CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Maryland guard Darryl Morsell gets the Player of the Game honors from Illini Now/Sports Illustrated after the senior led his team to a win at Illinois.
Player of the Game: Darryl Morsell - Look, I get it. Illinois fans really don't like the fact that the Maryland senior wing whipped out his phone and shot an instantly viral video as he's walking off the State Farm Center floor after his third straight win over the Illini in Champaign. The fact of the matter is Illinois had plenty of chances to make sure that didn't happen and one of them was Ayo Dosunmu, Adam Miller, Da'Monte Williams or any other Illini perimeter wing player be able to handle the game of the 6-foot-5 Maryland star. To quote Illinois head coach Brad Underwood, "Morsell did what seniors should do" and that included playing every minute of the second half where he shot 6 of 9 from the field including getting an assist on the game-winning basket and making a game-clinching jump shot in Maryland's final two possessions.
- Illinois saw its nine-game home winning streak snapped.
- Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini with a game-high 23 points to go along with 8 rebounds.
- Dosunmu now has seven games this season scoring 22+, second-most nationally behind Iowa’s Luka Garza (10).
- Kofi Cockburn posted his NCAA-leading ninth double-double of the season, finishing with 21 points (8-10 FG, 5-6 FT) and game-high 10 rebounds.
- Cockburn has now posted four straight double-doubles and six in seven Big Ten games.
- Maryland has won 18 of its last 19 games when Darryl Morsell has reached double figures. The streak was 17 straight before it was snapped at Purdue this Christmas.
- Maryland guard/forward Aaron Wiggins posted 15 points and nine boards in a road win at No. 6 Wisconsin on Dec. 28. Wiggins had 12 points in 38 minutes Sunday night.
So, does this game temporarily stops the chatter from Illini fans that Andre Curbelo needs to start? Because the sad fact of this game is Adam Miller was the only perimeter player that had a consistent offensive game. The former Mr. Basketball in Illinois ended his shooting slump by knocking down 3 of 5 from 3-point range for a 9-point game. Ayo Dosunmu struggled to finish near the rim through contact. Trent Frazier was injured in the first half and wasn't a factor since coming out of the locker room after halftime. Despite having nine rebounds and five assists, Da'Monte Williams struggled defensively and missed some key free throws down the stretch of this game. Despite missing Eric Ayala to a groin injury, Maryland got solid performances from Darryl Morsell, Hakim Hart and Aaron Wiggins to allow the Terrapins' size advantage not be an issue.
In Illinois' last win over Northwestern, this was the exact line that was written: "Kofi Cockburn is starting to understand that nobody in this league, and yes, that includes Iowa's Luka Garza, can handle him if he gets a deep post touch." Cockburn proved Sunday that is still true but failed to demand post touches in critical moments and when he did get his hands on the ball late in the second half, Maryland simply ran two or three defenders at him and caused some late-game turnovers. Giorgi Bezhanishvili was again a non-factor and neither Jacob Grandison nor Coleman Hawkins were able to get enough minutes to create matchup problems at the 4 spot against an undersized Maryland defender.
Maryland got 16 points and eight rebounds from Dante Scott and 7-footer Chol Marial hit a 3-pointer during his eight minutes off the bench. The fact that Illinois only outscored Maryland by 10 points in the paint showcased the Terrapins ability to guard the rim and clear rebounds despite playing five players outside the five-foot around of the basket.
This is an easy summary but neither team got a quality performance from a bench player but Curbelo's terrible night makes Illinois' grade worse because the Illini count on the freshman point guard for so much coming off the bench.
Maryland, the same team that lost by 22 to Iowa on its home floor three days earlier, left with a stunning upset win on the Illini home court.
How did they do this? Illinois missed 11 layups and stopped feeding Kofi Cockburn the basketball late in this game. This loss for Illinois could keep them out of the 1 or 2-seed talk even if a late-season surge occurs because recent history suggests that Maryland isn't going to suddenly turn this 2020-21 season from a rare rebuilding campaign to late-season charge for a postseason berth.