CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)Coleman Hawkins had 17 points on Friday night and No. 11 Illinois overwhelmed Arkansas State in a 92-53 blowout.
Illinois welcomed guards Andre Curbelo and Trent Frazier back into the lineup. Curbelo finished with eight points, seven assists and four rebounds for Illinois (2-0), while Frazier, who returned from a shoulder injury, added 12 points and four rebounds.
Marquis Eaton led the Red Wolves (1-1) with 13 points, while Arkansas transfer Desi Sills added eight points.
Hawkins also had a career-high 12 rebounds and dished out four assists for Illinois, while Jacob Grandison finished with 15 points.
”I’ve always been very positive about Coleman,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. ”I think he’s ready to take that next step. I think we’re starting to see that. Now he’s got another step (to take).”
Curbelo, who returned from a concussion, made his presence felt early on, making four first-half assists. One was a lob to a streaking Hawkins for an open dunk and another was a no-look pass over his shoulder to Omar Payne, who slammed it home.
”(Curbelo) has got abilities that very few have,” Underwood said. ”I hope everybody appreciates what they see sometimes because it is very spectacular. It is very rare.”
The Illini started the game with an 18-4 run, while Arkansas State started 2 of 11 from the field.
Illinois finished the first half on an 18-2 run, and went into the break with a 48-26 lead and a 15-2 edge in transition points.
Curbelo got into a few testy exchanges with the Arkansas State bench, and both Underwood and Arkansas State coach Mike Balado received technical fouls. After making a layup with 6:33 to go in the first half, Curbelo blew a kiss toward the Red Wolves’ bench, right in front of one of the officials, and was given a technical foul.
Curbelo said afterward that someone on the bench was swearing at him in Spanish and insulting his mother.
”Instead of talking trash, I made that nice layup and then blew them a kiss,” Curbelo said. ”That’s it.”
BIG PICTURE: Illinois heads into the Gavitt Tipoff Games next week with plenty of confidence in its lineup, even with star center Kofi Cockburn set to miss out due to his three-game suspension.
Illinois: At Marquette on Monday.
Arkansas State: Hosts Central Baptist College on Monday.
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