Men's Basketball
Senior Night Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #12 Michigan

 
Jon Ekey and Joseph Bertrand will be honored on Senior Night.
Jon Ekey and Joseph Bertrand will be honored on Senior Night.
 

 Game 30: Illinois (17-12, 6-10) vs. No. 12/12 Michigan (21-7, 13-3)
 When Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 6 p.m. CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center (16,618) | Fan Guide | Parking Map
 Tickets Family 4-Pack | Single-game Tickets | Seating Chart
 Promotions Senior Night | Halftime: Illini Cheerleaders | Basketball Promotions
 Television ESPN (Mike Tirico, PBP and Dan Dakich, analyst)
 Watch Online WatchESPN.com
 Listen Illini Sports Network | Listen (All-Access) | Sirius 92 / XM 190
 Live Stats Gametracker | Mobile Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Michigan | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Michigan | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Groce Press Conference | Joseph Bertrand | Nnanna Egwu
 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. 10.9 3.3 3.2 15 assists and 7 steals in last 3 games
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 5.8 1.5 1.1 Back-to-back B1G Frosh of Week
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 r-Jr. 15.8 6.0 1.6 Scored in double-figures 25 times this year
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 210 Fr. 4.2 2.3 0.6 Averaging 7.7 ppg as a starter
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 250 Jr. 6.9 6.0 0.4 65 blocks ranks 2nd on UI single-season list
 Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Jaylon Tate 6-3 160 Fr. 2.0 1.0 2.0 2.1 assist/turnover ratio
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 200 r-Sr. 9.2 4.3 0.7 Shooting team-best .409 from 3-point range
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. 1.5 1.3 0.1 Shooting 59.4 percent from field
F 31 Austin Colbert 6-9 210 Fr. 1.5 0.8 0.2 Shooting 50.0 percent from the field
F 33 Jon Ekey 6-7 225 Gr. 7.3 5.2 0.2 Leads team in made threes (48)
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

March 3, 2014

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 125-81/.607 (6th year)
At Illinois: 40-25/.615 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 14-20/.412
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. Michigan
Series Record: Illinois leads 85-76
Series Streak: Michigan W-5
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 54-25
Series Streak at Champaign: Michigan W-2
Last Year's Meetings: #2/3 MICH 74, ILL 60 (1/27/13 at Champaign) and #7/7 MICH 71, ILL 58 (2/24/13 at Ann Arbor)
Groce vs. Michigan at Illinois: 0-2
Groce vs. Michigan All-Time: 1-2

Opening Tips
• Illinois plays its final home game of the season on Tuesday, hosting No. 12 Michigan. The Wolverines have already clinched a share of the Big Ten title, owning a two-game lead in the standings entering the final week.

• The Illini are closing out the regular season with three games against Top 25 opponents. The 12th-ranked Wolverines are the second game in that stretch, following the UI victory at No. 18 Michigan State. The Illini finish at No. 24 Iowa on Saturday.

• The Illini have won four of six and carry a three-game winning streak into Tuesday's match-up with Michigan. This is Illinois' longest conference winning streak since claiming five in a row last season (Feb. 7-21, 2013).

• Illinois' defense has held each of its last four opponents to less than 50 points. It is the first time since the 1947 Big Ten season that the Illini have held four straight league foes below 50 points (Jan. 6-25, 1947). • Over the last four games, Illini opponents are averaging just 48.0 points. Illinois is second in the Big Ten in scoring defense on the season at 62.0 ppg.

• Following the 53-46 victory over Michigan State on Saturday, Illinois has now limited the opponent to 65 points or less in 16 of its 17 wins this season, and 23 of its last 24 wins dating back to Feb. 10 of last year.

• Illinois is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range during its current three-game winning streak. The Illini shot 30.8 percent from behind the arc over the previous 26 games.

• Illinois has made at least eight three-pointers in each of its last three games after doing so only four times through the first 26 contests.

• The Illini have totaled 34 steals over the last three games and are averaging 20.7 points per game off turnovers over this stretch.

• The Illini have registered at least 12 assists in each of the last three games after doing so only once through the first 13 Big Ten games.

