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Instant Analysis: Bearcats Dominate Illinois 71-51 in Hall of Fame Classic

The Bearcats face the winner of No. 13 Arkansas and Kansas State in the tournament final.

CINCINNATI — Bye-bye Fighting Illini.

Cincinnati stunned No. 14 Illinois 71-51 on Monday night to start the 2021 Hall of Fame Classic. With the win, Wes Miller became the first coach in Bearcats history to open their tenure 5-0. The impressive outing marked the program's largest ranked win in over ten years.

The guard combo of Mikey Saunders (career-high 20 points, four rebounds) and Jeremiah Davenport (season-high 19 points, seven rebounds) took the fight to the Illini. Cincinnati faced a 23-8 deficit midway through the first half—but stuck with the defensive game plan to pull off a stark turnaround.

Illinois started 9-for-16 from the field and then went on a 3-for-25 stretch until deep into the second half. Kofi Cockburn (18 points, seven rebounds) opened red hot. Cincinnati showed their resolve and threw all of the bodies they could at Cockburn to slow him down.

Illinois came into the game as the No. 1 rebounding team in the country (50.3 RPG), and the Bearcats outworked them on the boards 40-37. Wes Miller's crew is rolling; they await the winner of No. 13 Arkansas and Kansas State on Tuesday night.

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