Former Illinois standouts Jack Ingram and Roger Powell Jr. returned to Illinois Saturday night to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 Final Four team that won a school record 37 games.
With two games to play in the regular season, Illinois appears to be in control of its own NCAA tournament destiny. Illini head coach John Groce praised his team's toughness and execution after Saturday night's 86-60 win over Northwestern, saying it was one of Illinois' best performances of the season.
Illinois scored early and often and buried Northwestern 86-60. The Illini needed a win and got it in a big way to improve their record to 18-11 and 8-8 in the Big Ten. Five Illini scored in double figured. Rayvonte Rice had a game-high 19 points. Illinois hosts Nebraska on Wednesday.
The Illinois women's basketball team wrapped up the regular season with a 72-60 win over Michigan on Senior day. Freshman Chatrice White had a team season-high with 30 points. The Illini earn a bye in this week's Big Ten Tournament.
WCIA 3's Bret Beherns gives an inside look at the Orange Krush as they traveled to watch the Illini play at Iowa.
Aaron White scored 29 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead Iowa over Illinois 68-60. Rayvonte Rice scored 20 points, while Ahmad Starks scored 19 in a losing effort.
Illinois lost to Michigan State Saturday 60-53. Malcolm HIll scored 17 points, while Rayvonte Rice added 15 in a losing effort. Illinois shot just 28.8% from the field and made just two out of sixteen three-point field goals. The Illini fall to 17-10 (7-7)
The Illinois women's basketball team rallied from a 13 point deficit to beat Purdue 47-46 Saturday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini wrestling team has a big weekend on tap. They're off to Iowa City for the quarterfinals of the NWCA National Duals. Eight of the best wrestling teams in the country will be there competing for a championship. Illinois is the No. 7 seed. They will take on second-ranked and undefeated Missouri Saturday as the Illini go for their sixth consecutive win.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Lou Henson won nearly 800 games as a college basketball head coach. He went to two Final Fours, and he retired as the all-time winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State. Tuesday he was elected to into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball team is off to it's best start in 15 years. Illinois (4-0) leads the Big Ten in ERA, and what's even more impressive is they did it without their ace Kevin Duchene. Head coach Dan Hartleb announced Monday Duchene has been suspended. He did not make the trip to Texas over the weekend, and he won't compete this weekend. Duchene won the Big Ten ERA title last season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Monday was the first day on the job for Illinois' new co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Mike Phair. Phair was introduced last week after 13 seasons in the NFL. He will share defensive coordinator responsibilities with Tim Banks. Phair was excited to get down to work. He said he hadn't really considered getting back into the college game until Tim Beckman approached him about the job.
Madison, Wis. -- Frank Kaminsky scored a game high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Wisconsin to a 68-49 win over Illinois Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
The Illinois women's tennis team topped Marquette 5-2 Sunday afternoon at Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana. The Illini also beat Chicago State 6-1 Sunday evening.
The Illinois baseball team beat Lamar 9-3 Sunday afternoon at the Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas to start the season 4-0 for the first time in 15 years.
The Illinois wrestling team advanced to the NWCA National Dual Finals with a shutout victory, 38-0, over Kent State Sunday afternoon at Huff Hall.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois used a 21-0 run down the stretch to erase a seven-point second half deficit and outlast Michigan 64-52 in front of more than 17,000 orange-clad fans at State Farm Center. Illinois did not get much production out of Rayvonte Rice in his first game back from suspension, but Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill once again led the way when Illinois needed points the most. Nunn scored a game-high 21 points - none bigger than his three-pointer with 1:22 left to play that tied the game at 50. The Illini scored the final seven points of regulation and then first 14 points of overtime to put away the Wolverines. Illinois improves to 17-8 overall, 7-5 in the Big Ten.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois head coach John Groce wouldn't tip his hand Wednesday when it comes to his plans for Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby. Groce again told reporters the two remain indefinitely suspended ahead of Thursday night's game against Michigan. Rice and Cosby have missed the last three games after being suspended for violating team rules. Rice hasn't played since January 3rd when you include the time he missed with a broken hand.
