Postgame Notes - Illinois at Boston University (NIT First Round)
March 19, 2014
Illinois NIT First Round Postgame Notes
1. Illinois has 20 wins (20-14) for the second straight season, the fifth time in the last six years, the 13th time in the last 15 years and the 31st time overall.
2. The No. 2 seeded Orange and Blue advance to face No. 3 seed Clemson on Sunday, March 23, at 11 am ET/10 am CT in the second round of the NIT. Despite having a higher seed, the Fighting Illini will travel to Clemson due to renovations taking place at State Farm Center in Champaign.
3. The Fighting Illini improve to 8-4 all time and 2-0 on the road in the NIT (five appearances).
4. Illinois improves to 7-2 this season and 14-4 under Groce in games decided by five points or less.
5. Illinois came back from a 17-point deficit (30-13 at 5:23 mark of first half) to win, marking the largest Illini comeback victory since overcoming a 23-point deficit at Clemson on Dec. 2, 2009.
6. Illinois now has five victories this season where it overcame double-digit deficits (10-at UNLV, 11-IPFW, 13-vs. UIC, 11-at Minnesota, 17-at Boston U.), and nine overall under Groce.
7. The Illini closed the game on a 12-1 run over the final four minutes. After falling behind 61-54 with 4:11 left, Tracy Abrams got the run started with a three-pointer at the 3:50 mark. After an empty possession, Rayvonte Rice came up with the play of the game, going coast-to-coast after a steal for a layup and-one to cut the deficit to one. After four more points from Rice (two FTs and a layup), Nnanna Egwu sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 10.5 seconds left. The Illinois defense held the Terriers to 0-of-4 shooting and forced two turnovers in the final four minutes.
8. Illinois has now won four consecutive road games dating back to a 62-49 win at Minnesota on Feb. 19. It marks the longest road winning streak for the Illini since a 14-game streak spanning the 2003-04 (last six road games) and 2004-05 (first eight road games) seasons.
9. Junior transfer Rice had a monster game, scoring a game-high 28 points (one shy of matching his career-high) and pulling down eight rebounds. He hit 11-of-14 from the field (.786). The 11 made field goals surpassed his previous career-high of 10 against UIC on Dec. 28, 2013.
10. Freshman Malcolm Hill also had a big game, scoring 10 points (one shy of his career-high) and pulling down a career-high eight rebounds in 20 minutes.
11. Illinois shot 50.0 percent from the field (23-of-46), its highest shooting percentage since shooting 52.0 percent against Dartmouth on Dec. 10 this season, while limiting BU to 42.6 percent shooting. The Illini improved to 8-1 this season and 17-2 under Groce when shooting over 45 percent from the field and 14-1 this season and 27-2 under Groce when out-shooting their opponent.
12. Illinois has limited its opponent to 65 points or less in 19 of its 20 wins this season, and 26 of its last 27 wins dating back to Feb. 10 of last year. The 83-80 win over Indiana on Dec. 31 is the only UI victory where the opponent topped 65 points.