Men's Basketball
Game 26 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. No. 22/20 Ohio State

Nnanna Egwu tied his career high with 12 rebounds at Nebraska on Wednesday.
Nnanna Egwu tied his career high with 12 rebounds at Nebraska on Wednesday.

Feb. 14, 2014

 Game 26: Illinois (14-11, 3-9) vs. No. 22/20 Ohio State (19-6, 6-6)
 When Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 | 7 p.m. CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center (16,618) | Fan Guide | Parking Map
 Tickets Single-game Tickets | Seating Chart
 Promotions Firecrackers Jump Rope Team | Basketball Promotions
 Television BTN (Brian Anderson, PBP and Shon Morris, analyst)
 Watch Online
 Listen Illini Sports Network | Listen (All-Access) | Sirius 112 / XM 198
 Live Stats Gametracker | Mobile Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Ohio State | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Ohio State | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Groce Press Conference | Nnanna Egwu | Jon Ekey | Malcolm Hill
 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. 11.1 3.5 3.2 Illini active career scoring leader (795 pts)
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 4.9 1.4 0.8 14.0 ppg since entering starting lineup
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 r-Jr. 16.8 6.0 1.7 Scored 20+ nine times this season
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 210 Fr. 3.8 2.2 0.5 9.5 ppg since entering starting lineup
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 250 Jr. 6.8 5.6 0.4 16 p, 8 r in last years home win over OSU
 Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Jaylon Tate 6-3 160 Fr. 2.3 1.0 2.2 2.3 assist/turnover ratio
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 200 r-Sr. 10.4 4.7 0.7 19 pts (7-10 FG) in 1/23 game at OSU
G 10 Mike LaTulip 6-1 170 So. 1.1 0.3 0.2 Hitting .429 from behind the arc
C 22 Maverick Morgan 610 250 Fr. 1.6 1.5 0.1 Shooting 56.7 percent from field
F 31 Austin Colbert 6-9 210 Fr. 1.6 0.9 0.2 Shooting 48.0 percent from the field
F 33 Jon Ekey 6-7 225 Gr. 7.7 5.4 0.2 Leads team in made threes (44)
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: 122-80/.604 (6th year)
At Illinois: 37-24/.607 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 11-19/.367
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. Ohio State
Series Record: Illinois leads 104-72
Series Streak: Ohio State W-2
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 61-25
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-2
Last Meeting:   #17/15 Ohio State 62, Illinois 55 (Jan. 23, 2014 at Columbus)
Groce vs. Ohio State: 1-2

Opening Tips
• Illinois returns to State Farm Center on Saturday night, hosting No. 22 Ohio State. It is Illinois' lone home game in a current four-game stretch that began with back-to-back trips to Penn State and Nebraska and is followed by a visit to Minnesota.

• This is the third game in six days for the Illini, who last played three games in less than a week Jan. 12-18 (at Northwestern-Purdue-Michigan State).

• Illinois is aiming to snap a four-game home skid and defeat a ranked Ohio State squad for the third consecutive season in Champaign.

• Illinois' defense has limited the opponent to 65 points or less in 13 of its 14 victories this season, and 20 of its last 21 wins dating back to Feb. 10 of last year.

Rayvonte Rice is the only player in the Big Ten Conference currently leading his team in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (6.0 rpg) and steals (1.3 spg) on the season.

Facing the Ranked
No. 22 Ohio State marks the seventh ranked opponent (AP poll) on the Illini schedule. Illinois is 1-5 against ranked teams this season - defeating No. 22 Missouri on Dec. 21 - and 5-13 overall against ranked foes under Coach John Groce.

Illinois plays a total of nine games against currently ranked Big Ten teams, tied with Minnesota for most in the conference.

Illinois' last home win over a ranked opponent was last season's 74-72 buzzer-beater over No. 1 Indiana (Feb. 7, 2013).

Schedule Updates
• Time for the Illinois at Michigan State game March 1 has been moved to 3 p.m. CT on ESPN/2.

• Date/Time/TV has been selected for the Illinois at Iowa game. It will be held March 8 at 7:30 p.m. CT on BTN.

Last Time Out: Nebraska 67, Illini 58 (Feb. 12)
Illinois once again was within striking distance late into the game, but could not get over the hump in a nine-point loss Wednesday at Nebraska.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Illini grabbed a 40-34 lead early in the second half. Nebraska promptly responded with a 10-0 run to take a four-point lead with 12:48 remaining. The Illini continued to hang around, finding themselves in familiar position of a one-possession game, trailing 52-49 with less than seven minutes left. That's when the Huskers pulled away, outscoring the Illini 10-to-1 over the next four minutes to open up a 62-50 advantage with only two minutes left on the clock.

Nebraska made just one more field goal than the Illini, but the Huskers shot 44.2 percent compared to Illinois' 36.7 percent accuracy. The hosts also did a better job capitalizing at the line, hitting 24-of-27 while the Illini made just 18-of-26. Illinois did a good job on the glass, grabbing 14 offensive boards and outrebounding the Huskers 36-28.

Rayvonte Rice was the only Illini player in double figures, scoring 23 points. Nnanna Egwu tied his career high in rebounding with 12 boards.

