This is not how many expected the college basketball season to start for Illinois.

The Illini started the year going 2-1 while Kofi Cockburn served a 3-game suspension from the NCAA. But with Cockburn returning to the floor Monday night, many were hoping for a rejuvenated performance out of Brad Underwood’s squad.

It initially looked like Illinois would roll after building a double-digit lead early in the first half. Unfortunately, the Bearcats slowly chipped away and eventually headed to halftime with a 3-point lead.

In the second half, it was an even worse showing by the Illini as Cincinnati limited Illinois to 20 points after halftime. For the game, the Illini shot just 16-for-57 (28.1%) and 3-for-22 from beyond the arc.

The bright spot for Illinois was Cockburn who posted a team-high 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with 7 rebounds. Andre Curbelo did score 12 points but also had 5 turnovers while Trent Frazier was weld scoreless with an 0-for-9 mark from the field.

In the end, Cincinnati cruised to a 71-51 win as Illinois drops back-to-back games. For comparison, last season’s team lost back-to-back games just once (vs. Maryland and Ohio State in January), and there are a number of reasons for concern with this present team.

Hopefully, Underwood and company are able to get things sorted out quickly. Otherwise, it could be a disappointing year in conference play.