Men's Basketball
Game 21 Notes & Links: Illinois at Indiana

Rayvonte Rice poured in 29 points in Illinois' OT win over IU on Dec. 31.
Rayvonte Rice poured in 29 points in Illinois' OT win over IU on Dec. 31.

Jan. 24, 2014

 Game 21: Illinois (13-7, 2-5) at Indiana (12-7, 2-4)
 When Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 | 2 p.m. CST
 Location Bloomington, Ind. | Assembly Hall (17,472) | Seating Chart | Parking
 Tickets Buy Online
 Television Big Ten Network (Eric Collins, PBP & Shon Morris, analyst)
 Watch Online
 Listen Illini Sports Network | Listen (All-Access) | Sirius 85 / XM 85
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Indiana | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Indiana | Big Ten
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  #Illini | @IlliniAthletics | Facebook | YouTube

 Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-2 190 Jr. 12.6 3.8 3.4 85% from the FT in B1G play (22-26)
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 r-Jr. 17.6 5.7 1.8 29 pts, 8 rebs. in Dec. 31 win over IU
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 200 r-Sr. 11.1 5.4 0.8 19 pts on 7-10 FG at OSU Thursday
F 33 Jon Ekey 6-7 225 Gr. 8.2 5.8 0.2 Leads team in rebounding and made threes
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 250 Jr. 7.0 5.6 0.4 3.1 off. rpg in B1G play leads conf.
 Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Jaylon Tate 6-3 160 Fr. 2.5 0.9 2.3 2.4 assist/turnover ratio
G 10 Mike LaTulip 6-1 170 So. 1.1 0.3 0.2 Hitting .429 from behind the arc
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 210 Fr. 3.5 2.1 0.5 Has hit 26-of-33 from the line (.788)
C 22 Maverick Morgan 610 250 Fr. 1.8 1.6 0.2 Shooting 55.6 percent from field
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 4.0 1.3 0.7 Career-high 29 mins. 1/18 vs. Michigan St.
F 31 Austin Colbert 6-9 210 Fr. 1.6 1.1 0.3 Shooting 48 percent from the field
G 3 Ahmad Starks * 5-9 170 Sr. 10.4* 2.0* 2.3* Transfer must sit out 2013-14 season
G 11 Aaron Cosby * 6-3 195 Jr. 12.6* 2.5* 3.0* Transfer must sit out 2013-14 season
F 35 Darius Paul * 6-8 220 So. 10.4* 5.7* 1.7* Transfer must sit out 2013-14 season
 *2012-13 stats at former school

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 121-76/.614 (6th year)
At Illinois: 36-20/.643 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 10-15/.400
Assistant Coaches: Dustin Ford (2nd year), Paris Parham (2nd year), Jamall Walker (2nd year)
Special Assistant to the Head Coach: Ryan Pedon (1st year)

Series Notes vs. Indiana
Series Record: Tied, 85-85
Series Streak: Illinois W-1
Record at Bloomington: Indiana leads 52-29
Series Streak at Bloomington: Indiana W-2
Last Meeting: Illinois 83, Indiana 80 (OT) // Dec. 31, 2013 at Champaign
Groce vs. Indiana: 2-1

Opening Tips
• Fresh off battling consecutive ranked opponents, the Fighting Illini face Indiana on Sunday before following with two more ranked foes to close out a difficult five-game stretch. Illinois plays a total of nine games against currently ranked Big Ten teams, tied with Minnesota for most in the conference.

• The last Illinois-Indiana match-up on Dec. 31 in Champaign featured the top two scoring performances thus far in Big Ten play, with Yogi Ferrell tallying 30 points and Rayvonte Rice registering a career-high 29.

• Illinois has won seven of the last 10 games against Indiana, and 15 of the last 22 dating back to Feb. 25, 2003. Five of Illinois' seven losses to the Hoosiers over that span have been in Bloomington.

• Indiana held a 73-62 lead in the series with Illinois through 1996. But the Illini have won 23 of 35 games spanning the last 18 seasons to tie it at 85-all entering Sunday's contest. Illinois is attempting to take the lead in the all-time series for the first time in 39 years, when Illinois held a 47-46 advantage over IU following the 1975 season.

Illini Items
Joseph Bertrand had a breakout game Thursday at Ohio State, scoring a game-high 19 points. It marked his second-best total of the season and second-most points in a Big Ten game, trailing only his career-high 25-point performance against Nebraska as a sophomore (Jan. 7, 2012).

Nnanna Egwu also found his touch against the Buckeyes. He reached double figures for the first time in 10 games, scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting. This followed a four-game stretch where he totaled 10 points on combined 5-of-26 from the field.