CHICAGO, Ill. - Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said Tuesday the decision to move three home football games to Soldier Field in Chicago is a 'win-win' for the program and it's fans. Thomas held a news conference in Chicago Tuesday, where he talked about playing three games over the next five years at Soldier Field against Northwestern. He said the move makes sense financially, it adds excitement to the rivalry with the Wildcats, and it could help in recruiting as well. "Not only for our current kids knowing that while they're here in that 4-5 year window they're going to play two or three games here, it's significant, but it's also something you can sell because a lot of kids don't have the opportunity to play in an NFL venue," Thomas said. "And not only an NFL venue, a historic NFL venue like Soldier Field."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's basketball team will go for it's fourth straight win Thursday night against Michigan. With seven games left in the regular season the NCAA Tournament is as realistic a goal as it has been in months. Nnanna Egwu says his goal is to help make that a reality for most of his teammates, who have never experience the Big Dance. "Me, Tracy [Abrams] and [Mike LaTulip] are really the only three that's ever been to the NCAA Tournament, so it's kind of hard to really set a goal for NCAA Tournament when you've never really been there before," said Egwu. "So I think it's our job as seniors to kinda get everyone motivated to get on the same path."
E. LANSING, Mich. - The Illinois basketball team continues to pop up in even more NCAA bracket projections after Saturday's win at Michigan State. It was Illinois' best road win of the season and just another resume-building win to add on top of victories over Baylor and Maryland. The key now, though, is to keep that momentum going, and head coach John Groce is hoping they have turned the corner. "Hopefully they've learned at this point that just because you did it in the previous game or five games ago or for 28 minutes in a certain game, it's not like waiving a magic wand and all of a sudden we'll have it again on Thursday," Groce said. "You have to make a conscious choice to be mentally and physically tough and get focused on one play at a time."
CHICAGO - Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has said from the beginning he wants to make a commitment to being a part of the city of Chicago. Monday the athletic department and football program took another step toward making that a reality. Illinois announced it will move three of the next five football games against Northwestern to Soldier Field in Chicago. Those games will take place this fall, and then again in 2017 and 2019. All three were scheduled to be home games for Illinois, but instead they have decided to move those home games to the home of the Chicago Bears.
E. LANSING, Mich. - The Illinois basketball team is on a roll. They have won three games in a row and are making a strong push for an NCAA Tournament spot. There is still a lot of basketball left to be played, but Illinois is building it's resume nicely. They are now above .500 in league play at 6-5, and they know how important each game is as they hit the stretch run of the season. Winning at Michigan State Saturday gives the Illini their first signature road win. "At the end of the day I'm doing whatever I can to make [the NCAA Tournament]," said senior Nnanna Egwu. "Whatever coach asks of me that's what I'm gonna do. And to be honest the way hill and these young guys are playing its fun to watch, and I'm just happy to be apart of it. But at the end of the day we gotta use them and still strive for the same patterns and same goal."
Illinois won at MSU Saturday 59-54. Nnanna Eguw played 39 minutes scoring 12 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn each played 37 minutes. Hill scored 19 points, while Nunn added 14.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Jacqui Grant scored a game-high 29 points as Illinois ran away from Minnesota 95-69 to snap a seven-game losing streak. Ivory Crawford scored 23 points in her second game back from injury, while Kyley Simmons added 22 points.
Illinois quarterback Aaron Bailey talks with WCIA 3's Bret Beherns about his decision to transfer, and he has a message for Illini fans.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois quarterback Aaron Bailey has been granted his release from the school and will look to transfer, he confirmed to WCIA 3. "I want to be happy. That's the bottom line," Bailey said. "I just want to play football, play quarterback, and just want to get that opportunity to play again like I did before in high school. It's a great thing. At first it seems like a bad thing, but it's a great thing because I get a second chance so to speak to display my talents." The Bolingbrook-native just finished his sophomore season at Illinois, struggling to find consistent playing time during each of his first two seasons in Champaign. Bailey was one of the top dual-threat quarterback recruits in the country in high school, but he never really seemed to fit into offensive coordinator Bill Cubit's system. Bailey, who was an all-state quarterback, was unwilling to consider switching positions. "Hearing coach Cubit talk, Aaron didn't fit his system," said Bailey's father O Carter. "He felt he would never get the chance to display what he has [at Illinois]."