Illini Items
• Illinois is 9-2 this season and 23-4 overall under Coach John Groce when reaching the 70-point marker.

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

• Illinois is 5-1 in games decided by five points or less, and 12-3 overall under Groce.

• Illinois is 9-0 when shooting better than its opponent, and 22-1 overall under Groce.

• Illinois has either led or been tied with seven minutes or less in six of its 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 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 38th nationally.

• The Illini are allowing an average of 64.3 points per game this season (fourth in Big Ten, 39th in NCAA).

• Illinois ranks 46th nationally in defensive efficiency (97.7).

Rayvonte Rice ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring with a 16.8-point average. He has reached double figures in all but three games on the season.

• Rice has nine 20-plus point performances this season, including three in the last five games. He is averaging 17.8 points over this five-game stretch (89).

Kendrick Nunn is averaging 14.0 points (28) in his two games as a starter, while Malcolm Hill is averaging 9.5 points (19) in his two starts. Over the last two games, they are shooting a combined 53.3 percent (16-30).

Nnanna Egwu is the Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker (55th in NCAA), avearaging 2.2 bpg. His current season total of 55 blocks ranks fifth on the Illini all-time single-season list. Egwu is on pace to finish second on that list.

The Last Meeting
Ohio State62
January 23, 2014
Columbus, Ohio
Illini Edged by Buckeyes, 62-55
Joseph Bertrand led all scorers with 19 points and Nnanna Egwu had 10 points and nine boards in the loss at Ohio State. Box Score |

Looking Back at the Last Ohio State Game:

#17 Ohio State 62, Illini 55 // Jan. 23 at Value City Arena
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.

A Look Back at the Last Ohio State Game in Champaign:

• #11/14 Illinois 74, #8/8 Ohio State 55 // Jan. 5, 2013 at Assembly Hall
• The 19-point win over No. 8 Ohio State marked Illinois' largest margin of victory over a top-10 opponent in close to 50 years, dating back to Dec. 4, 1964, when the Illini defeated No. 2 UCLA, 110-83.
• The last time Illinois defeated a top-10 Big Ten opponent by a larger margin was on Feb. 20, 1954, when Illinois defeated No. 10 Iowa, 74-51.
Nnanna Egwu had a career-high 16 points, shooting a career-best 7-for-10 from the field and adding a team-high eight rebounds.
• Ohio State entered the game averaging just 10.3 turnovers. However, the Buckeyes turned the ball over 16 times against the Illini, including 11 in the first half alone. Illinois scored 17 points off of turnovers.
• The Illini defense held the Buckeyes to 55 points, its lowest output since scoring 51 in a Feb. 18, 2012 loss at Michigan.

Five Facts on the Following Illini

Rayvonte Rice
1. Big Ten's sixth-leading scorer with average of 16.8 points.
2. Also leads Illini in rebounds (6.0 rpg, 12th in Big Ten) and steals (1.3 spg, 10th in Big Ten)
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 16 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 22 of 25 games with nine 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 5 active career scoring leader with 1,403 points (includes two seasons at Drake).

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring at 11.1 ppg, the best average of his career (10.6 ppg last season).
2. Team leader in assists, averaging 3.2 per game (12th in Big Ten).
3. Scored in double figures in 15 games, led by season-high 22 points vs. Missouri (Dec. 21).
4. Shooting 74.3 percent from the free throw line on the season (84-113).
5. Illini's active career scoring leader with 795 points.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Team's third-leading scorer is averaging double figures for first time, a career-best 10.4 points.
2. Also has improved his rebounding, averaging career-best 4.7 boards this season.
3. Shooting 49.7 percent from the field, ranking seventh in the Big Ten.
4. Has made 44.7 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 7.7 points.
2. Knocked down 44 threes in 25 games after making a total of 31 treys in 33 games last season at ISU.
3. Average of 1.8 threes per game ranks 10th in Big Ten.
4. Illini's third-leading rebounder with average of 5.4 boards (16th in Big Ten).
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career rebounding leader with 568 boards (includes three seasons at ISU).

Nnanna Egwu
1. Illini's fifth-leading scorer with 6.8-point average.
2. Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker is averaging 2.2 blocks, up from average of 1.4 blocks last season.
3. Total of 55 blocks currently ranks fifth on the UI all-time single-season list.
4. Second in Big Ten in offensive rebounds in conference play with 2.7 per game.
5. Started 61 of Illinois' last 64 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.

Kendrick Nunn
1. Fourth on team in scoring in Big Ten play, averaging 7.1 points.
2. Averaging 14.0 points over last two games as a starter.
3. Scored a career-high 19 points in first career start at Penn State (Feb. 9).
4. Shooting 56 percent from the field (14-25) and 46.2 percent from 3-point range (6-13) over the last four games.
5. Continues tradition of Simeon products wearing No. 25 jersey at Illinois in honor of Ben Wilson (details p. 12).

Malcolm Hill
1. Averaging 9.5 points over last two games as a starter.
2. Scored a career-high 11 points in first career start at Penn State (Feb. 9).
3. Has logged double figure minutes in five straight games, and nine of the last 11.
4. Eight games of seven-plus points, including six during Big Ten play.
5. Shooting 81.4 percent from the free throw line on the year.

Complete Illinois-Ohio State Game Notes