Saturday's Big Ten: Cockburn returns, No. 24 Illini down Northwestern

Associated Press

Evanston, Ill. — Kofi Cockburn returned from a concussion and scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead No. 24 Illinois to a 59-56 victory over Northwestern on Saturday.

Cockburn was effective, hitting 10 of 17 shots, but his teammates combined for a dismal 12-of-34 shooting clip, allowing the Wildcats to hang around despite going 20 of 56 from the field and 6 of 18 from 3-point range.

Illinois center Kofi Cockburn, left, dunks against Northwestern forward Robbie Beran.

Northwestern took its first lead on a 3 from Ty Berry with 14:35 to play. The Wildcats worked their way to a six-point cushion on Elyjah Williams’ three-point play with 8:09 to play, but Illinois (15-5, 8-2 Big Ten) turned to Cockburn down the stretch and he scored 14 points in the second half, going 6 of 9 from the field.

Cockburn tied the game with a short bucket with 2:25 to play. After a stop, he went up for another layup and missed, but Illini guard Da’Monte Williams' follow dunk gave Illinois a 55-53 lead with 1:34 to play.

The Wildcats made just 4 of their last 11 shots, and Illinois went 4 of 6 at the free throw line to close out the game.

No other Illinois players reached double figures, as Alfonso Plummer went 2 of 6 to finish with nine points.

Pete Nance led Northwestern (9-10, 2-8 Big Ten) with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go along with five rebounds, while Boo Buie added nine points and Berry finished with eight points.

The Wildcats struggled offensively, particularly in the first half, going 6 of 26 (23%) from the floor. The Illini returned the favor though, going 1 of 8 over the last five minutes of the half to take a 24-19 lead into the break.

►Indiana 68, Maryland 55: Race Thompson finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 17 with nine boards and Indiana rolled to a 68-55 victory over Maryland on Saturday.

Thompson and Jackson-Davis both made 7 of 12 shots from the floor for the Hoosiers (16-5, 7-4 Big Ten Conference). Thompson hit both of his 3-point tries and notched his fourth double-double of the season.

Hakim Hart finished with 15 points to lead the Terrapins Maryland (11-10, 3-7). Qudus Wahab pitched in with 12 points and eight rebounds. Fatts Russell scored 12, but he made just 3 of 12 shots, including 1 of 5 from distance. Ayala, the Terrapins' leading scorer at 16.3 point per game, was held to six points. 

►Rutgers 63, (at) Nebraska 61: Geo Baker scored eight of his 14 points in the final 5-plus minutes, Mawot Mag had 13 points on perfect shooting and Rutgers rallied from an 11-point deficit, handing the Cornhuskers their eighth consecutive loss.

Baker was called for a foul as Kobe Webster shot a potential tying 3-point shot with 0.9 seconds left but Webster missed the first free throw, made the second and then intentionally missed the third – an air ball, which gave possession to the Scarlet Knights, who ran out the clock.

Baker scored the first six points in a 9-2 spurt that pulled Rutgers within a point when Ron Harper Jr. – who had been 0-for-8 shooting, hit a 3-pointer with 3:54 to play. Mag and Nebraska’s Trey McGowens traded 3s before Bryce McGowens made two free throws to give Nebraska a 60-57 lead about 70 seconds later but Baker answered with a contested fade-away jumper in the lane. After the Cornhuskers missed a 3-point shot, Baker missed a straight-away 3 but Paul Mulcahy grabbed the offensive rebound and scored in the lane to give Rutgers its first lead at 61-60 with 1:32 left.

Nebraska went 0 for 3 from the field and 1 for 3 from the free-throw line with a turnover from there.

Mag went 4 of 4 from the field – including his first made 3-pointer of the season – and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line and Mulcahy finished with 10 points for Rutgers (12-8, 6-4 Big Ten). Clifford Omoruyi added eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Bryce McGowens went 14 of 18 from the free-throw line and finished with 29 points for Nebraska (6-15, 0-10). Trey McGowens hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points before fouling out with 10 seconds left.

The Cornhuskers used an 11-1 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 31-20 late in the first half and led by eight points with 6 minutes to play.

Rutgers plays at Northwestern on Monday before returning home for games against No. 10 Michigan State and No. 16 Ohio State.

Nebraska hits the road to play Michigan on Monday. The Cornhuskers have lost 16 straight against high-major opponents.