• Looking ahead to next week's Big Ten Tournament, seeds seven through 12 are still in play for the Illini.

Senior Night
Illinois' final home game against Michigan also is Senior Night at State Farm Center. Here is a look at the two departing seniors who will be honored before Tuesday's game from the Fighting Illini Class of 2014: Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey.

Bertrand has played in 111 career games, earning 42 starts. He has scored 748 points and grabbed 360 rebounds over his four-year tenure. Bertrand is third on the team in scoring this season with an average of 9.2 points. He has scored in double figures in 15 games, led by a season-high 20 versus Iowa (Feb. 1) and Jacksonville State (Nov. 10). He is shooting 47.9 percent from the field, ranking 13th in the Big Ten.

Bertrand earned a bachelor's degree in recreation, sport and tourism last August and is now working toward a second degree in agricultural leadership education.

Ekey is in his first season with the Illini after joining the program as a graduate transfer. He has played in every game this year, starting 23 times. He is fourth on the Illini in scoring with an average of 7.3 points, and third on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.2 boards. Ekey also leads the team with 48 three-pointers, ranking 10th in the Big Ten with an average of 1.7 treys per game. Ekey has scored in double figures in eight games, led by back-to-back 19-point performances versus Bradley (Nov. 17) and Chicago State (Nov. 22). Ekey is pursuing a master's degree in recreation, sport and tourism.

Family 4-Pack Ticket Offer for Michigan Game
The Illinois Ticket Office has introduced a special ticket promotion for the final home game of the season Tuesday versus Michigan. The Family 4-Pack offer includes four tickets for just $40, an outstanding value to support the Fighting Illini and see the final home game for seniors Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey. Family 4-Pack tickets can be purchased online at fightingillini.com.

TICKET SPECIAL: 4 tickets for $40 vs. Michigan on Tuesday

Facing the Ranked
No. 12 Michigan marks the ninth ranked opponent (AP poll) on the Illini schedule. Illinois is 2-6 against ranked teams this season - defeating No. 22 Missouri on Dec. 21 and No. 18 Michigan State on March 1 - and 6-14 overall against ranked foes under Coach John Groce.

The Illini have dropped three games against ranked teams this season at State Farm Center . Illinois' last home win over a ranked opponent was last year's 74-72 buzzer-beater over No. 1 Indiana (Feb. 7, 2013).

Nunn Repeats Freshman of the Week Honors
Kendrick Nunn is the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second week in a row, earning the honor following Illinois' victories over Nebraska and Michigan State. Nunn averaged 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists last week and shot 62.5 percent from 3-point range (5-8). He led the Illini with 13 points against the Huskers to go along with three rebounds and three assists. He then had eight points, a team-high six rebounds and career-high four assists against the Spartans.

Nunn is now the Illini's third-leading scorer in Big Ten play, averaging 8.1 points.

Notes from the Last Time Out: Illini 53, Michigan State 49 (March 1)
1. Illinois won its third consecutive game and second straight road game, and recorded its third road win in its last four road appearances.

2. It also was the 900th Big Ten win for the Illini, making them the first conference team to reach 900 B1G victories.

3. This was the first win for the Illini at Michigan State since 2006, but the fourth there since 2002. Illinois left the Breslin Center victorious in 2002, 2005, 2006 and now 2014, which is tied with Ohio State for the most by an opposing team over the last 13 seasons.

4. It was the Illini's first road win over a ranked team since winning at No. 18 Minnesota last year (Feb. 10, 2013).

5. The Illini defense continued to dominate, holding its fourth-straight opponent under 50 points. It is the first time since the 1947 Big Ten season that the Illini have held four straight foes below 50 points (Jan. 6-25, 1947).

6. The 46 points by Michigan State was its lowest scoring total in a Big Ten game since losing at Illinois, 42-41, on Jan. 31, 2012. It marked MSU's lowest point total at home since Nov. 8, 2006 (45-36 win over Brown), and lowest point total at the Breslin Center in a Big Ten game since Jan. 4, 1997 (68-43 loss to Minnesota).

7. Illinois racked up 14 steals on the day, the most in a game since Jan. 2, 2010, vs. Gonzaga (15). Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams both had five steals against the Spartans, setting a career high for Rice and tying a career high for Abrams.

