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Thursday’s college basketball: Dosunmu, Curbelo lead No. 8 Illinois past Chicago State

Associated Press

Champaign, Ill. — Ayo Dosunmu scored 22 points, freshman Andres Curbelo added 18 and No. 8 Illinois beat Chicago State 97-38 on Thursday.

The Illini (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) never trailed in the game, scoring the first nine points and leading 47-17 at halftime. Big man Kofi Cockburn had 13 points and 5 rebounds at the break.

Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) shoots as Chicago State's forward Carlo Marble (10) defends during the second half.

Adam Miller scored 15 points and Cockburn finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was Cockburn’s 14th double-double in 34 career games and his second consecutive one. He had one more rebound than the entire Chicago State team did.

Illinois shot 36 of 60 (60%) from the field and 7 of 18 (39%) from 3-point range.

Xavier Johnson led Chicago State (0-2, 0-0 Western Athletic Conference) with 10 points and Jordan Polynice had nine.

Illinois used its huge rebounding edge (55-10) to fuel its running game.

“Definitely rebounding is key and will be through the end of the season,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “It gives us that ability to get the break and run.”

Underwood was particularly impressed with Cockburn’s play under the basket.

“Kofi puts on a lot of pressure in front of the rim and that leads to a lot of fouls on the other guys,” Underwood said.

Said the 7-foot-1 sophomore from Jamaica: “I just go out there and do what I have to do. I just need to go out there and do it every day.”

Illinois senior guard Trent Frazier, the team’s leader on the court, can get hot offensively and has been known to rain down 3-pointers on opponents. But his main claim to fame is his smothering defense, considered among the best in the Big Ten.

Thursday was no exception.

“These first few games are for playing time and gaining confidence,” Frazier said. “I think we were all on the same page out there today. Defense is something we work hard on.”

The tournament hasn’t been productive for Chicago State, a last-minute addition to the four-team tournament when Wright State pulled out due to COVID-19 concerns. Ohio beat the Cougars 86-61 on Wednesday.

Chicago State coach Lance Irvin has opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Assistant Rodell Davis is coaching the team in Irvin’s absence.

“I think this helps us moving forward into conference play,” Davis said.

Underwood’s game plan focused on forcing the ball inside after his team hit a program-record 17 3-pointers on Wednesday in a 122-60 rout of North Carolina A&T.

It worked. Illinois scored 52 points in the paint on Thursday, many of them on dunks and layups after beating the Cougars’ defense.

While this four-team nonconference tournament is a good way to gauge Illinois’ talent and deep bench, two blowout wins do little to move the needle for the Illini. The first test will be facing a fairly good Ohio team in Friday’s game. A misstep at this point could cost the Illini its top-10 ranking.

More Big Ten

Nevada 69, (at) Nebraska 66: Grant Sherfield hit a 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining to lift Nevada.

Sherfield, a Wichita State transfer, tied it with two free throws with 43 seconds left then made the long 3-pointer following a steal by Brown transfer Desmond Cambridge. Dalano Banton missed a 3-point try as time ran out.

Sherfield scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half while Cambridge had 16 of his 18 points in the first half, including a run of 13 straight points that helped put Nevada (2-0) up 35-29 at the break.

Nebraska (1-1) rallied to take a 10-point edge in the second half after a 14-2 run with seven points from Kobe Webster. But after that run ended Nevada responded with a 17-3 surge, including all eight of K.J. Hymes’ points, to lead 62-58 with 31/2 minutes to go.

Banton finished with 18 points, Teddy Allen had 17 points plus five of Nebraska’s 12 steals. Webster added 13 points for the Cornhuskers, who shot only 29% and were just 9 of 41 from the arc but scored 20 points off 21 turnovers.

Clemson 81, Purdue 70: Aamir Simms scored 24 points, Nick Honor added 17 points and a career-high four steals and Clemson beat Purdue 81-70 to win the four-team Space Coast Challenge in Melbourne, Fla.

Jonathan Baehre scored 11 for Clemson (2-0) and Al-Amir Dawes added 10. The Tigers, who held Mississippi State to 42 points on Wednesday, forced 22 Purdue turnovers – including 13 Clemson steals.

Zach Edey had 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Purdue (1-1). Isaiah Thompson and Brandon Newman added 15 points apiece.

Baehre hit a 3-pointer and then a jumper to spark a 10-0 run that made it 58-48 when Dawes made a jumper with 9:02 left. Newman answered with a 3 to pull the Boilermakers within seven but they got no closer.

Freshman Jaden Ivey did not play for Purdue. The 6-foot-4 guard scored 12 points, but injured his right foot in Wednesday’s 77-64 win over Liberty.

Simms, who averaged 13.0 points and 7.2 rebounds as a junior last season, played just eight minutes before he fouled out with just four points on 1-of-5 shooting and one rebound in a win over Mississippi State on Wednesday.

Baehre, a 6-foot-10 senior, transferred from UNC-Asheville following 28-point, 14-rebound performance in the Bulldogs’ season-ending loss to Southern California in the first round of the 2018 NIT. After suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in May of 2019 with Clemson, Baehre played in just two games last season before re-tearing the same ACL last February.

Purdue was not ranked in the AP preseason Top 25 poll for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Top 25

No. 1 Gonzaga 102, No. 6 Kansas 90: Drew Timme scored 25 points, Jalen Suggs added 24 and Corey Kispert had 23 to help No. 1 Gonzaga beat No. 6 Kansas 102-90 on Thursday in the season opener for both teams.

The Bulldogs built a double-digit lead in the first half at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, then saw the Jayhawks tie it twice in the second half before putting them away. Gonzaga went on a 22-7 run to go up 96-78.

Suggs, who got in foul trouble in the first half, scored 17 of his 24 in the second half.

Marcus Garrett led Kansas with 22 points, and Ochai Agbaji added 17 points. Agbai picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half, which hurt the Jayhawks. When he left, Kansas trailed 70-67.

The Jayhawks rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half to tie it at 57.

On Friday, Gonzaga will play Auburn, and Kansas will face St. Joseph’s.

No. 15 West Virginia 78, VCU 66: Derek Culver had 23 points and 15 rebounds to help No. 15 West Virginia beat VCU 78-66 in the Bad Boys Mowers Crossover Classic semifinals in Sioux Falls, S.D.

West Virginia (2-0) will face Western Kentucky in the final Friday.

Culver rebounded from a seven-point game Wednesday night in the Mountaineers’ opening victory over South Dakota State, finishing two shy of his career high. He was 8-of-14 from the field.

Sean McNeil added 16 points, and Oscar Tshiebwe had 11 points and 16 rebounds.

Nah’Shon Hyland led the Rams (1-1) with 13 points.

State

Toledo 80, Oakland 53: Spencer Littleson had 24 points, making 8 of 11 3-pointers, and Toledo beat Oakland.

Ryan Rollins had 17 points for Toledo (1-1). Marreon Jackson added 12 points and eight assists, and Setric Millner Jr. had 11 points and nine rebounds.

Jalen Moore had 16 points for the Golden Grizzlies (0-2). Daniel Oladapo added 11 points.