Illinois Falls to Clemson in NIT, 50-49
March 23, 2014
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Rayvonte Rice led Illinois with 15 points, but the Fighting Illini's season came to an end with a 50-49 loss to Clemson in the second round of the NIT.
Rod Hall made a driving layup with 9.3 seconds left to lead Clemson to the one-point victory.
Illinois (20-15) led just once on Jon Ekey's 3-pointer that put the Illini ahead 49-48 with 2:06 left. Ekey finished with 11 points.
Tracy Abrams missed a 3-pointer for Illinois with 1.7 seconds left. The Tigers (22-12) struggled to get the ball inbounds and threw it into the front court. Hall saved the ball from going out on the other endline and the clock ran out.
K.J. McDaniels led Clemson with 12 points, while Landry Nnoko had 11 points and eight rebounds.
The two teams came in to the game as mirror images of each other. Both boasting stout defensive numbers, but struggled throughout the season to put together consistent offense.
That held true on Sunday.
Illinois trailed most of the game, but stayed within striking distance by forcing 15 Clemson turnovers - despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 14 percent from behind the arc.
The Tigers shot only 18 percent from three, but clamped down on defense and stopped key drives by the Illini - tallying nine total blocks.
Clemson will host Belmont on Tuesday and the winner will go to New York for the NIT semifinals.