Men's Basketball
Game 31 Notes & Links: Illinois at #24 Iowa

Joseph Bertrand had 20 points (7-10 FG) in the Feb. 1 game against the Hawkeyes in Champaign.
Joseph Bertrand had 20 points (7-10 FG) in the Feb. 1 game against the Hawkeyes in Champaign.

March 7, 2014

 Game 31: Illinois (17-13, 6-11) at No. 24/25 Iowa (20-10, 9-8)
 When Saturday, March 8, 2014 | 7:30 p.m. CST
 Location Iowa City, Iowa | Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) | Seating Chart
 Tickets Buy Online
 Television BTN (Josh Lewin, PBP & Jim Jackson, analyst)
 Watch Online BTN2Go
 Listen Illini Sports Network | Listen (All-Access) | Sirius 85 / XM 85
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Iowa | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Iowa | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Jon Ekey | 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. 10.6 3.2 3.2 47-59 from FT line (79.7%) in B1G play
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 6.1 1.5 1.0 12.4 ppg & 17-34 3FG (50%) since starting
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 r-Jr. 15.8 6.1 1.6 Scored in double-figures 26 times this year
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 210 Fr. 4.2 2.3 0.6 Averaging 7.0 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. 9.0 4.2 0.7 Scored 20 pts (7-10 FG) in 2/1 Iowa game
G 10 Mike LaTulip 6-1 170 So. 1.0 0.3 0.2 3-of-9 from behind the arc
C 22 Maverick Morgan 610 250 Fr. 1.7 1.3 0.1 Shooting 58.8 percent from field
F 31 Austin Colbert 6-9 210 Fr. 1.4 0.8 0.2 Shooting 50.0 percent from the field
F 33 Jon Ekey 6-7 225 Gr. 7.2 5.2 0.3 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

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 125-82/.604 (6th year)
At Illinois: 40-26/.606 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 14-21/.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. Iowa
Series Record: Illinois leads 81-69
Series Streak: Iowa W-3
Record at Iowa City: Iowa leads 53-20
Series Streak at Iowa City: Iowa W-1
Last Meeting: #15/12 Iowa 81, Illinois 74 (Feb. 1, 2014 at Champaign)
Groce vs. Iowa: 0-2

Opening Tips
• Winners of three of its last four games and four of its last six, the Fighting Illini are closing out the regular season with three straight games against Top 25 opponents. No. 24 Iowa is the final game in this stretch, following the UI victory at No. 18 Michigan State and home loss to No. 12 Michigan.

• Illinois has won two straight road games and three of its last four heading into Saturday's contest at Iowa. The Illini are looking for their first three-game road winning streak in Big Ten play in four years (Jan. 27-Feb. 9, 2010).

• Prior to the Michigan game, Illinois' defense had held four straight opponents to less than 50 points. It marked the first time since the 1947 Big Ten season that the Illini held four consecutive league foes below 50 points (Jan. 6-25, 1947).

• Looking ahead to the Big Ten Tournament, seeds 7, 8, 9 and 11 are still in play for the Illini (details on P. 3).

Illini Trends
Rayvonte Rice is the only player in the Big Ten Conference currently leading his team in scoring (15.8 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and steals (1.5 spg) on the season.

• Rice's scoring average of 15.8 ppg ranks eighth in the Big Ten. He has reached double figures in all but four games, with nine 20-plus point performances on the season.

• Rice has scored in double figures in three straight games, and eight of the last 10. He had 16 points Tuesday vs. Michigan, his highest output in the last five games.

• Rice is averaging 7.2 rebounds over the last nine games (65) and has been the UI's top rebounder five times.

• Rice ranks second in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding in conference games (5.5 rpg).

Kendrick Nunn is averaging 12.4 points (87) in his seven games as a starter, shooting 50.8 percent from the field (32-63) and 50 percent from 3-point range (17-34).

• Nunn has scored in double figures four times as a starter, including three of the last four games.

Malcolm Hill is averaging 7.0 points (49) in his seven starts, on 48.5 percent shooting (16-33) and 44.4 percent from three (4-9).

Nnanna 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.

• Egwu ranks third in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding (2.4 rpg).

• Illinois has 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.

• The Illini are allowing an average of 62.8 points per game this season (second in Big Ten, 30th in NCAA).

• Illinois ranks 19th nationally in defensive efficiency (94.0).

• Over a four-game stretch before Michigan, Illini opponents averaged just 48.0 points.

• Illinois shot 45.5 percent from 3-point range during its recent three-game winning streak.

