Men's Basketball
Illinois Big Ten Tournament Notes & Links

Rayvonte Rice is averaging 24.5 ppg in two meetings vs. IU this season.
Rayvonte Rice is averaging 24.5 ppg in two meetings vs. IU this season.

 Big Ten Tournament First Round: Illinois (18-13) vs. Indiana (17-14)
 When Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 11 a.m. CT
 Tournament Info Tournament Central | Bracket
 Location Indianapolis, Ind. | Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,345) | Fan Info
 Tickets Buy Online or call (800) 745-3000
 Television BTN (Kevin Kugler, Stephen Bardo & Stephanie White)
 Watch Online BTN2Go
 Illini Sports Network ISN Affiliates | Listen Online (Brian Barnhart & Jerry Hester)
 National Radio Compass Media Networks (Drew Bontadelli & Mike Wozniak) | SiriusXM 91
 Live Coverage Live Blog | GameTracker
 Printable Notes Illinois | Indiana | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Indiana | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Gross Press Conference | Jon Ekey | Malcolm Hill
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  #Illini | @IlliniAthletics | Facebook | YouTube

Kendrick Nunn was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team

 Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-2 190 Jr. 10.5 3.3 3.2 Scored in double-figures 18 times this year
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 6.2 1.5 1.1 12.1 ppg & 19-36 3FG (52.7%) as starter
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 r-Jr. 15.7 6.1 1.6 Averaging 24.5 ppg vs. IU this season
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 210 Fr. 4.0 2.3 0.6 Shooting 78.8% from FT line (41-of-52)
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 250 Jr. 7.1 6.0 0.4 2.8 off. rebs per game in conf. play led B1G
 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. 8.9 4.1 0.7 Shooting 47.9% from field (13th in B1G)
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 1.4 0.1 Shooting 58.3 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. 7.4 5.2 0.3 Game-winning 3 in final second at Iowa 3/8
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 11, 2014

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 126-82/.606 (6th year)
At Illinois: 41-26/.612 (2nd year)
Big Ten: 15-21/.417
Big Ten Tournament: 1-1/.500
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. Indiana
All-Time Series Record: Indiana leads 86-85
Series Record in Big Ten Tournament: Illinois leads 5-2
This Season's Meetings:  ILL 83, IND 80, OT (Dec. 31 at Champaign) and IND 56, ILL 46 (Jan. 26 at Bloomington)
Groce vs. Indiana: 2-2

Illini Big Ten Tournament Notes
• Illinois has the second-most all-time Big Ten Tournament (BTT) wins with 24.

• The Illini also own the second-best all-time BTT winning percentage at .632 (24-14).

• Illinois has won two BTT championships (2003 and 2005), one of five conference schools to win multiple titles.

• Illinois also has the second-most BTT championship game appearances, having advanced to the title game six times.

• Illinois has advanced to the BTT semifinals 12 times, the most semifinal appearances of any school.

• Illinois is appearing in Thursday's opening round for the third straight year, but just the sixth time overall in the 17-year history of the BTT. Illinois is 4-1 in BTT opening round games.

• Illinois has received the 9 seed for the second time. Illinois is making its third-straight appearance in the 8-9 opening round game after not appearing in that game during the first 14 years of the BTT.

• Illinois is 0-1 in the BTT as a 9 seed, and 8-9 in BTT games when seeded lower.

• Illinois is 8-8 in the BTT in Indianapolis.

• Illinois has faced Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament more than any other league foe. This marks the Illini's eighth BTT match-up with the Hoosiers. Illinois is 5-2 against Indiana in the BTT. The teams most recently met in last year's BTT quarterfinal, an 80-64 victory by the top-seeded Hoosiers over the eighth-seeded Illini. Illinois' last win over Indiana in the BTT came in the 2007 quarterfinal, a 58-44 overtime victory by the sixth-seeded Illini over the third-seeded Hoosiers.

• Only three current Illini players have BTT experience, with senior Joseph Bertrand and juniors Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu each appearing in three BTT games over the last two seasons. Abrams is the Illini's active BTT scoring leader with 25 points, while Bertrand has 23 and Egwu 10.


Illini Improve Again Under Groce
Illinois went 5-4 during the second half of conference play, a dramatic turnaround from the half-way point of the league season when the Illini owned a record of 2-7. Illinois totaled three more wins in the second portion of the Big Ten season compared to the first, one of the best improvements in school history. Only two Illini teams in the modern era recorded a better win-improvement during the second half of league play than this year's squad. One of those was John Groce's inaugural UI team last season, which posted a +4 improvement to equal the best mark first set by the 1988 Illini squad.

Nunn Named to Big Ten All-Freshman Team; Rice Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
The Big Ten men's basketball All-Conference teams and individual award winners were announced Monday. Illinois rookie Kendrick Nunn was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, while junior Rayvonte Rice was an honorable mention All-Big Ten honoree by the league coaches and media.

