It’s almost impossible to defend Illinois’ star center Kofi Cockburn. Typically, the best plan is to try to get the All-B1G center in foul trouble to eliminate the contribution he can make throughout the course of the game.

Michigan State is going to have its hands full on the defensive end on Tuesday with a battle for first place in the conference standings on the line. On Monday, head coach Tom Izzo talked about the challenge Cockburn presents defensively.

“He’s a lot to try to game-plan for,” Izzo said, per Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press. He also said that the Spartans might have to “block and tackle” Cockburn in the post.


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Cockburn is the leading scorer and rebounder for Illinois this season, posting an impressive 21.1-point, 11.8-rebound average per game. He’s a big reason why the Illini sit at 13-5 and sit at 6-2 in the B1G standings.

Right now, it’s still unclear if Cockburn will see the floor on Tuesday night against the Spartans. The 7-footer missed Friday’s game against Maryland because of concussion protocol.

Illinois lost 81-65 in College Park.

Tip-off between Michigan State and Illinois in Champaign is set for 7 p.m. ET with the game airing on ESPN.