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Watch now: Illinois back home Friday against Rio Grande Valley with Frazier ailing | College Sports

RANDY REINHARDT

CHAMPAIGN – That much-desired sense of control seeped back into University of Illinois basketball coach Brad Underwood in Tuesday’s 72-64 victory over Kansas State during the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Missouri.

“That was the first night I was able to train the guys and get them into position to shoot baskets and take action to get the ball to Kofi (Cockburn),” said Underwood. “It was nice to finally have the feeling that I influenced the game through the coaching and not just tried to get through it.”

And then senior guard Trent Frazier sustained a knee injury.

Frazier was bailed off the second half at 7:09 a.m. and appears in doubt for the 7 p.m. non-conference game against Texas-Rio Grande Valley at the State Farm Center on Friday.

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Underwood said Wednesday he had “nothing of concern” regarding information about the extent of Frazier’s injury. The Illinois coach said Frazier was on crutches but “we know it’s not an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament tear). We will continue to observe that. “

Frazier’s status again tarnished an early season in Illinois when Cockburn suspended three games with an NCAA ban and guards Frazier, Andre Curbelo, Austin Hutcherson and Luke Goode were sidelined due to injuries.

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“You are not replacing Trent. He’s playing the point and off, ”Underwood said. “Trent is the only guy who doesn’t make mistakes on scouting reports. There is a mental component to not having it when it is not there. “

Hutcherson, Alfonso Plummer and newcomer Brandin Podziemski could all line up for more playing time if Frazier is out.

Underwood was optimistic about point guard Curbelo, who was previously on the concussion log and was limited to 19 minutes against Kansas State.

Illinois “ruled that out,” Underwood said when asked about persistent head trauma.

“He was great today (Wednesday). He felt fine. He was extremely committed, ”said Underwood, whose team in 14th place has a 3-2 record. “It is frustrating for him not to feel right. He’s in a really good place. We hope that this will give us some ground. “

The Illinois coach believes the absences have negatively impacted his team’s stamina.

“I don’t think we’re in great shape yet. We have to get back to late form, ”he said. “They’re really trying to be a really good team. Up to this point nothing has become easy. We guard and play well enough at this end. One area that we have to clean up is sales. “

Rio Grande Valley stands 4-2 and is coached by Matt Figger. The Western Athletic Conference program is based in Edinburgh, Texas.

“You are being coached by a dear friend. We worked together for a long time (in Kansas State), ”said Underwood. “They play extremely well and have some very talented goal scorers. You know how to compete. They play very well on the defensive. They will be a team to be reckoned with in their league. “

Justin Johnson, a 6-foot-6 junior, leads the vaqueros in scoring (17.5) and rebounding (6.8). Ricky Nelson, a 6-1 junior, adds 13.0 points and 6-0 junior LaQuan Butler adds 12.0.

Rio Grande Valley shoots 44.8 percent out of the field, 34.3 percent over the 3-point arc and 69.6 percent on the free-throw line.

Cockburn has accumulated 41 points and 20 rebounds in two games since returning from suspension.

Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: pg_reinhardt

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