Nunn earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team after improving throughout the season. He was the Illini's third-leading scorer in conference play, averaging 8.6 points. Nunn shot 47.1 percent from the field, and was sixth in the league in 3-point shooting at 43.9 percent. He moved into the starting lineup last month and averaged 12.1 points over the final eight games of the regular season. Nunn scored in double figures in five of those starts, setting a season-high with 19 points at Penn State (Feb. 9) and matching that effort with 19 at Minnesota (Feb. 19). On the season, Nunn is averaging 6.2 points and shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc.

Rice was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection after carrying a heavy load for the Illini and standing as the only player in the conference to lead his team in points, rebounds and steals on the season. He is averaging 15.7 points, ranking eighth in the league in scoring. He has scored in double figures 27 times with nine 20-plus point performances, led by a career-high 29 points vs. Indiana (Dec. 31). Rice is 10th in the league in rebounding, averaging 6.1 boards. He also ranks seventh in the conference in steals with an average of 1.6 per game. Rice was named Big Ten Player of the Week twice, earning the honor on Dec. 2 and again Dec. 30.

Illini Items
• Illinois enters the Big Ten Tournament on a hot streak, winning four of its last five games. It is the first time in eight years that the Illini ended conference play by winning four of its last five (2006).

• Three of those four wins came on the road, as Illinois won its last three road games of the Big Ten season for the first time in 10 years, since the 2004 UI squad won five straight away from home.

• With the victories at No. 18 Michigan State (March 1) and No. 24 Iowa (March 8), the Illini recorded 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 won four road games and three home games during Big Ten play. This is the first time since 1999 that the Illini recorded more road wins than home wins in conference action.

• With the 66-63 victory at Iowa, the Illini are now 6-1 on the season in games decided by five points or less, and 13-3 overall under Coach John Groce.

• Illinois has limited the opponent to 65 points or less in 17 of its 18 wins this season, and 24 of its last 25 wins dating back to Feb. 10 of last year. The 83-80 win over Indiana on Dec. 31 is the only UI victory where the opponent topped 65 points.

• The Illini are allowing an average of 62.8 points per game on the season (second in Big Ten, 31st in NCAA).

• Illinois ranks 16th nationally in defensive efficiency (93.8).

• Prior to the Michigan game on March 4, Illinois' defense 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).

• Over that four-game stretch (Feb. 15-March 1), Illini opponents averaged just 48.0 points.

• In its last six wins, Illini opponents have averaged 52. 8 points (317).

• Illinois' defense has averaged 9.2 steals over the last five games (46).

• The Illini have made at least seven 3-pointers in each of its last six wins.

• Illinois has four victories this season where it overcame double-digit deficits (10-at UNLV, 11-IPFW, 13-vs. UIC, 11-at Minnesota), and eight overall under Groce.

• Illinois is 12-0 this season when shooting better than its opponent, and 25-1 overall under Groce.

• Illinois is 9-2 this season and 23-4 overall under 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 six of its losses.

Rayvonte Rice is the only player in the Big Ten Conference leading his team in scoring (15.7 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and steals (1.6 spg) on the season.

• Rice's scoring average of 15.7 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 averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals against Indiana this season.

• Rice has scored in double figures in four straight games, and nine of the last 11.

• Rice is averaging 7.0 rebounds over the last 10 games (70) and has been the UI's top rebounder five times.

• Rice has totaled 13 steals over the last four games, an average of 3.3 steals per game.

• Rice ranked second in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding in conference games (5.4 rpg).

Kendrick Nunn is averaging 12.1 points (97) over the eight games in the starting lineup. He has scored in double figures five times as a starter, including four of the last five games.

• Nunn is shooting 54.1 percent from both the field (40-74) and 3-point range (20-37) over the last 10 games.

Nnanna Egwu is the Big Ten's No. 2 shot blocker (54th in NCAA), averaging 2.1 bpg. His season total of 66 blocks currently ranks second on the Illini all-time single-season list.

• Egwu leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounding (2.5 rpg).

• Egwu is averaging 9.2 points (46) and 6.4 rebounds (32) over the last five games. His rebounding average improves to 8.3 rpg over the last seven games.

Jon Ekey is averaging 7.2 points over the last five games (36) on 53.8 percent shooting (14-26) and 43.8 percent 3-point shooting (7-16).

Notes from the Last Time Out: Illini 66, #24 Iowa 63 (March 8)
1. Jon Ekey hit a game-winning three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. It was the first buzzer-beating, game-winning shot at any level of Ekey's career. The senior finished with 12 points and six rebounds, hitting 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc.

