Jan. 31, 2014
Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
||85% from the FT in B1G play (22-26)
||20 pts on 7-11 FG & 4-7 3FG at IU Sunday
||Leads team in 3FG percentage (.424)
||Leads team in rebounding and made threes
||2nd in B1G in off. rebs (2.9 off. rpg)
Off the Bench
||2.3 assist/turnover ratio
||Hitting .429 from behind the arc
||Has hit 26-of-33 from the line (.788)
||Shooting 55.6 percent from field
||5.8 ppg in Big Ten play
||Shooting 48 percent from the field
||Ahmad Starks *
||Transfer must sit out 2013-14 season
||Aaron Cosby *
||Transfer must sit out 2013-14 season
||Darius Paul *
||Transfer must sit out 2013-14 season
| *2012-13 stats at former school|
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 121-77/.611 (6th year)
At Illinois: 36-21/.632 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 10-16/.385
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. Iowa
Series Record: Illinois leads 81-68
Series Streak: Iowa W-2
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 61-14
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-11
Last Year's Meeting: Iowa 63, Illinois 55 // March 5, 2013 at Iowa City
Groce vs. Iowa: 0-1
Illinois returns to State Farm Center for a pair of games against ranked teams, hosting No. 15 Iowa on Saturday and No. 14 Wisconsin next Tuesday. The two-game home stand will conclude a stretch of four ranked opponents in five games. Illinois plays a total of nine games against currently ranked Big Ten teams, tied with Minnesota for most in the conference.
Illinois enters Saturday night's game looking to end a six-game slide. The last time Illinois lost six in a row was two seasons ago, and the Illini snapped that skid with a 65-54 win over Iowa in the Hawkeyes last trip to Champaign.
Illinois has won 11 in a row over the Hawkeyes at State Farm Center, the UI's longest active home court winning streak over a conference opponent. Iowa's last victory in Champaign came in 1999.
After being held scoreless for the first time in his career at Ohio State, Rayvonte Rice responded in a big way at Indiana. Rice totaled 20 points against the Hoosiers, his best scoring total since a career-high 29-point effort in his last outing against IU (Dec. 31). Rice hit 7-of-11 shots in Bloomington, his best field goal percentage in Big Ten play (63.6 percent) and made a career-high four 3-pointers.
Nnanna Egwu is coming off a breakout week at Ohio State and at Indiana. Egwu combined for 18 points (9.0 avg.) on 52.9 percent shooting (9-17). This followed a four-game stretch where he totaled 10 points on combined 5-of-26 from the field.
Jaylon Tate played a career-high 27 minutes at Indiana, recording six points and five assists.
Jon Ekey has collected three steals in each of the last 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 with seven minutes or less in five of its eight losses:
Illinois has done a good job of taking care of the basketball, averaging just 10.3 turnovers per game (third in Big Ten, 17th in NCAA). Illinois' turnover rate of 15.9 percent ranks 40th nationally.
The Illini are allowing an average of 63.3 points per game this season (second in Big Ten, 35th in NCAA).
Only four opponents have exceeded 70 points against the Illini defense this year.
Illinois ranks 43rd nationally in defensive efficiency (96.3) and 35th in defensive free throw rate (32.4).
The UI starting five has clearly carried the scoring load, combining for 80.5 percent of Illinois' points on the season (1142 of 1418). That percentage ranks fifth nationally among teams from the major conferences.
Illinois is averaging just 55.7 points (334) on 34.6 percent shooting (125-361) during its current six-game slide. But Illinois' offense has shown what it is capable of, putting up an average of 74.3 points (297) on 41.6 percent shooting (99-238) during the previous four-game winning streak.
Rayvonte Rice ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring with a 16.7-point average. He has reached double figures in all but two games this season.
Joseph Bertrand is shooting 52.2 percent on 2-pointers (70-134) this season, while Rice is shooting 50.6 percent on 2s (87-172).
Nnanna Egwu, the Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker (62nd in NCAA), has recorded at least two blocks in 17 games.
Egwu ranks second in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding in conference play with an average of 2.9 rpg.
Freshman Kendrick Nunn is fifth on the team in scoring during Big Ten play, averaging 5.8 points. Nunn has registered 46 points in eight league contests after totaling 38 points in 13 non-conference games.
Malcolm Hill has logged double figure minutes in four of the last five home games, averaging 8.3 points (33) on 60 percent shooting (12-20) in those four games (Dartmouth, Penn State, Michigan State).
Mannie Jackson $3 Million Gift Adds Name to Illini Basketball Hall of Fame
Mannie Jackson broke down barriers as a Fighting Illini basketball player and student-athlete in the 1950s, and he is now helping lead the way in the Illinois Renaissance of State Farm Center with a $3 million gift. Jackson will be on campus this weekend and will be honored at halftime of Saturday night's game.
Jackson's gift will support the Mannie L. Jackson University of Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame at State Farm Center. Fighting Illini fans will be able to view a wide selection of basketball memorabilia as well as relive some of the magical moments and great accomplishments throughout the storied history of Illinois basketball.
Jackson's No. 30 jersey hangs from atop State Farm Center as part of the Illinois Basketball Honored Jerseys program. For more information on Jackson's gift and the Illinois Renaissance at State Farm Center, click here.
