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Illinois defeats Notre Dame 82-72 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Kofi Cockburn scored 28 points and Alfonso Plummer 21 to lead the way for the Illini.

Illinois center Kofi Cockburn scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds Monday against Notre Dame in Champaign.
Illinois center Kofi Cockburn scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds Monday against Notre Dame in Champaign.
Michael Allio/AP

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.