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy has been suspended one game by the NCAA for providing extra benefits to a student-athlete. An Illinois spokesman says the incident stems from Bellamy personally arranging for a junior college athlete to take a placement exam - in lieu of credit hours - in order to finish his associates degree. The NCAA interpreted Bellamy's involvement as an "extra benefit." The university self-reported the violation, and Bellamy will miss next year's season opener against Kent State.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It turns out football might not be Cameron Watkins' best sport. Just a day after the three-star athlete signed to play football at Illinois, presumably as a defensive back, the university announced the Pearl-Cohn Magnet star will also compete for the school's track and field program. Watkins' specialty is the long jump. "Cam is a big-time athlete," said recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh on the university's website. "He's got all the tools - got the explosiveness, got the speed obviously and really a long DB which is when you're recruiting defensive backs you're looking at guys who have length and speed and he's got both of those." It appears those tools have served Watkins well. He has developed into one of the most well-rounded track athletes in the state of Tennessee. As a junior last season, he advanced to the state finals in four events. He won the long jump state title, finished third in the decathlon, sixth in the high jump and fifth in the 100 meter dash. Watkins' championship-winning long jump distance last season, 7.03m, is further than any Illinois athlete jumped last season, meaning he could immediately be Illinois' top long jumper the moment he steps on campus.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois is playing itself back into the NCAA Tournament discussion. They've done it by winning five of their last eight Big Ten games - all without their best player Rayvonte Rice. "I think we're getting into a rhythm," said sophomore Kendrick Nunn, who scored a game-high 21 points in Illinois' win over Rutgers Tuesday night. "It's February, and it's time to start to minimize our mistakes and play our best basketball." "We've just kind of taken it one day at a time," said head coach John Groce. "I appreciate the fact that they let us coach them and that they're willing to adapt and adjust maybe from some of our original schemes to try to make us as competitive as we can considering some of the roster change."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman had a pretty solid recruiting class lined up ahead of National Signing Day, but as the decisions were made and the letters kept coming in Wednesday morning, the class kept getting better. It was a class ranked as low as tenth in the Big Ten on Tuesday, but by Wednesday afternoon it had risen all the way up to No. 6 in the Big Ten and top 50 in the country according to a number of scouting services. "Our coaching staff took the exact same frame of mind when we hit this last month knowing we had some important positions to fill, and that's exactly what they did," Beckman said. "They got after it as if it was the football season, and they did exactly what they did to finish off a pretty good class."
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman addresses the media on National Signing Day
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois sophomore Kendrick Nunn scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Illini past Rutgers 66-54. John Groce's team finished the first half on a 16-4 run, opening up a lead as large as 17 points early in the second half. In addition to Nunn three other Illini scored in double figures: Malcolm Hill (15), Ahmad Starks (13) and Leron Black (12). Illinois improves to 15-8 overall and 5-5 in the Big Ten.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Even with two national titles to his name Jesse Delgado doesn't have to look for motivation. "It's not too hard to be motivated to win a national title," Delgado said. "It's something special, and every year only one person per weight gets to do that so I don't think it's much more than that." Delgado became the first Illinois wrestler in 56 years to win back-to-back NCAA titles. Now he is trying to become the first in school history to make it three in a row. He knows it won't be easy though. "I think you always have to get better, evolve a little bit or people are going to catch up to you," he said. "That's for anybody, not just me. I don't think I have to change more than I changed last year or the year before that or the year before that."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It appears Illinois will still be without Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby for Tuesday's game against Rutgers. Head coach John Groce would not get into any details at a news conference Monday, but he did say the two are still under an indefinite suspension for violating team rules. Groce originally announced the suspensions for Rice and Cosby about an hour before Saturday's game against Penn State. He didn't what rules they broke - only that they would be out indefinitely. Groce reiterated that Monday, saying the two have been practicing with the team, but they will continue to be held out of game action. "They're indefinitely suspended, and that's where it's at," Groce said. "That's between me and them."
Malcolm Hill made a lay up with under five seconds left to lead Illinois to a 60-58 win over Penn State Saturday. Hill scored a game-high 27 points. Illinois announced before the game Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby have been indefinitely suspended after violating team rules.
LINCOLN, Neb. - Chatrice White tied a career-high with 23 points on a career-best four 3-PT, but it came in a losing effort as Illinois fell to No. 15 Nebraska 59-57.