8. The Illini nearly led wire-to-wire and trailed only once for a total of 58 seconds. Illinois used an 11-2 run early in the game to turn a 10-7 lead into a 21-9 advantage at the 10:31 mark. After MSU tied it at 28 at halftime and took a 30-28 lead just seconds into the second half, the Illini responded with a 12-2 run to open up a 40-32 lead with 15:26 remaining. The Spartans got no closer than three the rest of the way.

9. Illinois shot 47.7 percent from the field (21-of-44), its best shooting game during Big Ten play and highest since hitting 52.0 percent against Dartmouth on Dec. 10, 2013. The Illini held the Spartans to 39.1 percent shooting to improve to 11-0 this season and 24-1 overall under Groce when out-shooting their opponent.

10. The Illini forced 16 Michigan State turnovers, the most they've forced in a game since Indiana had 23 in the conference opener on Dec. 31. Despite having 15 turnovers of their own, the Illini held a 25-9 advantage in points off turnovers, their highest differential of the season in that category (+16).

11. Freshman Malcolm Hill had 10 points, his second straight game in double-figures and the fourth of his career. He was joined in double-figures by Abrams (12 points) and Rice (10 points).

12. Fellow freshman Kendrick Nunn continued his solid play as of late, scoring eight points, pulling down a game- and career-high six rebounds, and tying his career-high with four assists. He also hit 2-of-4 from behind the arc, bringing his three-point shooting to 53.3 percent (16-of-30) since entering the starting lineup six games ago.

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 11-0 when shooting better than its opponent, and 24-1 overall under Groce.

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

• The Illini are allowing an average of 62.0 points per game this season (second in Big Ten, 21st in NCAA).

• Illinois ranks 14th nationally in defensive efficiency (94.2).

• Illinois has done a good job of taking care of the basketball, averaging just 10.4 turnovers per game (fourth in Big Ten, 35th in NCAA).

Kendrick Nunn is averaging 12.2 points (73) in his six games as a starter, while Malcolm Hill is averaging 7.7 points (46) in his six starts. They are shooting a combined 50.6 percent (41-81) in the starting lineup.

Rayvonte Rice ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring with a 15.8-point average. He has reached double figures in all but four games on the season. Rice has nine 20-plus point performances, including three in the last eight games.

• Rice is averaging 7.0 rebounds over the last eight games (56) and has been the UI's top rebounder four times.

• Rice also has recorded 9 steals over the last two games.

Nnanna Egwu is averaging 9.2 rebounds over the last five games (46).

• Egwu is the Big Ten's No. 2 shot blocker (54th in NCAA), averaging 2.2 bpg. His season total of 65 blocks currently ranks second on the Illini all-time single-season list.

Tracy Abrams has totaled 15 assists over the last three games, averaging 5.0 apg.

Jon Ekey is shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point range over the last three games (4-9).

Looking Back at Last Year's Michigan Games:

The Last Meeting
Illinois58
Michigan71
February 24, 2013
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Illinois Winning Streak Snapped at No. 7 Michigan
Trey Burke had 26 points and eight assists to help No. 7 Michigan bounce back from a slow start to beat Illinois 71-58 Sunday.

• #2/3 Michigan 74, Illinois 60 // Jan. 27, 2013 at Champaign
Illinois battled with No. 2 Michigan, but could not get enough shots to fall against the Wolverines. The Illini shot 37.1 percent, going 23-of-62 from the field. Michigan, meanwhile, lived up to its billing as one of the nation's most efficient offensive teams with 52.5 percent shooting. Illinois also was plagued by 15 turnovers which the Wolverines converted into 22 points.

Brandon Paul was one of three Illini to score in double figures, leading the way with 15 points. D.J. Richardson had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Tracy Abrams added 10 points. Nnanna Egwu, meanwhile, grabbed a game-high 10 boards.

