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Illinois topples fifth-ranked Michigan, Yale wins sixth straight

(AP Photo/Holly Hart)

The Fighting Illini’s Kofi Cockburn, a 7-foot freshman from Jamaica, scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and inadvertently knocked out a referee as Illinois (7-3) stunned fifth-ranked Michigan 71-62 before a crowd of 13,277 at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill., on Wednesday night.

Cockburn had accidentally hit referee Lewis Garrison when celebrating a basket with about four minutes remaining in the game.  The official’s condition wasn’t immediately known, although he did leave the court on his own power.  He was later taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure.

It was the second loss in three games for Juwan Howard’s Wolverines, who dropped to 8-2.

Rebounding nicely from a 63-58 loss to Baylor this past weekend, fifteenth-ranked Arizona State (10-1) was clicking on all cylinders in easily dispensing of visiting Omaha 99-49 last night at the McKale Center in Tucson.  Josh Green and Chase Jeter scored 15 points apiece for the Wildcats, who host sixth-ranked Gonzaga on Saturday.

In a game featuring teams headed in opposite directions, Azar Swain scored 24 points as surging Yale (9-3) won its sixth straight game by beating UMass 83-80 in overtime at the Mullins Center in Amherst.  Swain, a 6-foot junior guard scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half as the Bulldogs rallied from a 45-40 halftime deficit.

It was the fourth overtime contest for Yale this season.  The most recent had been a 100-89 triple-overtime victory over Siena on Nov. 20.

Junior Carl Pierre, a four-year starter who is deadly from the outside, tallied a game-high 25 points, including a career-best eight 3-pointers for the Minutemen (5-6), who have lost six in a row after opening the season at 5-0.

Geo Baker scored 22 points as Rutgers (7-3), coming off a 12-point loss to Michigan State in its Big Ten opener on Sunday, evened its conference record at 1-1 with a 72-65 win over Wisconsin (5-5) in Piscataway, N.J.  

Kobe King paced the Badgers with 18 points. 

Wisconsin is still looking for its first road win of the season and may have to wait a while before that happens as its next two road games are at No. 19 Tennessee on Dec. 28 and at third-ranked Ohio State on Jan. 3.

Sophomore Mike Bothwell scored a career-high 25 points, including making 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, as Furman (9-3) rolled past Div. II North Greenville 90-65.  Bothwell entered Wednesday night’s contest against the visiting Crusaders averaging 9.2 points per game. 

North Greenville, which was limited to 39.1 percent from the floor, dropped to 4-5 on the season.

Highly-recruited 6-5 sophomore guard Nate Hinton, an AAC all-rookie selection a year ago, scored a career-high 25 points and hauled down 10 rebounds as host Houston (6-2) won its fourth straight by defeating UT-Arlington 71-63.  Brian Warren scored a season-high 27 points for the Mavericks, who fell to 4-7.

Reserve freshman guard Isaiah Hill scored 14 points as Tulsa improved to 8-2 on the season with a 69-56 win over Boise State (5-4) at the Donald Reynolds Center in Tulsa.  The Golden Hurricane play once-beaten Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday.

Xavier Sneed scored a season-high 20 points as Kansas State (6-3) enjoyed an 86-41 laugher over visiting Alabama State (1-8) in Manhattan, Kansas, on Wednesday night.  Cartier Diarra, KSU’s most experienced guard, dished off a career-high 10 assists for the Wildcats, who led 52-16 at the break.

TCU (7-2), whose two losses this year were by a combined four points — 80-78 to USC on Friday and a 62-60 overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 24 — looked impressive in a 70-60 win over dangerous Winthrop in Fort Worth on Wednesday. 

Sophomore guard R.J. Nembhard paced Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.  Senior guard Desmond Bane scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and tied a career record with six assists. 

Winthrop, which hung tough against Duke and knocked off then-18th ranked Saint Mary’s earlier in the year, was led by 6-8 senior Josh Ferguson, one of the Big South’s top frontcourt players who can also hit from long range, and Hunter Hale, who scored 14 and 11 points, respectively.

In other Wednesday night action, Nahiem Alleyne scored a career-high 22 points as Virginia Tech improved to 7-3 with a hard-fought 63-58 win over Chattanooga (6-5) in Blacksburg, Alonzo Verge, Jr., tallied a team-high 22 points as Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State Sun Devils (7-2) defeated Prairie View A&M 88-79, and Belmont’s Ben Sheppard scored a career-high 18 points as the Bruins — improving to 7-3 on the season — blasted Div. II Carson-Newman 105-56.

Darcy G. Richardson is a historian and the author of more than a dozen books. His latest is Loyola's Improbable Ramblers: 55 Years in the Making, available now on Amazon.

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