The game was close until about midway through the second half, when Dosunmu hit three consecutive 3-pointers to fuel Illinois’ 14-0 run. Andre Curbelo added five assists for Illinois (7-3, 3-1 Big Ten).
It was Cockburn’s sixth double-double in ten games.
“I’m proud of our guys today,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “It’s been a trying and difficult week for us, coming off of three games since Sunday and the Christmas holiday tucked in between. But we did what we had to do.”
Armaan Franklin led Indiana (5-4, 0-2) with 23 points, and big man Trayce Jackson-Davis added 11.
“We got great looks,” Jackson-Davis said. “We had a couple easy looks. They just didn’t go down for us.”
Neither team could find the basket in the first three minutes of the game, and the Hoosiers went on a 7-0 run while Illinois went 0 for 7 from the field. Following a 6-0 Illini run, both teams settled in and traded baskets for most of the opening frame. Indiana led 15-9 before Curbelo and Dosunmu took control for Illinois.
Dosunmu scored 10 points in the first half, many of those coming off circus passes by Curbelo. Illinois led 29-27 at the half.
Dosunmu scored 30 points or more for the third time this season.
“Coach said go out there and be the best player in the country today,” Dosunmu said. “I like to make the game come to me. That’s how I play. I like to get my teammates involved early and ease myself into the game. When it’s time to win the game, I take my shots.”
“He’s the best player in the country,” Cockburn said.
Indiana coach Archie Miller seemed to agree.
“Really in the last six to four to two minutes of the game, Ayo really stepped up and made the winning plays,” Miller said. “The bottom line is, Ayo played MVP level tonight, made every big play for them. It makes a lot of problems for everyone else.”
Indiana is known for its tough defense and Saturday’s game was no exception.
“Indiana was as good as advertised on defense,” Underwood said. “You to get wins a lot of different ways in this league. We played slow against one of the best defenses in the country today. Thank goodness we had one of the best players in the country on the floor for us in Ayo Dosunmu.”
Miller had little to say, other than “I thought for the majority of the game, the defense played well.”
Illinois closed the game strong, going on a 21-11 run in which Dosumu contributed 14 points. The game was fairly close, statistically. The Illini shot 24 of 54 from the field for 44% and the Hoosiers shot 23-58 (40%). Dosunmu’s offensive output and a 14-of-18 showing at the foul line sealed the win.
Illinois was heavily favored against unranked Indiana and did what it had to do. The Illini might move up a notch or two, but the win, hard-fought as it was, is unlikely to move the needle much.
Indiana: Hosts Penn. State on Wednesday.
Illinois: After a week off, the Illini host Purdue on Jan. 2.