• #7/7 Michigan 71, Illinois 58 // Feb. 24, 2013 at Ann Arbor
The Illini excelled in the first half but tapered off in the second half at No. 7 Michigan, snapping its five-game winning streak. Illinois led 31-28 at the break thanks to eight offensive rebounds that the UI converted into 13 second-chance points. The Wolverines adjusted after the break, holding the Illini without an offensive board in the second half. And points off turnovers became the story, as Michigan scored 27 points off 13 Illinois turnovers. Illinois was still within striking distance, trailing by four with seven minutes remaining. But the Wolverines went on a 9-0 run to make it a 13-point game with five minutes left and the Illini could not cut into the deficit during the closing stretch.

Illinois' guard trio of D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Tracy Abrams led the way with 10 points apiece while Tyler Griffey and Nnanna Egwu added nine each.

Current Illini vs. Michigan

Tracy Abrams (4 G): 8.3 ppg (33), 3.3 rpg (13)
Highlights: 10 points and five rebounds last year at Ann Arbor ... 10 points last year in Champaign ... 12 points and five rebounds in 2012 in Champaign.

Nnanna Egwu (4 G): 4.8 ppg (19), 4.3 rpg (17)
Highlight: Nine points, five rebounds and two blocked shots last year in Ann Arbor ... Game-high 10 rebounds last year in Champaign.

Joseph Bertrand (4 G): 4.0 ppg (16), 2.5 rpg (10)
Highlights: Six points and three assists in 2012 in Champaign ... Five rebounds in 2012 in Ann Arbor.

Five Facts on the Following Illini

Rayvonte Rice
1. Big Ten's eighth-leading scorer with average of 15.8 points.
2. Also leads Illini in steals (1.6 spg, eighth in Big Ten) and tied for team lead in rebounds (6.0 rpg, 11th in Big Ten)
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 16 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 25 of 29 games with nine 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 5 active career scoring leader with 1,440 points (includes two seasons at Drake).

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring at 10.9 ppg, the best average of his career (10.6 ppg last season).
2. Team leader in assists, averaging 3.2 per game (13th in Big Ten).
3. Scored in double figures in 18 times, and has been Illini's leading scorer in seven games.
4. Shooting 75.8 percent from the free throw line on the season (97-128).
5. Illini's active career scoring leader with 834 points.

Nnanna Egwu
1. UI's fifth-leading scorer with 6.9-point average and team leader in rebounds, averaging 6.0 rpg (11th in Big Ten).
2. Big Ten's No. 2 shot blocker is averaging 2.2 blocks, up from average of 1.4 blocks last season.
3. Total of 65 blocks currently ranks second on the UI all-time single-season list.
4. Second in Big Ten in offensive rebounds in conference play with 2.8 per game.
5. Started 65 of Illinois' last 68 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.

Kendrick Nunn
1. Third on team in scoring in Big Ten play, averaging 8.1 points.
2. Averaging 12.2 points over last six games as a starter (73).
3. Scored a career-high 19 points in first career start at Penn State (Feb. 9) and again at Minnesota (Feb. 19).
4. Shooting 50 percent from the field (30-60) and 54.8 percent from 3-point range (17-31) over last eight games.
5. Continues tradition of Simeon products wearing No. 25 jersey at Illinois in honor of Ben Wilson (details p. 14).

Malcolm Hill
1. Averaging 7.7 points over last six games as a starter (46).
2. Scored a career-high 11 points in first career start at Penn State (Feb. 9).
3. 10 games of seven-plus points, including eight during Big Ten play.
4. Made four straight 3-point attempts over the last two games.
5. Shooting 80 percent from the free throw line on the year (40-50).

Joseph Bertrand
1. Team's third-leading scorer is averaging a career-best 9.2 points.
2. Fourth on team in rebounding, averaging 4.3 boards.
3. Shooting 47.9 percent from the field (13th in the Big Ten).
4. Has made 40.9 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 7.3 points.
2. Knocked down 48 threes for the Illini after making a total of 31 treys last season at ISU.
3. Average of 1.7 threes per game ranks 10th in Big Ten.
4. Illini's third-leading rebounder with average of 5.2 boards (19th in Big Ten).
5. Big Ten's No. 6 active career rebounding leader with 584 boards (includes three seasons at ISU).

Complete Illinois-Michigan Game Notes (PDF)

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