Autism Awareness Day
Feb. 1 is Autism Awareness Day in college basketball, and John Groce is one of nearly 100 coaches from across the country who will wear a blue "Autism Speaks" puzzle pin on his suit jacket during Saturday's game against Iowa. Towson head coach Pat Skerry and Marshall head coach Tom Herrion both have sons on the autism spectrum, and they have started a nationwide campaign among the coaching fraternity to raise awareness about the disorder.
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 six-game skid is the first he has faced in his six years as a head coach, with the previous long a four-game stretch during his second season at Ohio.
Groce also never encountered a slide greater than four games 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 six successive defeats. The first two occurred while he was an assistant coach at North Carolina State in 1997 (six games) and 2000 (seven).
Last Time Out: Indiana 56, Illini 46 (Jan. 26)
Illinois fought hard in Bloomington but could not get enough shots to fall in a 10-point loss to the Hoosiers. After trailing for much of the first half, the Illini went on a late 8-0 run to tie the game at 24 and entered the locker room down just 26-24.
Illinois took a 29-28 lead on a Jon Ekey 3-pointer, but the Hoosiers rattled off 12 unanswered to reclaim a 40-29 advantage with 13 minutes remaining. The Illini had another run in them, however, going on a 10-2 spurt to make it a three-point game at 42-39 with eight minutes left. Illinois then had the ball four times in the final five minutes trailing by six, but missed all four field goal attempts that would have cut into the deficit, and the Hoosiers hit their free throws to close it out.
Illinois owned a 19-to-7 advantage in points off turnovers, but were beaten on the boards, 42-to-28.
Rayvonte Rice was the lone Illini in double figures, scoring a game-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a career-high four 3-pointers (4-7).
The Last Meeting
March 5, 2013
Iowa City, Iowa
Looking Back at Last Year's Iowa Game:
Iowa 63, Illinois 55 // March 5, 2013 at Iowa City
The Illini could not get going on offense in an eight-point loss at Iowa. Illinois began the game hitting just 1-of-16 from the field over an 11-minute stretch. Illinois fought back from a 10-point deficit to take a 28-27 lead just before halftime, but entered the locker room down 31-28. The Illini had another field goal drought after the break, hitting just 1-of-12 to start the second half. That gave Iowa an 11-point lead, but the Orange and Blue rallied again, closing to with 48-46 with 4:30 left. Iowa then scored nine unanswered in the game's pivotal stretch on a pair of 3-pointers by Josh Oglesby and a 3-point play by Roy Devyn Marble. That put the Hawkeyes back up by 11 with 1:39 remaining.
The Illini shot 28.6 percent on the night (18-63). Illinois made nine three-pointers, equaling its season high in conference play, but managed just 26.5 percent shooting on 2-pointers (9-34). Brandon Paul led the Illini with 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while D.J. Richardson added 13 points.
Looking Back at the Last Iowa Game in Champaign:
Illinois 65, Iowa 54 // Feb. 26, 2012 at Champaign
Illinois snapped its six-game skid with an 11-point win over Iowa at the Assembly Hall. After the Hawkeyes scored the game's first five points, the Illini answered with a 13-0 run to take the lead for good. Illinois led by as many as 12 in the first half and after the Hawkeyes cut the lead to 38-34 with 13 minutes left, the Illini went on an 11-4 spurt to push the lead back to double figures with seven minutes remaining. One last Iowa push got the visitors to within five, but a 3-point play by Meyers Leonard followed by a Brandon Paul 3-pointer again gave the Illini a double figure lead and the hosts made 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute to close out the win.
Meyers Leonard led the Illini with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Brandon Paul scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half and D.J. Richardson also finished in double figures with 12 points.
Five on the Starting Five
1. Big Ten's sixth-leading scorer with average of 16.7 points.
2. Also leads Illini in steals (1.2 spg, 12th in Big Ten) and is three shy of team lead in rebounds (5.6 rpg).
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 14 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 19 of 21 games with seven 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career scoring leader with 1,334 points (includes two seasons at Drake).
1. Second on the team in scoring at 12.1 ppg, the best scoring average of his career (10.6 ppg last year).
2. Team leader in assists, averaging 3.2 per game (12th in Big Ten).
3. Scored in double figures in eight of last 11 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 771 points.
1. Team's third-leading scorer is averaging double figures for first time, a career-best 10.6 points.
2. Also has improved his rebounding, averaging career-best 5.3 boards this season.
3. Shooting 50.3 percent from the field, ranking 10th in the Big Ten.
4. Has made 42.4 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.
1. Graduate transfer from Illinois State ranks fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.0 points.
2. Knocked down 40 threes in 21 games after making a total of 31 treys in 33 games last season at ISU.
3. Average of 1.9 threes per game ranks eighth in Big Ten.
4. Illini's leading rebounder with average of 5.8 boards (15th in Big Ten).
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career rebounding leader with 553 boards (includes three seasons at ISU).
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. Second in Big Ten in offensive rebounds in conference play with 2.9 per game.
4. Just missed double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds Jan. 23 at Ohio State.
5. Started 57 of Illinois' last 60 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.
Complete Illinois-Iowa GAme Notes (PDF)