College Park, Maryland – The Maryland Terrapins upset the No. 3 team in the Big 10 conference as they topped Illinois 81-65. The Fighting Illini struggled without Kofi Cockburn’s dominance in the paint on both sides of the court. Cockburn was in concussion protocol after being injured against Purdue on Monday.
The Terps had a huge advantage in points in the paint (40-16), in fast break points (14-6) and in bench points (36-13). They kept Illinois scoreless in the last 2:39 of the game, as they went on an 11-1 run to close the game.
Illinois tried to find answers to Cockburn’s absence through high pick and roll offensive sets relying on 6-1 Alfonso Plummer’s quick release and range from behind the arc and 6-2 Trent Frazier’s aggressiveness and offensive skills as they ran Coach Underwood’s game plan. They were both very effective throughout the game, scoring 31 points out of Illinois’ 65 total points. Plummer showed excellent explosiveness and strength when fighting through screens to score 18 points, hitting 6-of-14 overall and 5-of-11 from behind the arc as a spot up or off the dribble shooter and added four rebounds.
Frazier also helped Illinois stay in the game by attacking the rim from the start through a continuous double stagger, scoring at will during the first half, putting 13 points on the board in the game (5-of-10) and (3-of-7 3s) coming off the screen from the three-point line. 6-6 Jacob Grandison also contributed, putting great effort on the offensive side, identifying Maryland’s defensive gaps, slashing to the basket or relocating for a few key triples. Grandison finished with 14 points (5-of-8 overall) and 2-of-5 from behind the arc.
6-8 forward Donta Scott had a big performance despite not being in the Terrapins starting lineup for tonight’s game. Scott was determined to not let this opportunity slip for Maryland, showing effectiveness in scoring and toughness on the boards. With no Cockburn in the paint, Scott took advantage of every situation involving a mismatch on both sides of the court against Illinois’ 6-3 guard Da’Monte Williams. Scott had a very efficient game finishing with 25 points (9-of-12), adding six rebounds and only one turnover. The 5-11 senior Fatts Russell also had a big night especially defensively. He put constant pressure on the Fighting Illini’s back court, holding Frazier scoreless in the last three minutes of the game while shooting 6-of-13 for 15 points and retrieving seven rebounds. Coming off the bench, the Terps had great contributions by 6-8 Hakim Hart with 10 points (2-of-4) and 6-of-6 from the free throw line, while Qudus Wahab was efficient scoring inside with 11 points (5-of-7) and four rebounds. Julian Reese contributed five rebounds and two clutch triples to keep the Terps in control of the game, helping to bring the victory for Maryland.
The Maryland Terrapins will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Tuesday at Jersey Mike’s Arena, while the Illinois Fighting Illini will host the top team in the Big Ten, the Michigan State Spartans also on Tuesday.