CHAMPAIGN — Kofi Cockburn scored 28 points, Alfonso Plummer added 21 and Illinois defeated Notre Dame 82-72 on Monday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Cockburn, a preseason All-American and player of the year candidate, leads the nation in scoring at 26.6 points per game. He did not take a shot in the first 12 minutes but finished the first half with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting. For the game, he was 11 of 16 from the field and made 6 of 9 free throws.
Cockburn scored eight points early in the second half and his dunk with 14:50 remaining gave the Illini a 56-43 lead. Jacob Grandison’s 3-pointer extended the lead to 59-43.
At that point, the pace slowed down for Illinois and Notre Dame drew within 67-62 when Cormac Ryan hit a 3-pointer with just under six minutes to go.
Illinois (4-2) pushed the lead to 71-63 at the final official timeout then made 11 of 12 free throws in the final three minutes, including 8 for 8 by Plummer.
Freshman Blake Wesley led Notre Dame with a season-high 24 points off the bench. Dane Goodwin had 15 points and Nate Leszewski scored 13 for the Fighting Irish (3-3).
The matchup paired two of the top 15 schools in all-time victories. With 1,840 wins, Illinois is 15th on the list and Notre Dame is eighth with 1,918 wins.