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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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. - 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. - 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."
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.
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. - 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."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Brittany Carter scored a team-high 15 points, but it wasn't enough as Northwestern edged Illinois 68-67 at State Farm Center.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was a night Leron Black won't forget anytime soon. The freshman enjoyed several 'firsts', none bigger than his first career double-double. The Memphis-native scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. In his first career start he played a career-high 32 minutes. Purdue head coach Matt Painter called Black the best player on the floor, adding "it wasn't even close." Illinois head coach John Groce said Black lived up to his nickname - Savage. "I'm thrilled for him," Groce said after Wednesday's 66-57 win over Purdue. "His effort, his motor, how much he cares about winning, how hard he competes, his approach to practice, and it's been great."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois needed somebody to step up big to neutralize the big men of Purdue Wednesday night at State Farm Center. Leron Black and Nnanna Egwu answered the call leading Illinois to a 66-57 win. Black picked up his first career double-double scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Egwu scored 11 points. He also added seven rebounds and five blocks. Those five blocks were enough for Egwu to break Deon Thomas' all-time career blocked shots record. Illinois improves to 13-7 overall, 3-4 in the Big Ten.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior shooting guard Aaron Cosby will miss the next 1-2 weeks due to a retinal tear in his left eye, according to the U of I. Cosby suffered the injury during Sunday's 80-74 loss to Indiana. He underwent a laser procedure on Monday and will be sidelined beginning with Wednesday's game vs. Purdue. Cosby, a transfer from Seton Hall, is averaging 7.8 ppg this season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois fans are counting down the weeks until Rayvonte Rice returns from his broken hand; and while John Groce won't publicly release a timeline for his recovery, he did say by all indications Rice is on schedule. Groce said Tuesday it helps that the fracture is on the outside of Rice's non-shooting hand, so that should help the recovery. Illinois is 2-2 in four games without Rice, and Groce is hoping the Champaign-native will be back sooner rather than later. "Ray will let us know when Ray is ready," Groce said. "Obviously with the doctors and [athletic trainer Paul Schmidt] and myself, we're not gonna let him do out there. He'd like to play the other day. But within reason, you know I think his body will be telling him and the doctors will be telling us whether or not they think it's, 'Hey he's good to go, or he can start to be cleared for some contact.' And we're just going to follow their lead."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Purdue visits State Farm Center to tangle with Illinois Wednesday night, and the Boilers are one of just four teams in the country with two players who stand 7-feet or taller. "They start a 7-footer, and then they come with a 7-footer off the bench," said Nnanna Egwu, Illinois' most established post defender. "It's just unique. It's one thing that makes their team good, so I think it's going be a team effort trying to contain those two big guys."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Kendrick Nunn was arguably the best player in the Big Ten over the last week. The sophomore put up back-to-back games of 25 points and 24 points, providing a much-needed scoring punch in the absence of Rayvonte Rice. Nunn is starting to hit his stride. He has made 17 of his last 26 shots, including 10 of his last 17 threes. John Groce admitted they are relying on Nunn a little more than usual with Rice out, but he says Nunn is capable of putting up those offensive numbers when when he is aggressive but doesn't force the issue. "Is he gonna score 25 a night every night? And if he doesn't, then [are] people gonna write like, 'What's wrong with Kendrick Nunn?,'" said Groce. "I mean I get kinda tired of that a little bit. Is he capable of doing what he's done the last two games? Sure. Absolutely. He's shown that, and I think he's in a real groove right now and hopefully he continues to play aggressive. That's the main thing."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Marcus LoVett is getting interest from several big-time schools like Kansas, Tennessee, DePaul and more. Illinois is right in the mix as well. John Groce and his staff are recruiting the four-star point guard hard. "Illinois is up there at the top [of my list]," LoVett said while attending Sunday's 80-74 loss to Indiana. "They have a good style of play that I like as well, so that has a lot to [do] with it. The fans, as I'm looking right now, it's real rowdy in here so I like that."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois lost a heartbreaker to Indiana Sunday at home, and it was Illinois' fourth loss in their first six Big Ten games. After the game John Groce said the defense - or lack thereof - is a big reason for their slow start in conference play. The Illini (12-7, 2-4) have allowed 70+ points in three of those losses, including a season-high 80 in Sunday's loss. In conference games alone, Illinois is allowing more than 67 points per game, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten. "I don't like our numbers in league play," Groce said after Sunday's 80-74 loss to Indiana. "I didn't like them coming into the game. I don't like them coming out of the game. In this league, as I've said numerous times, you have to defend, you have to rebound, you have to take care of the ball. You cannot just go and outscore people night in, night out."
E. LANSING, Mich. - Brittany Carter poured in 19 points, but it wasn't enough as Illinois fell to Michigan State 63-56 Thursday night in East Lansing, Mich. Illinois falls to 11-6 overall, 2-3 in the Big Ten.