URBANA, Ill. - Brandon Ngai was the type of guy Illinois men's gymnastics coach Justin Spring was hoping to find while recruiting. "We needed a [pommel] horse guy," Spring said. "He says he's into aerospace engineering. I came in as an aerospace engineer, and my dad was an astronaut. There was an immediate connection with this kid. We started talking on the phone, a really good conversation." Everything was good until Ngai told Spring he was only 15 years old.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois head coach John Groce says it is possible both Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby could return to the lineup for Saturday's game against Penn State. Groce made the comments at a news conference Thursday. He would not guarantee they would be back, but he did say it is a possibility the two could be back on the court this weekend against the Nittany Lions.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois ace Kevin Duchene says he is 100% healthy, and he is showing no ill-effects after he was sidelined for six weeks last season with tightness in his forearm. Duchene pitched well when he came back from that injury at the end of last season; in fact he won the Big Ten ERA title. He also pitched a full, healthy summer in the Cape Cod League. The former freshman All-American is 13-2 in his Illinois career with an ERA of 2.39, and he is looking forward to a big junior season. "Getting hurt last year was kind of an eye-opener," he said. "You never know when those things are gonna come, so I just tried to get my body in peak physical form to try to avoid anything like that again. I would say that I tried to refine my change-up a little bit to both sides of the plate, try and open up the inside part of the dish a little bit more for my fastball."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Oakwood grad Casey Fletcher is ready for his last season with the Illinois baseball team. The senior, and son of former Major Leaguer Darrin Fletcher, made a huge impact in his first season in orange and blue last year. Fletcher hit .308 with six home runs and 27 RBI as a junior. Now he is looking for even more success this year, both individually and as a team. "It all started with the offseason," Fletcher said. "I knew I had to come in here and get bigger, faster, and stronger. I did some good things last year, but I think I need to come out and have a big year this year. We have a lot of upperclassmen, a lot of senior leaders, so we'll be able to get the job done this year. I'm feeling pretty confident about this team." Fletcher leads an Illini offense that returns five players who hit .295 or better last year.
URBANA, Ill. - The Hiltzik brothers have each been playing tennis since about age two. Even though they're two grades a part it makes for plenty of good stories. "We once played each other in a local tennis tournament, and my mom told him to tank the second set so I would win," said Aron, a freshman at Illinois. H"e beat me 7-6 in the third set so it was pretty funny." "I won the first set, and my mom told me to lose the second set," older brother Jared recalls. "I started crying and everything because I didn't want to do that because I was very competitive at that young of an age."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The season opener is less than three weeks away for the Illinois baseball team. The orange and blue are as confident as they have been in quite some time. They return basically their entire starting lineup and starting rotation. If the first day of practice is any indication, they're already ahead of the game. "Usually your first day back at things there's a number of errors, things you have to clean up," said head coach Dan Hartleb. "We were sharp. Again it's just a good group of guys that have done a very good job in the offseason. They believe that we have an opportunity to win at a high level, and now we just have to put in the work and get our jobs done." Illinois starts the season on the road February 13th. Their home opener is March 10th.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was a game worth a hug from his future coach. Jalen Coleman-Lands scored 17 points in a win Saturday night at Parkland college. He got a little taste of Champaign, playing in front of dozens of Illinois fans. Illinois head coach John Groce was there too for support. He hustled back from the team's loss at Minnesota to catch the second half. "It was jaw-dropping when I saw him," Coleman-Lands said. "When I glanced over during the game, I saw him smile back. And it's definitely a memory I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life."
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Tim Beckman thought he had his new co-defensive coordinator, but Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski announced Monday afternoon he is staying with the Tigers. Illinois reportedly offered Kuligowski the job of co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. He is one of the most well-respected defensive coaches in the country after spending more than a decade on the Missouri staff. Kuligowski released a statement Monday saying he considered the opportunity before ultimately deciding it was best to stay put. Illinois is still searching for a new defensive line coach and possible co-coordinator after firing Greg Colby earlier this month.
The Illinois men's tennis team beat #6 Baylor earlier this season.
The Illinois golf team is used to being the underdog, but this season they are ranked number one and have a big target on their back.
Illinois head coach John Groce isn't using injuries as an excuse for Illinois' loss at Minnesota.
Illinois basketball signee Jalen Coleman-Lands helped La Lumiere defeat St. Louis Christian 72-55 at Parkland College in Champaign Saturday night. Coleman-Lands scored 17 points. He also unofficially had four rebounds, five assists, and one steal.
The Illini men's basketball team fell at Minnesota 79-71 Saturday. Illinois is now 3-5 in the Big Ten. Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill each had 18 points, while Jaylon had career-highs with 11 points and 9 assists. Minnesota's Andre Hollins had a game-high 28 points.