Men's Basketball
Game 23 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Wisconsin

Joseph Bertrand is coming off a 20-point performance (7-10 FG) against Iowa on Saturday.
Joseph Bertrand is coming off a 20-point performance (7-10 FG) against Iowa on Saturday.

Feb. 3, 2014

 Game 23: Illinois (13-9, 2-7) vs. Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5)
 When Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 | 8 p.m. CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center (16,618) | Fan Guide | Parking Map
 Tickets Single-game Tickets | Seating Chart
 Promotions Peter Rabbit the Bucket Drummer | Basketball Promotions
 Television BTN (Dave Revsine, PBP and Shon Morris, analyst)
 Watch Online
 Listen Illini Sports Network | Listen (All-Access) | Sirius 91 / XM 91
 Live Stats Gametracker | Mobile Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Wisconsin | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Wisconsin | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Groce Press Conference | Rayvonte Rice | Tracy Abrams | Joseph Bertrand
 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. 12.0 3.6 3.1 81.3% from FT line in B1G play (26-32)
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 r-Jr. 16.5 5.8 1.8 Leads team in scoring and rebounding
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 200 r-Sr. 11.0 5.2 0.7 Averaging 14.4 ppg in last 5 vs. Badgers
F 33 Jon Ekey 6-7 225 Gr. 8.0 5.7 0.2 Leads team in made threes (41)
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 250 Jr. 7.0 5.5 0.3 7th all-time at Illinois in blocks (116)
 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 2.4 2.2 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 2.2 0.5 Team-best 80% from FT line (28-35)
C 22 Maverick Morgan 610 250 Fr. 1.6 1.4 0.1 Shooting 55.6 percent from field
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 4.1 1.3 0.8 5.9 ppg in Big Ten play
F 31 Austin Colbert 6-9 210 Fr. 1.5 1.0 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: 121-78/.608 (6th year)
At Illinois: 36-22/.621 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 10-17/.370
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. Wisconsin
Series Record: Illinois leads 110-80
Series Streak: Wisconsin W-6
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 68-23
Series Streak at Champaign: Wisconsin W-2
Last Meeting: #4/4 Wisconsin 95, #23/- Illinois 70 // Jan. 8, 2014 at Madison
Groce vs. Wisconsin: 0-3

Opening Tips
• Illinois concludes a five-game stretch against four ranked opponents, facing No. 24 Wisconsin (coaches poll) on Tuesday at State Farm Center. Illinois plays a total of nine games against currently ranked Big Ten teams, tied with Minnesota for most in the conference.

• Illinois is 1-5 against ranked teams so far this season - defeating No. 25 Missouri (coaches poll) on Dec. 21 - and 5-13 overall against ranked opponents under Coach John Groce.

Joseph Bertrand has scored in double figures in each of his last five games against Wisconsin, averaging 14.4 points against the Badgers (72). Bertrand had 18 points last month at Madison.

• Tuesday's match-up features two of the three Big Ten players who lead their teams in both scoring and rebounding in Rayvonte Rice (16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Wisconsin's Sam Dekker (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg). The other is Northwestern's Drew Crawford. Rice also leads the Illini in steals (1.2 spg), the only player in the conference to rank first on his team in all three categories.

Illini Items
Joseph Bertrand is coming off a 20-point performance Saturday against Iowa. Bertrand shot 7-of-10 from the field and made all five free throw attempts to tie his season high in scoring and mark his second career 20-point game in conference play (career-high 25 points vs. Nebraska on Jan. 7, 2012).

• Over the last two games, Rayvonte Rice has averaged 16.5 points (33) on 47.8 percent shooting (11-23) and 45.5 percent from 3-point range (5-11). This followed an unusual 4-game stretch for Rice where he averaged just 7.8 points on 23.3 percent shooting and 22.2 percent from three.

• Over the last three games, Nnanna Egwu has averaged 8.0 points (24) on 54.5 percent shooting (12-22). This followed a four-game stretch where he totaled 10 points on combined 5-of-26 from the field.

• The Illini scored 74 points against Iowa on Saturday, but fell for just the second time this season when scoring 70-plus points. Illinois is now 9-2 this season and 23-4 overall under Coach John Groce when reaching the 70-point marker.

• Illinois' offense was much improved versus Iowa. The 74 points was its most in seven games (75 vs. Penn State, 1/4), the 44.6 percent shooting was its best in eight games (.449 vs. Indiana, 12/31), and the 40 percent accuracy from 3-point range was its best in 13 games (.522 vs. Auburn, 12/8).

• Illinois has either led or been tied with seven minutes or less in six of its nine losses:

   Led at Georgia Tech, 64-60, with 1:09 remaining.
   Led vs. Oregon, 59-58, with 3:30 remaining.
   Tied at Northwestern, 34-34, with 7:00 remaining.
   Led Purdue, 52-51, with 6:00 remaining.
   Tied at Ohio State, 46-46, with 6:00 remaining.
   Led Iowa, 70-68, with 5:00 remaining.

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

• 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 16 percent ranks 41st nationally.

• The Illini are allowing an average of 64.1 points per game this season (fourth in Big Ten, 35th in NCAA).

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

• Illinois ranks 41st nationally in defensive efficiency (96.7) and 43rd in defensive free throw rate (33.4).

• The UI starting five has clearly carried the scoring load, combining for 80.5 percent of Illinois' points on the season (1201 of 1492). That percentage ranks fifth nationally among teams from the major conferences.

