Freshman Kofi Cockburn scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, leading Illinois to an 83-71 win over Grand Canyon on Friday night in Phoenix.
The Fighting Illini (2-0) went on a 15-4 run over the first five minutes of the second half, making 6 of 7 shots in that span to turn a 41-37 halftime lead into a 56-41 advantage. The Antelopes fought back to make it close, but couldn’t overcome the deficit.
The Antelopes rallied to four points down, 71-67, on a Carlos Johnson layup with 4:12 to play. But Illinois scored the next six points and avoided the upset.
Andres Feliz added 21 points and Alan Griffin 11 for Illinois, which heads south to Tucson to play No. 21 Arizona on Sunday.
Cockburn logged his second double-double of the season after scoring 10 points with 11 rebounds in the Illini’s 78-70 overtime win over Nicholls on Tuesday at home.
Grand Canyon (0-2) got 18 points from junior guard Isiah Brown, and 14 from guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. Center Alessandro Lever, who fouled out with 10:08 to play, had 12 points in 16 minutes.
Illinois dominated inside with the 7-foot Cockburn and 6-9 Giorgi Bezhanishvili making a difference at both ends of the court. The Illini out-rebounded Grand Canyon 52-26 with a 20-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Illinois took a nine-point lead, 23-14, on a lob from Ayo Dosunmu to Cockburn for a dunk, and Dosunmu hit a jumper seconds later for the Fighting Illini’s largest lead of the first half, 25-14, at the 10:58 mark.
The Antelopes responded with an 8-0 run, largely without Cockburn on the floor for the Illini.
The teams played for the first time in Phoenix, two years after Illinois defeated Grand Canyon 62-58 in Champaign, Ill.
The Antelopes are 0-4 all-time against Big 10 opponents, and hosted a team from one of the Power Five conferences for just the second time.
—Field Level Media