Jon Ekey is averaging 9.7 points (29) and shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range (7-17) over the last three games, after averaging 4.0 points the previous two games.

• The Illini are 9-1 this season and 23-3 overall under Coach John Groce when reaching the 70-point marker.

• Illinois is 3-0 this season in games decided by one or two points, and 8-0 overall under Groce.

• Illinois has either led or been tied in the closing minutes in five of its seven losses.

• Illinois has done a good job of taking care of the basketball, averaging just 10.2 turnovers per game (third in Big Ten, 19th in NCAA). Illinois' turnover rate of 15.7 percent ranks 36th nationally.

• The Illini are allowing an average of 63.7 points per game this season (third in Big Ten, 36th in NCAA).

• Only four opponents have exceeded 70 points against the Illini defense this year.

• Illinois ranks 53rd nationally in defensive efficiency (97.2) and 33rd in defensive free throw rate (32.1).

• The Illini rank fifth in the Big Ten and 74th nationally in offensive rebound percentage, collecting 34.9 percent of their misses on the year.

• The UI starting five has clearly carried the scoring load, combining for 80 percent of Illinois' points on the season (1097 of 1372). That percentage ranks fifth nationally among teams from the major conferences.

Rayvonte Rice ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring with a 16.6-point average. He has reached double figures in all but two games this season.

Tracy Abrams had been the Illini's leading scorer in three straight games prior to Ohio State (nine points).

• Abrams ranks fourth in the Big Ten with a 1.9 assist/turnover ratio during conference play.

Joseph Bertrand is shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point range this season (14-31) after entering his senior season as a career 31.3 percent shooter from behind the arc (20-64). • Bertrand is shooting 55.2 percent on 2-pointers (69-125) this season, while Rice is shooting 50 percent on 2s (84-168).

Nnanna Egwu, the Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker (60th in NCAA), has recorded at least two blocks in 16 games.

• Egwu leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounding in conference play with an average of 3.1 rpg.

• Freshman Kendrick Nunn is fifth on the team in scoring during Big Ten play, averaging 6.0 points. Nunn has registered 42 points in seven league contests after totaling 38 points in 13 non-conference games.

Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers
Coach Groce and his assistants will wear Nikes on the Assembly Hall sidelines during Sunday's game against Indiana. They are joining staffs from across the country who will trade in their dress shoes for sneakers as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers awareness weekend. Coaches vs. Cancer is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society (ACS) and National Association of Basketball Coaches. The program empowers coaches, their teams and communities to join the fight against cancer by participating in awareness efforts, advocacy programs and fundraising activities. Coaches vs. Cancer has raised more than $87 million for the ACS.

Last Time Out: #17 Ohio State 62, Illini 55 (Jan. 23)
Illinois was on the verge of earning a road win over a ranked conference opponent, but some costly turnovers and big shots by Ohio State down the stretch ultimately led to a seven-point defeat.

The Illini led 25-24 at halftime after holding the Buckeyes to 29 percent shooting on its home floor in the first half. With the Illini ahead by three, Ohio State went on a key 9-0 run to take a 40-34 lead with 12 minutes remaining. Illinois fought back to tie it at 46, then was within one possession twice in the last four minutes. With the Illini trailing 52-50, LaQuinton Ross converted a 3-point play, and following a UI turnover, Lenzelle Smith nailed a 3-pointer. That accounted for six unanswered by the Buckeyes and sealed the game.

Ohio State shot 54.2 percent in the second half as they outscored the Illini by eight points after intermission. Illinois had 15 turnovers, equaling its most on the season, and the Buckeyes turned those into 16 points. The Illini also were outscored by nine points from behind the arc as the hosts shot 8-of-19 while the Orange and Blue managed only 5-of-18.

Joseph Bertrand had a terrific game for the Illini, scoring a game-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Jon Ekey nailed a trio of 3-pointers to finish with 11 points, and Nnanna Egwu knocked down 5-of-9 shots en route to 10 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.

Recent Results Not the Norm for Groce
John Groce has been a part of winning programs throughout his 21-year career, coaching teams that have made 17 postseason appearances and won 67 percent of their games. So it's no surprise to find that Illinois' current five-game skid is the first he has faced in his six years as a head coach. Groce also never encountered a five-game slide during eight combined years as an assistant at Ohio State, Xavier and Butler. In fact, this is just the third time in a career spanning more than 700 games that Groce has experienced a string of at least five successive defeats. The first two occurred while he was an assistant coach at North Carolina State in 1997 (six games) and 2000 (seven).