• Over the last four games, the Illini have totaled 38 steals (9.5 spg) and are averaging 17.8 points per game off turnovers (71).

• 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.

Facing the Ranked
No. 24 Iowa marks the 10th ranked opponent (AP poll) on the Illini schedule. Illinois is 2-7 against ranked teams this season - defeating No. 22 Missouri on Dec. 21 and No. 18 Michigan State on March 1 - and 6-15 overall against ranked foes under Coach John Groce.

The Illini are looking to record consecutive road wins over ranked opponents for the first time in nine years, since the No. 1 Illini won at No. 18 Wisconsin (Jan. 25, 2005) and No. 12 Michigan State (Feb. 1, 2005).

Illinois' Big Ten Tournament Scenarios
The Big Ten Tournament will be held next week at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Illinois will play in Thursday's opening round and has a seed range of either 7, 8, 9 or 11 entering this weekend. Here are the potential scenarios for the Illini:

    • If Illinois wins:
        - Illinois is the 9 if Minnesota wins. Illinois will play 8 Indiana.
        - Illinois is the 7 if Penn State and Michigan win. Illinois will play 10 Penn State.
        - Illinois is the 8 if Penn State and Indiana win. Illinois will play 9 Minnesota.

    • If Illinois loses:
        - Illinois is the 9 if Minnesota wins. Illinois will play 8 Indiana.
        - Illinois is the 11 if Penn State wins. Illinois will either play 6 Ohio State (if Michigan State wins OR Ohio State AND Nebraska win)
            or 6 Nebraska (if Ohio State and Wisconsin win).

Last Time Out: #12 Michigan 84, Illini 53 (March 4)
Michigan torched the nets at State Farm Center on Tuesday night en route to winning the outright Big Ten title. The Wolverines shot a blistering 69.6 percent from behind the arc, equaling the facility record with 16 three-pointers in 23 attempts. The Illini could not keep pace, despite shooting 54.2 percent in the first half. Illinois was outscored by 42 points from 3-point range, leading to the end of its three-game win streak.

Rayvonte Rice nearly fell one rebound shy of a double-double, leading the Orange and Blue with 16 points and nine boards. Kendrick Nunn, meanwhile, totaled 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Nunn Repeats Freshman of the Week Honors
Kendrick Nunn is the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second week in a row. 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 Nebraska 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 Michigan State.

Nunn is now the Illini's third-leading scorer in Big Ten play, averaging 8.5 points.

The Last Meeting
February 1, 2014
State Farm Center
Illini Fall to Iowa, 81-74
Rayvonte Rice scores 13 points and pulls down nine rebounds for the Illini.

Looking Back at the Last Iowa Game:

• #15/12 Iowa 81, Illinois 74 // Feb. 1, 2014 at State Farm Center
Illinois left it all on the line 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.

A Look Back at the Last Iowa Game in Iowa City:

• Iowa 63, Illinois 55 // March 5, 2013 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena
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.

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 rebounds (6.1 rpg, 11th in Big Ten) and steals (1.5 spg, eighth in Big Ten).
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 17 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 26 of 30 games with nine 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 5 active career scoring leader with 1,456 points (includes two seasons at Drake).

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring at 10.6 ppg.
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 836 points.

Nnanna Egwu
1. UI's fifth-leading scorer with 6.9-point average and second on team in rebounds at 6.0 rpg (12th 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 2.6 per game.
5. Started 66 of Illinois' last 69 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.

Kendrick Nunn
1. Third on team in scoring in Big Ten play, averaging 8.5 points.
2. Averaging 12.4 points over last seven games as a starter (87).
3. Scored a career-high 19 points in first career start at Penn State (Feb. 9) and again at Minnesota (Feb. 19).
4. Shooting 51.4 percent from the field (36-70) and 3-point range (18-35) over last nine 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 7.0 points over last seven games as a starter (49).
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. Combined for four 3-pointers against Nebraska (Feb. 26) and Michigan State (March 1).
5. Shooting 78.8 percent from the free throw line on the year (41-52).

Joseph Bertrand
1. Team's third-leading scorer is averaging a career-best 9.0 points.
2. Fourth on team in rebounding, averaging 4.2 boards.
3. Shooting 47.7 percent from the field (12th in the Big Ten).
4. Has made 39.1 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 7.2 points.
2. Knocked down 48 threes for the Illini after making a total of 31 treys last season at ISU.
3. Average of 1.6 threes per game ranks 12th 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 587 boards (includes three seasons at ISU).

Complete Illinois-Iowa Notes (PDF)