Illinois takes down #5 Michigan, 71-62

Freshman Kofi Cockburn had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead Illinois to a 71-62 upset over No. 5 Michigan Wednesday at State Farm Center. 

“He’s very strong on the inside,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. Very physical guy and one of the best offensive rebounders in NCAA basketball.”

Cockburn dominated from the opening tip, making two dunks that brought the crowd to its feet.

“I’m really proud of my team, my guys,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “As difficult as Saturday was (against Maryland), they proved they can handle themselves. This was Big Ten basketball at its finest. It was a good game, a real smash-mouth basketball game.”

Ayo Dosunmu added 14 points, Andres Feliz had 13 and Giorgi Bezhanishvili 12 for Illinois (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten).

“We closed this one out, but it was close, I mean we went from 12 up to four up in the blink of an eye. Underwood said. “We’re right there in the conference. It’s just going to be that kind of a year.”

Jon Teske scored 16 points for Michigan (8-3, 1-1). Eli Brooks and Isaiah Livers each scored 12 points.

With about four minutes left in the game, Cockburn hit a basket and was fouled. While celebrating, he inadvertently hit referee Lewis Garrison in the head and knocked him unconscious. Illinois spokesman Derrick Burson said Garrison was cleared on site by our doctors and taken to a hospital as a precaution.

“I’m a really emotional guy,” Cockburn said. We’ve lost the last couple of close games and that just me being passionate, I hit him and I feel bad. I went and told him after the game that I was sorry. He didn’t seem mad at me.”

After close losses to Miami and No. 3 Maryland, in which the lIlini had the ball and a chance to win both, they showed they could close out a good team.