EVANSTON, Ill. - All season long Illinois head coach John Groce has told Aaron Cosby to keep shooting. The junior is a proven scorer; he shot 40 percent in two seasons at Seton Hall, but he has struggled with the Illini. Coming into Wednesday's game at Northwestern Cosby had only made seven of his last 33 shots and was shooting just 26 percent from beyond the arc. But he got back on track in a 72-67 win over the Wildcats, scoring a season-high 19 points including four three-pointers. "My coaches and teammates know what I'm capable of, and I do too," Cosby said after the win. "I've stayed confident through it all, continued to work and tonight they fell."
EVANSTON, Ill. - Coming off their worst offensive performance of the season, Illinois needed a spark in Evanston - and they got it. Sophomore Kendrick Nunn poured in a career-high 25 points and junior Aaron Cosby added a season-best 19 points to lead Illinois to a 72-67 win over Northwestern Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Nunn's most valuable points came during the game's final seconds, sinking four consecutive free throws to clinch the victory. Cosby, who had only make seven field goals in his last four games, went 7-for-15 against the Wildcats including 4-8 from 3-point range. Illinois (12-6, 2-3) is back in action Sunday at home against Indiana.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois basketball team is facing an incredibly quick turnaround between conference road games this week. The Illini didn't return home from Sunday's game at Nebraska until Monday afternoon. Then they left for Northwestern Tuesday afternoon. The team was only in Champaign for 24 hours between games. "It's pretty quick, especially considering we got back just yesterday," said sophomore Malcolm Hill. "It's all part of the process. We'll see how tough we are. We aren't used to doing stuff like this, but it shouldn't be a distraction for us at all in my mind."
LINCOLN, Neb. - Illinois put together its worst shooting performance of the season in Sunday night's loss at Nebraska. The Illini scored a season-low 43 points on just 27% shooting. It was a major letdown coming off that upset win over Maryland last Wednesday. Head coach John Groce said the effort was there; they just didn't make enough shots. "Our four shot-makers went 12-for-43," Groce said referring to Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn, Aaron Cosby and Ahmad Starks. "When that happens, and you shoot 27 percent, you're not gonna have a chance to win in this league on the road. But I certainly did not think it was because of our effort."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Chatrice White was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday for the third time this year. Against a pair of Top 20 teams last week, White averaged 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals per game. She scored a team-high 22 points in a win over No. 17 Iowa.
Illinois women's basketball coach Matt Bollant has turned the program around. In his third season, the Illini are out to their best start in seven years with wins over two nationally ranked teams.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois trailed by five at halftime, but they used a strong second half performance to race past No. 17 Iowa 73-61 Thursday night at State Farm Center. Freshman Chatrice White led the way for Illinois with 22 points. Brittany Carter added 19, and Iowa-native Kyley Simmons chipped in 16. Illinois (11-4, 2-1) hosts No. 18 Nebraska Sunday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was a game most people didn't give Illinois much of a chance to win; but even without their leading scorer Rayvonte Rice, Illinois found a way to knock off No. 11 Maryland Wednesday night. It was the end of a two-day roller coaster ride for head coach John Groce, who had to scramble to put together a new game play after Rice broke his hand in practice Monday. Illinois found a way to battle through the adversity and knock off a Top 15 team for the fourth time in Groce's tenure in Champaign. "I think sometimes when something happens, like it did to Ray, it puts it into perspective for those guys," Groce said. "I thought they really rallied around that and rallied around Ray and they were really ready to play."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Without Rayvonte Rice Illinois needed someone to step up, and Wednesday night that man was Malcolm Hill. The sophomore poured in a game-high 28 points to lead Illinois to a 64-57 win over No. 11 Maryland at State Farm Center. Hill provided the scoring punch, sinking nearly every important basket down the stretch. He shot 9-18 FG and 4-7 from 3-PT range. Nnanna Egwu added 11 points and nine rebounds for Illinois (11-5, 1-2).