Rayvonte Rice ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring with a 16.5-point average. He has reached double figures in all but two games this season.

Joseph Bertrand is shooting 53.1 percent on 2-pointers (76-143) this season, while Rice is shooting 50 percent on 2s (90-180).

Nnanna Egwu, the Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker (62nd in NCAA), has recorded at least two blocks in 18 games.

• Egwu ranks second in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding in conference play with an average of 2.6 rpg.

• Freshman Kendrick Nunn is fifth on the team in scoring during Big Ten play, averaging 5.9 points. Nunn has registered 53 points in nine league contests after totaling 38 points in 13 non-conference games.

Malcolm Hill has logged double figure minutes in five of the last six home games, averaging 8.0 points (40) on 58.3 percent shooting (14-24) in those five games (Dartmouth, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa).

Last Time Out: #15 Iowa 81, Illini 74 (Feb. 1)
Illinois left it all on the line on Saturday night against No. 15 Iowa, but the Hawkeyes eventually claimed a seven-point victory to win in Champaign for the first time since 1999.

It was all Iowa at the start, as the visitors raced out to a 34-13 lead with 7:30 left in the first half. Illinois then dominated the next 18 minutes and 30 seconds, hitting 19-of-27 shots over that stretch while outscoring the Hawkeyes 53-to-27. That resulted in a 26-point swing, as the Illini erased the 21-point deficit and grabbed a 66-61 lead with nine minutes remaining. But Iowa closed strong to earn the win, outscoring the Illini 20-to-8 over the last nine minutes while holding the Illini to just one basket.

The statistics for both teams were nearly identical, except for the rebounding category. Iowa outrebounded the Illini 41-to-28 and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, converted those into 20 second-chance points.

Joseph Bertrand tied his season high with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Rayvonte Rice finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, and Tracy Abrams added 11.

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 seven-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 second time in a career spanning more than 700 games that Groce has experienced a string of seven successive defeats. The first occurred during his final season as an assistant coach at North Carolina State in 2000.

Looking Back at the Last Wisconsin Game:

• #4 Wisconsin 95, #23 Illini 70 // Jan. 8, 2014 at Madison
Wisconsin lived up to its No. 4 ranking, handing the Illini a decisive defeat at the Kohl Center. Illinois trailed 13-10 early when the Badgers went on a 20-0 run over a six-minute stretch to grab a commanding lead that proved too much for the Illini to overcome.

Illinois shot just 31.6 percent, missing a number of shots at the rim. The Badgers, meanwhile, made 56.1 percent - a season high against the Illini defense - and also hit 23-of-33 free throws. Illinois did control the glass, outrebounding Wisconsin 48-to-35 and grabbing a season's best 25 on the offensive end.

Rayvonte Rice scored a game-high 19 points with nine rebounds and Joseph Bertrand tallied 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with nine boards to lead the Illini.

A Look Back at the Last Wisconsin Game in Champaign:

• Wisconsin 74, Illinois 68 // Feb. 3, 2013 at Champaign
Illinois played well enough offensively but had defensive breakdowns that led to Wisconsin earning a 74-68 victory in Champaign. Wisconsin had entered the game allowing an average of 52.9 points in Big Ten play, with only one conference opponent topping 60. The Illini surpassed those averages with 68 points, shooting 51 percent on 2-pointers (26-51) to offset a rough day from behind the arc (2-13). The Illini shot 54 percent in the second half alone, and had just nine turnovers on the day.

But Wisconsin also found a groove offensively, hitting nearly 56 percent in the second half. The Badgers also went to the foul line with regularity for easy scoring opportunities. Wisconsin had 42 free throw attempts on the afternoon, 31 coming in the second half alone off of 18 second-half UI fouls. The Badgers scored 28 points at the line in its 42 attempts.

Illinois had five players score in double figures, led by Joseph Bertrand, who scored a season-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds. Nnanna Egwu had 14 points and seven boards, Brandon Paul finished with 13, and Tracy Abrams and D.J. Richardson added 10 apiece.

Five on the Starting Five

Rayvonte Rice
1. Big Ten's sixth-leading scorer with average of 16.5 points.
2. Also leads Illini in rebounds (5.8 rpg, 15th in Big Ten ) and steals (1.2 spg, 11th in Big Ten)
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 14 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 20 of 22 games with seven 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career scoring leader with 1,347 points (includes two seasons at Drake).

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring at 12.0 ppg, the best scoring average of his career (10.6 ppg last year).
2. Team leader in assists, averaging 3.1 per game (12th in Big Ten).
3. Scored in double figures in nine of last 12 games, led by season-high 22 points vs. Missouri (Dec. 21).
4. Shooting 75.2 percent from the free throw line on the season (76-101).
5. Illini's active career scoring leader with 782 points.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Team's third-leading scorer is averaging double figures for first time, a career-best 11.0 points.
2. Also has improved his rebounding, averaging career-best 5.2 boards this season.
3. Shooting 51.4 percent from the field, ranking eighth in the Big Ten.
4. Has made 44.1 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 8.0 points.
2. Knocked down 41 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 second-leading rebounder with average of 5.7 boards (16th in Big Ten).
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career rebounding leader with 558 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. Second in Big Ten in offensive rebounds in conference play with 2.6 per game.
4. Just missed double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds Jan. 23 at Ohio State.v 5. Started 58 of Illinois' last 61 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.

Complete Illinois-Wisconsin Game Notes (PDF)