Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:
It was a Saturday afternoon blowout for Illinois against St. Francis (Pa.), with the Illini putting together arguably their best overall offensive performance of the season. (Yes, the opponent clearly mattered in that regard). Here’s what caught my attention at a not quite full State Farm Center:
No sellout this time for Illinois after you couldn’t squeeze another person into the building a week prior for the Arizona game. The conclusion of finals and beginning of winter break, of course, meant the Orange Krush was mostly absent. That it was St. Francis as the opposition probably didn’t help either. Not quite the pull of a ranked Arizona squad. Even as the Illini put together a rout, it just really never got that loud.
Turns out Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk is still the guy that can get Kofi Cockburn the ball on post entry passes in the best position to score. Mostly because Bosmans-Verdonk doesn’t throw the ball at Cockburn’s feet. He keeps his passes high so Cockburn can keep the ball high and make one move for the score without having to put the ball on the floor.
Illinois set a new single-game record with 18 made three-pointers against St. Francis with eight different players splashing at least one from deep. Cockburn’s 21-point, 11-rebound double-double — his sixth double-double in eight games — got him into a tie for fifth all-time in program history with Dave Scholz with 34 for his career. Next up? Don Freeman’s 26, with Skip Thoren’s program record 41 in sight this season. Alfonso Plummer, meanwhile, had his streak of 20-point games snapped despite scoring 19 points in the first half. At six in a row, Plummer will go in the record book alongside Brian Cook and Nick Anderson for fourth all-time.
Quote of the game
The smaller Orange Krush contingent was mostly alums Saturday. The profanity was down, and the creativity was up. Particularly when it came to razzing St. Francis guard Luke Ruggery, who is generously listed at 5-foot-11 on the roster. The best one-line sent Ruggery’s direction? Easily … “Does your mom know you’re here?”
Stat of the game
Anything above 1.000 points per possession is seen as pretty good. Here’s how you piece together a 58-point victory, though. Illinois finished at 1.767 points per possession (elite), while St. Francis was at 0.814 (not ideal).
Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected], and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).