Without Player of the Year candidate Kofi Cockburn and star guard Andre Curbelo, Illinois found a way. Despite failing to score in the final five minutes in the second half, the Illini prevailed over No. 10 Michigan State 56-55 at the State Farm Center Tuesday night. A key component of the victory was the leadership from fifth-year senior Trent Frazier.
Trent Frazier's Impact
Frazier led Illinois in scoring, totaling 16 points in a team effort many did not see coming after the Illini fell to a bad Maryland team last week.
Freshman Luke Goode had a memorable night scoring nine points in his next-man-up role. Alfonzo Plummer added 11 to help the Illini go into halftime with a double-digit lead.
Brad Underwood called the victory a 'Culture Win', and Frazier defines the culture Underwood has built over his five years at the House of Paign. Many remember the former commits who ended up at Missouri. But Frazier and Da'Monte Williams stuck around because they believed in Underwood and his vision. They have reignited a program that expects to be in the NCAA Tournament, not just on the bubble.
Trent Frazier doesn't get the national attention Cockburn or even Curbelo have earned, and last season Ayo Dosunmu overshadowed him as well.
However, Frazier is the heart and soul of this Illinois team and he's now in the top-10 in points in school history. That list includes the likes of Brandon Paul, Dee Brown, Malcolm Hill, Brian Cook, Demetri McCamey, and of course, Deon Thomas.
Frazier may not be as talented as Dosunmu was at Illinois, but his impact on rebuilding the basketball program is just as significant.
After an early exit from the NCAA Tournament last season, no one in that locker room wants to go out on a high note more than Frazier.
Illini fans will have his back and hopefully he starts to get some national attention before his final season in Champaign comes to an end.