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women will carry some momentum into their game against 17th-ranked Iowa Thursday night. Matt Bollant's team has won three out of four, including a road win at Penn State over the weekend. It has been an up-and-down season for Illinois (10-4, 1-1). They scored a season-high 91 points against the Nittany Lions, and they hope to build on that performance when the Hawkeyes comes to town. "Hopefully it gives us a confidence builder and just belief that we can do it; believe that we belong," said head coach Matt Bollant. "I'm not sure that we started the Purdue game feeling that. Now certainly the way we played in the second half should have given us a boost but we need to believe that we can beat Iowa, that we can be different and we can be better."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois hopes to snap its two-game losing streak Wednesday night when Maryland (14-1, 2-0) visits State Farm Center. A loss would send Illinois to an 0-3 Big Ten start for the first time since 2008. The good new is this game comes at home after their first two conference losses were on the road; but this one won't be easy. Maryland is ranked No. 9 in the Coaches Poll and No. 11 in the AP Poll. Head coach John Groce is hoping his team can take a page out of Maryland's book when it comes to finding a way to win when you're not playing your best. "The thing that's been the most impressive about them that I certainly appreciate, especially with what we've been going through with our team, is if you look at their offensive statistics in their two league wins they're not eye-shattering," Groce said. "They certainly can shoot the ball if you look at as a whole their entire season. They're certainly capable of doing that. They just happened not to do it their first two league games, but they found a way to win anyway."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - If the Illinois basketball team wants to get back on track Wednesday night against Maryland, they will have to do it without leading scorer Rayvonte Rice. The Centennial grad suffered a fractured non-shooting hand in practice, and head coach John Groce says Rice will be out indefinitely. Rice will have surgery on Wednesday. Groce said he will have a better idea on Rice's timeline for recovery after surgery, but he is expected to miss at least a month. Rice has been Illinois' most valuable player so far this season. He's averaging 17.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's basketball team has lost its first two Big Ten games of the season thanks to second-half meltdowns in both games; and it has caused some fans to wonder if they're missing Tracy Abrams a little more than some people thought they might. Illinois was out-toughed down the stretch both at Michigan and at Ohio State. Abrams was expected to bring that toughness as one of the team's key senior leaders before he went down to a season-ending ACL injury. With Abrams out, somebody else has to step up and bring that toughness; so far they're not doing enough. "He's a bulldog guy. He's a guy that when adversity hits, he's gonna fight you," Groce said of Abrams. "We need some more of that from our team. I did not like our response to adversity there in the early stages of that 15-0 run [at Ohio State]. I do think our guys are trying, but as I tell them in the movie Christmas Vacation, so do washing machines. They work hard. We've gotta be better. We've gotta respond to that better than what we are right now."
ANN ARBOR, MI. -- It was a perfect opportunity for Illinois to pick up one of those rare Big Ten road wins. And up 13 at Michigan, with just 11 minutes left to play, it looked like the Illini would do just that on Tuesday. But for the third time this season, Illinois let another game get away late.
ANN ARBOR, MI -- Illinois blew a 13-point second half lead and was outscored 14-6 in overtime in a 73-65 loss at Michigan Tuesday afternoon. Malcolm Hill was the only Illini who scored in double figures, the sophomore had 19 points, 15 in the second half.
The Illinois men's basketball team tips off Big Ten Conference play Tuesday afternoon at Michigan. When asked about the optimism surrounding his team, Illini head coach John Groce said, "Talk is cheap; you've got to make it happen. No one gives you anything in this league."
ESPNCU host Jeremy Werner talks Illinois basketball and what's ahead for the Illini as they start Big Ten Conference play this week.
Ivory Crawford scored 12 of her team high 16 points in the second half but Illinois' comeback fell short to Purdue Sunday afternoon in a 62-55 loss at State Farm Center.
Illinois used a 30-3 run to close the first half en route to a 93-45 blowout victory over Kennesaw State Saturday night at State Farm Center. Rayvonte Rice led all scorers with 21 points, he was perfect from the field converting on all seven field goals he attempted.
Illinois senior Rayvonte Rice hit a step back 3 as time expired to give the Illini a 62-59 win over Missouri in the 34th annual Braggin' Rights game at Scottrade Center in St. Louis Saturday afternoon.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In just his second game this season in the starting lineup, sophomore Kendrick Nunn provided the spark Illinois needed in a 73-55 win over Hampton Wednesday night at State Farm Center. Nunn scored a season-high 16 points on 6-9 from the field and 4-6 from three-point range. Rayvonte Rice scored 12 points, and Nnanna Egwu added ten. As has been the case for most of the season Egwu's presence was felt mostly on the defensive end, where the senior tied a career-high with five blocked shots. Illinois (8-3) will be back in action Saturday against Missouri in the annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - You can bet it has been a long couple days for the Illinois men's basketball team - waiting for their chance to get back on the court after suffering their most disappointing loss so far this season. "We just watched the film," said senior Rayvonte Rice. "[We] saw the errors we need to get better at, and we're just going to go out there and play angry and try to get the win."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For most of Saturday's game the Illinois offense looked a lot like last year's offense. Rayvonte Rice carried the load, while most everyone else struggled to get anything going. Rice scored a game-high 29 points in Saturday's 77-70 loss to Oregon. He was the only Illinois player to score more than ten points. Head coach John Groce wants more balance, but he also wants Rice to continue to be aggressive like he was against the Ducks Saturday night. "He was dynamic - I mean he was terrific," Groce said of Rice's performance at the United Center. "I didn't think he settled [for bad shots]. I thought obviously he made a couple deep ones there when he was in a groove. He got off to a good start, but I thought he was really aggressive. Obviously we need more balance with our scoring."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's basketball team has fallen completely out of both Top 25 polls after losing three of it's last four games. The latest was the most concerning yet - a 77-70 loss to Oregon at the United Center Saturday night. Head coach John Groce says he was most concerned by what he saw on the defensive end. Oregon shot 46% from the field and 41% from three-point range. They have a couple more days to get things corrected before Hampton comes to State Farm Center Wednesday. "We get on the court. We practice. Do what we gotta do to get better and get prepared for our game on Wednesday," senior Nnanna Egwu said of the team's preparation for their next game. "That's really all we can do. We understand it's a long season, but we're gonna find ways to correct ourselves and get prepared for next game."