No. 5 Illinois Dominates Minnesota

Brendan Ross

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini defeated Minnesota convincingly Saturday afternoon 94-63. Illinois was led by the second triple-double in four games from junior Ayo Dosunmu (19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and 22 points and six rebounds from sophomore Kofi Cockburn.

The Illini jumped out to a strong start and took a 48-33 lead into the locker room at half time. Senior Trent Frazier capped off a 13-point first half with a half-court buzzer-beater to extend the Illinois lead before the break.

Illinois exploded out of halftime and never looked back, dominating in nearly every statistical category. Fastbreak points favored Illinois by a 31-8 margin, highlighted by numerous alley-oop dunks and flashy passes.

Senior Trent Frazier finished with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds while Jacob Grandison contributed twelve points, four assists and three rebounds of his own.

Gallery: (2-20-2021) Illinois at Minnesota – 2/20/2021


Dunks were plentiful Saturday, with the Illini hammering the rims at The Barn. Junior Giorgi Bezhanishvili converted on a beautiful pass from Dosunmu halfway through the second half, and freshman Coleman Hawkins got in on the dunk party to cap off the showcase late in the game.


Dosunmu and Cockburn continue to solidify themselves as one of the top duos in the nation. In addition to their strong stat lines, they were each efficient from the field (Dosunmu – 9-for-16, Cockburn – 9-for-12). Ayo added two steals and Kofi had a big block.


Illinois shot a season best 86.7% from the free-throw line (13-for-15) with Cockburn and Grandison each going 4-for-4. Frazier led the defensive effort with six steals, as Illinois forced the Gophers into18 turnovers.


Illinois is back in action on Tuesday, February 23 in East Lansing, Mich. taking on the Michigan State Spartans. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcasted on FS1.


• Illinois has won seven straight Big Ten games, matching its longest streak last season. 

• Illinois has won five consecutive road games during Big Ten play (at PSU, at NW, at IND, at NEB, at MINN), its best stretch since a school record 13-game Big Ten road winning streak from Feb. 3, 2004 through Feb. 19, 2005. 

• Illinois’ 12-3 conference record is its best through 15 games since the 2005 Big Ten championship team went 15-1 in Big Ten play. 

• Illinois has seven Quad 1 wins.

• Illinois recorded its second conference road win this season when scoring 90+ points (Dec. 23, 2020 at Penn State (98-81). The last time Illinois had two conference wins on the road scoring 90+ points was the 1990-91 season (March 2, 1991 at Northwestern (91-81) and Feb. 10, 1991 at Minnesota (94-74).

• Since scoring a season-low 63 points in the loss to Maryland, Illinois is averaging 79.3 points over the last eight games (634). 

• Illinois held Minnesota to 40.7% shooting (22-54). Illinois has held 11 of its last 12 opponents to less than 44% shooting. Since the loss to Ohio State, Illini foes are shooting a combined 39.9% over the last seven games (172-431). 

• Illinois is 14-1 this season when holding teams to less than 45% shooting. 

• Illinois outscored Minnesota in the paint, 48-20.

• Illinois outscored Minnesota on fast breaks, 31-8. 

• Illinois’ +58 point season margin against Minnesota is the Illini’s most ever in a two-game regular-season series against the Gophers since the series began in 1906.

• Illinois handed Minnesota its third-largest loss in Williams Arena history. 

     » 39 vs. #1 UCLA, 12/20/68 (90-51)

     » 34 vs. #5 Purdue, 1/13/18 (81-47)

     » 31 vs. #5 Illinois, 2/20/2021 (94-63)

     » 31 vs. #5 Ohio State, 3/14/92 (94-63)

• Illinois shot a season-best 86.7% (13-for-15) from the free throw line. It is the Illini’s highest since March 5, 2020 at Ohio State (90.0%).

• Illinois forced 18 turnovers and had nine steals, both matching season highs (Dec. 12, 2020 at Missouri). It is the most turnovers in a conference game since Feb. 14, 2019 at Ohio State (18) and the most steals in a conference game since Feb. 11, 2020 vs. Michigan State (10).

Ayo Dosunmu had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists to became the first Illini in history to have two triple-doubles and the first Illini to have a triple-double on the road. 

     » Mark Smith, Feb. 1, 1979 vs. Minnesota – 18 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists 

     » Sergio McClain, Jan. 13, 2001 vs. Michigan – 10 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists

     » Ayo Dosunmu Feb. 6, 2021 vs. Wisconsin – 21 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists

     » Ayo Dosunmu Feb. 20, 2021 at Minnesota – 19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists

Ayo Dosunmu is the first major conference player to have multiple triple-doubles in one season since Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ in 2018-19. Dosunmu joins Happ, Dennis Smith (NC State), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), and Draymond Green (Michigan State) as major conference players with multiple triple-doubles in one season since 2010. 

Ayo Dosunmu is averaging 21.0 points, 8.3 assists, and 6.8 rebounds in the last four games and has two triple-doubles. He is the first player in the last 25 seasons to reach those four marks in a four-game span.

Ayo Dosunmu is averaging 21.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. He is the only player in the NCAA over the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists.

• Dosunmu is on pace to become just the second Big Ten player since 1993 to average 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, joining Ohio State’s Evan Turner, the National Player of the Year in 2009-10. 

Trent Frazier had a career-high six steals. It is the most by an Illini player since Luther Head on Jan. 20, 2005 vs. #23 Iowa (6).

Kofi Cockburn had 22 points and six rebounds. At 17.6 ppg and 10.3 rpg overall, Cockburn is one of just three players from the high-major conferences currently averaging a double-double. He is on pace to become the first Illini player since Nick Weatherspoon in 1973 (25.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg) to average a double-double for an entire season. 

Kofi Cockburn was 9-for12 shooting (75%). Cockburn has shot 60.0% or better in 16 games this season, which is tied for second-most in the nation.

• Cockburn is one of seven players nationally averaging at least 17 points and 10 rebounds, and he is the only player in the NCAA averaging 15+ points and 10+ boards while shooting at least 65%. 

• Dosunmu and Cockburn are combining for 38.8 points per game, the sixth-highest duo nationally, and third among the high-major conferences. 

• Illinois checks in at No. 5 in this week’s AP rankings. It is the first time the Illini appear in the Top 5 of a February poll since 2005, and just the fourth time in the last 65 seasons (1989, 2001 and 2005). 

• Over the last two Big Ten seasons, Illinois has the best win percentage (.714) and most league wins (25).

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