2. The Illini defense returned to its recent form, holding the Hawkeyes to their lowest point total of the season (63). Iowa's previous low output was 67 points at Michigan on Jan. 22.

3. The Fighting Illini shot out to leads of 8-0 and 20-6 early, but Iowa roared back to lead 34-29 at the half. The Hawkeyes opened up a six-point lead, 54-48, at the 11:17 mark of the second half, but the Orange and Blue responded with an 11-0 run over the next 4:40 to lead 59-54 with 6:37 left. The Illini outscored the Hawkeyes 18-9 over the final 11:17 of the game.

4. Illinois improved to 6-1 this season in games decided by five points or less.

5. Illinois shot 46.3 percent from the field (25-of-54), its second-best shooting game during Big Ten play. The Illini held the Hawkeyes to 44.4 percent shooting to improve to 12-0 this season when outshooting their opponent.

6. Rayvonte Rice had 15 points to lead the Illini in scoring for the 17th time this season. He also had five rebounds and four steals, marking the third time in the last four games he has at least four steals.

7. Nnanna Egwu tied his season-high with 14 points (5-of-9 FG) while tying Ekey for the team-high in rebounds with six.

8. Kendrick Nunn was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from behind the arc for 10 points, and also dished out a team-high four assists.

Looking Back at This Season's Indiana Games:

The Last Meeting
January 26, 2014
Bloomington, Ind.
Hoosiers Hold Off Fighting Illini, 56-46
Illinois was led by Rayvonte Rice with 20 points but lost its sixth straight on Sunday, falling to Indiana 56-46 on the road.

Dec. 31: Illini 83, Indiana 80, OT // Champaign, Ill.
1. The Illini held the Hoosiers to one field goal over the final 11:44. After Yogi Ferrell hit a three with 6:44 remaining in the second half, IU did not make another basket until Ferrell connected on a three with four seconds remaining in overtime.

2. Rayvonte Rice scored his most points as an Illini with 29, matching his career high from Drake (vs. Central Arkansas on 12/21/11). Rice hit a season-high 11-of-15 free throws, including the final two of the contest that sealed the three-point win.

3. Rice registered his sixth 20-point game of the season. He also had a team-high eight rebounds, leading the Orange and Blue on the glass for the fourth time this year.

4. Tracy Abrams turned in an efficient effort, hitting 8-of-12 from the field for 17 points.

5. The back-and-forth contest had 12 lead changes along with 17 ties, the most in an Illini game this season.

6. Illinois forced a season-high 23 turnovers, marking the most since forcing 24 turnovers against Northern Colorado on Dec. 12, 2010. UI notched 12 steals and posted a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

7. Illinois outscored Indiana 32-12 in points in the paint, marking a season-high +20 advantage.

Jan. 26: Indiana 56, Illini 46 // Bloomington, Ind.
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).

Five Facts on the Following Illini

Rayvonte Rice
1. Big Ten's eighth-leading scorer with average of 15.7 points.
2. Also leads Illini in rebounds (6.1 rpg, 10th in Big Ten) and steals (1.6 spg, seventh in Big Ten).
3. Has been the UI's top scorer in 18 games.
4. Scored in double figures in 27 of 31 games with nine 20-plus point performances.
5. Big Ten's No. 5 active career scoring leader with 1,471 points (includes two seasons at Drake).

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring at 10.5 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 75.4 percent from the free throw line on the season (98-130).
5. Illini's active career scoring leader with 843 points.

Nnanna Egwu
1. UI's fifth-leading scorer with 7.1-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 2.1 blocks, up from average of 1.4 blocks last season.
3. Total of 66 blocks currently ranks second on the UI all-time single-season list.
4. Leads Big Ten in offensive rebounds with average of 2.5 per game.
5. Started 67 of Illinois' last 70 games dating back to the end of his freshman campaign.

Kendrick Nunn
1. Third on team in scoring in Big Ten play, averaging 8.6 points.
2. Averaging 12.1 points over last eight games as a starter (97).
3. Scored a career-high 19 points in first career start at Penn State (Feb. 9) and again at Minnesota (Feb. 19).
4. Shooting 54.1 percent from the field (40-74) as well as 3-point range (20-37) over last 10 games.
5. Continues tradition of Simeon products wearing No. 25 jersey at Illinois in honor of Ben Wilson.

Malcolm Hill
1. Averaging 6.1 points over last eight 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 8.9 points.
2. Fourth on team in rebounding, averaging 4.1 boards.
3. Shooting 47.9 percent from the field (13th in the Big Ten).
4. Has made 38.3 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 7.4 points.
2. Knocked down 51 threes for the Illini after making a total of 31 treys last season at ISU.
3. Average of 1.6 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 593 boards (includes three seasons at ISU).

Complete Illinois Big Ten Tournament Notes (PDF)