The Last Meeting
December 31, 2013
State Farm Center
Illini Beat Indiana in OT in Big Ten Opener, 83-80
Illinois sank five key free throws late to knock off Indiana in overtime 83-80 Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Highlights | Photos | Box Score | Notes | Postgame Press Conference

Looking Back at the Last Indiana Game:

• Illinois 83, Indiana 80 (OT) // Dec. 31, 2013 at Champaign
1. The Illini held the Hoosiers to one field goal over the final 11:44. After Yogi Ferrell hit a three with 6:44 remaining in the second half, IU did not make another basket until Ferrell connected on a three with four seconds remaining in overtime.

2. Rayvonte Rice scored his most points as an Illini with 29, matching his career high from Drake (vs. Central Arkansas on 12/21/11). Rice hit a season-high 11-of-15 free throws, including the final two of the contest that sealed the three-point win.

3. Rice registered his sixth 20-point game of the season. He also had a team-high eight rebounds, leading the Orange and Blue on the glass for the fourth time this year.

4. Tracy Abrams turned in an efficient effort, hitting 8-of-12 from the field for 17 points.

5. The back-and-forth contest had 12 lead changes along with 17 ties, the most in an Illini game this season.

6. Illinois forced a season-high 23 turnovers, marking the most since forcing 24 turnovers against Northern Colorado on Dec. 12, 2010. UI notched a season-best 12 steals and posted a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

7. Illinois outscored Indiana 32-12 in points in the paint, marking a season-high +20 advantage in the category.

A Look Back at the Last Indiana Game in Bloomington:

• #23 Indiana 84, Illinois 71 // Feb. 9, 2012 at Bloomington
The Illini battled Indiana on its homecourt before eventually falling to the 23rd-ranked Hoosiers. In a game that had 14 ties and six lead changes, Illinois was unable to overcome foul trouble and the Hoosiers' offensive production.

Illinois started strong behind Meyers Leonard's 15-first half points and trailed by just two at halftime. After the Hoosiers opened up an eight-point lead, the Illini cut it to three and nearly tied it on a D.J. Richardson 3-point attempt with 12:29 remaining. The bucket was waved off as Leonard was whistled for his fourth foul on a moving screen. The Hoosiers quickly extended the lead back to eight and the Illini could get no closer than six before the Hoosiers pulled away during the closing minutes.

Illinois committed 30 fouls that led to Indiana racking up 35 points on 42 attempts at the stripe. It marked the most free throws by an Illini opponent since Purdue knocked down 35 freebies on Jan. 9, 2002. Indiana shot 50 percent en route to its 84 points, the most allowed by the Illini defense on the season.

Richardson led the Illini with 19 points, Leonard finished with 17 and Brandon Paul added 13.

Five on the Starting Five

Rayvonte Rice
1. Big Ten's sixth-leading scorer with average of 16.6 points.
2. Also leads Illini in steals (1.2 spg, 13th in Big Ten) and is one shy of team lead in rebounds (5.7 rpg).
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 13 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 18 of 20 games with six 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career scoring leader with 1,314 points (includes two seasons at Drake).

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring at 12.6 ppg, the best scoring average of his career (10.6 ppg last year).
2. Team leader in assists, averaging 3.4 per game (12th in Big Ten).
3. Scored in double figures in eight of last 10 games, led by season-high 22 points vs. Missouri (Dec. 21).
4. Shooting nearly 76 percent from the free throw line on the season (72-95).
5. Illini's active career scoring leader with 768 points.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Team's third-leading scorer is averaging double figures for first time, a career-best 11.1 points.
2. Also has improved his rebounding, averaging career-best 5.4 boards this season.
3. Shooting 53.2 percent from the field, ranking ninth in the Big Ten and best among perimeter players.
4. Has made 45.2 percent from 3-point range this year after entering season as career 31.3 percent 3-point shooter.
5. Illinois' lone scholarship senior to play entire career with the Orange and Blue.

Jon Ekey
1. Graduate transfer from Illinois State ranks fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.2 points.
2. Knocked down 39 threes in 20 games after making a total of 31 treys in 33 games last season at ISU.
3. Average of 2.0 threes per game ranks eighth in Big Ten.
4. Illini's leading rebounder with average of 5.8 boards (16th in Big Ten).
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career rebounding leader with 547 boards (includes three seasons at ISU).

Nnanna Egwu
1. Illini's fifth-leading scorer with 7.0-point average.
2. Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker is averaging 2.1 blocks, up from average of 1.4 blocks last season.
3. Leads Big Ten in offensive rebounds in conference play with 3.1 per game.
4. Just missed double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds Thursday at Ohio State.
5. Started 56 of Illinois' last 59 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.

Complete Illinois-Indiana Game Notes (PDF)