8 run that gave Illinois a 32-13 lead. Plummer had seven points in the surge, including the 3-pointer that put the Fighting Illini up double digits at 18-7 for the first time.

Rutgers was just 3 of 15 with four turnovers during Illinois' decisive run. The Fighting Illini limited the Scarlet Knights to 29 percent shooting (9-for-31) in the first half, during which the hosts produced a 23-14 rebounding edge.

Illinois led 43-23 at the half. Rutgers climbed within 18 points three times before the Illini mounted another big run, this one a 22-7 spurt. A layup by Coleman Hawkins gave the Fighting Illini their first 30-point lead at 68-37 with 10:59 left.

Nine players ended up scoring for Illinois, which opened up a trio of 35-point leads down the stretch.

The task gets no easier for Rutgers on Thursday when it plays host to No. 2 Purdue. Illinois plays at Iowa on Monday.

--Field Level Media

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