Game 14 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Indiana
Dec. 30, 2013
Series Notes vs. Indiana
Illini in Big Ten Openers
Looking Back at Last Year's Indiana Games:
Illinois 74, #1 Indiana 72 // Feb. 7, 2013 at Champaign, Ill.
That's when Illinois made its charge, closing the game on a 13-2 run. After a Brandon Paul free throw cut it to eight, D.J. Richardson rattled off eight straight points on a pair of 3-pointers and a step-back 19-footer that tied the game at 70 with 1:19 left. Victor Oladipo put Indiana back up by two with a layup, the Hoosiers' only basket in the game's final five minutes. Paul then hit a pair of free throws to tie it at 72 and set up the exciting final series. Indiana held for the last shot, but Oladipo lost control of the ball and Richardson picked it up and raced down court and attempted a layup that Oladipo blocked out of bounds.
The Illini were out of timeouts with only nine-tenths of a second remaining. Paul was the inbounder and he took his time surveying the court before Tyler Griffey broke free cutting toward the basket. Paul threw a bounce pass into the empty lane where Griffey caught it in stride and made the uncontested layup. The horn sounded as the ball went through the net, and the Orange Krush poured onto the court to celebrate.
Richardson led the Illini with a game-high 23 points, while Paul added 21 and Griffey 14.
#3 Indiana 80, Illinois 64 // March 15, 2013 at Chicago, Ill.
Illinois faced a 14-point deficit at the half after shooting 7-for-27 in the first 20 minutes. The Illini more than doubled their scoring output in the second half, shooting 13-of-31 for 42 percent accuracy. But it seemed that every time the Illini would cut the deficit to 10, the Hoosiers answered with a basket. The Illini cut the deficit to eight points (60-52) at the 8-minute mark, but could get no closer down the stretch.
Current Illini vs. Indiana:
Tracy Abrams (3 G): 8.0 ppg (24), 2.3 rpg (7), 2.3 apg (7)
Joseph Bertrand (4 G): 5.8 ppg (23), 2.0 rpg (8)
Nnanna Egwu (3 G): 2.3 ppg (7), 3.3 rpg (10), 1.7 bpg (5)
Rice Earns Second Big Ten Weekly Honor
This is the second Big Ten weekly award for Rice, following his recognition on Dec. 2.
The Illini are hosting a game on New Year's Eve for the first time in 31 years, since defeating Loyola-Chicago, 73-72, on Dec. 31, 1982.
Illinois is 24-3 in regular season non-conference play under Coach John Groce, adding this year's 11-2 record to last season's 13-1 mark. It is the best two-year run for the Illini prior to Big Ten play since combining for a 26-3 mark in 2005-06 (14-0) and 2006-07 (12-3).
Illinois fought back from a 13 point deficit - its largest of the season - to defeat UIC, 74-60, Saturday at the United Center. It marked the third game this season, and seventh time in two years under Groce, that Illinois has won after trailing by double digits.
Illinois is 7-0 this season when scoring at least 70 points, and 21-2 overall under Groce when reaching the 70-point marker.
Following the 65-64 victory over Missouri (Dec. 21), Illinois improved to 3-0 this season in games decided by one or two points, and 8-0 overall under Groce.
The Illini are allowing an average of just 60.6 points per game (second in Big Ten, 14th in NCAA) on 40.2 percent shooting (fifth in Big Ten, 61st in NCAA).
Illinois stands out in a number of defensive categories, ranking 25 nationally in defensive efficiency (94.5), 43rd in defensive 2-point percentage (43.3) and 10th in defensive free throw rate (27.3).
Oregon is the only team to reach the 70-point marker against the Illini this season. The UI had held each of its first 10 opponents to less than 70 points, accomplishing the feat for the first time in eight years, since the 2005-06 UI squad did so in the first 16 games.
After holding Oregon 20 points below its season scoring average, the Illini then held Missouri 15 points below its season average.
The starting five has clearly carried the scoring load, combining for 81.9 percent of Illinois' points on the season (758 of 926).
Junior transfer Rayvonte Rice is the first Illini newcomer to score in double figures in each of his first 13 games since Kenny Battle did so in his first 13 games in 1987-88, also as a junior transfer (Northern Illinois).
The Big Ten's No. 2 scorer with an 18.2-point average, Rice has averaged 19.9 points (159) over the last eight games, led by a season-high 28 points against UIC on Saturday.
Rice now has five 20-plus point games this year.
Rice is shooting 59.6 percent on 2-pointers this season (65-109).
Rice is one of only two Big Ten players to score at least 12 points in every game this year, along with Penn State's D.J. Newbill.
Tracy Abrams is averaging 18.0 points over the last three games (54). It is the highest total of his career over three consecutive games, toppling the 52 he combined for last season against Auburn, Purdue and Ohio State (Dec. 29-Jan. 5).
Over the three-game stretch, Abrams is shooting 50 percent on 2-pointers (14-28) and 81 percent on free throws (17-21) and averaging 5.7 points alone at the line.
Abrams' season-high 22-point effort against Missouri marked his first 20-point game since tallying a career-best 27 points against Auburn last year at the United Center (Dec. 29, 2012).
Abrams has shot 28 free throws over the last four games, including 10 attempts against Missouri, the most by an Illini this season.
Joseph Bertrand has shot 50 percent or better in each of the last seven games. Over that stretch, Bertrand is shooting 56.3 percent from the field (27-48).
Bertrand is shooting 55.6 percent from 3-point range this season (10-18) after entering his senior season as a career 31.3 percent shooter from behind the arc (20-64).
Jon Ekey collected his 500th career rebound versus Oregon on Dec. 14, becoming one of just six active Big Ten players with 500 boards (current total of 510 includes his last three years at Illinois State).
Nnanna Egwu, the Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker, has recorded at least two blocks in 11 of 13 games this year.
Freshman Jaylon Tate ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th in the NCAA with an assist/turnover ratio of 3.5 (39 assists, 11 turnovers).
Freshman Kendrick Nunn's playing time has increased lately, averaging 17.3 minutes over the last three games (52). Nunn has made an impact on the defensive end, combining for six steals during the three-game stretch, led by a game-high three steals vs. Missouri.
Last Time Out: Illini Conclude Non-Conference Play with 74-60 Win Over UIC (Dec. 28)
The Illini trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half and went in to the locker room down by 10, equaling the UNLV game for the UI's largest halftime deficit. The Flames led 44-34 after torching the nets with 62 percent shooting and 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
But the Illini roared back after intermission, scoring the first eight points in just 1:04, and extending that to a 31-11 run to take a 65-55 lead midway through the second half. Illinois ended up outscoring UIC 40-16 in the second half, with the Flames' 16 points marking the fewest allowed by the Illini defense in a half this season.
The Illini came back from a double-digit deficit to win for the third time this season, and seventh time in two seasons under Groce.
Rayvonte Rice has his best performance yet in an Illini uniform, scoring a season-high 28 points, including 16 in the second half during the UI comeback. He just missed his collegiate career high of 29 set in 2011 at Drake. Rice also led the Illini with seven rebounds and took over on defense as well. After UIC's Kelsey Barlow had 18 first-half points, Rice defended Barlow in the second half and limited him to three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Five on the Starting Five
Holiday Big Ten Mini-Pack Tickets Still On Sale
In addition to the Big Ten Mini-Pack, tickets are still available for all remaining Illinois home games. Single-game tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Illinois Ticket Office at 1-866-Illini-1.