Even with a 35-18 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Heart of Dallas Bowl Friday, third-year head coach Tim Beckman is staying positive about the future of his program.
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.
DALLAS -- Illinois senior quarterback Reilly O'Toole threw for 295 yards and one touchdown in his final collegiate game but it wasn't enough to hold off Louisiana Tech in a 35-18 loss to the Bulldogs in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl Friday afternoon.
CHAMPAIGN -- For those Illini fans that weren't able to make the trip to Dallas, they were definitely with them in spirit.
Illinois plays Louisiana Tech Friday at 12:00 in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. WCIA 3's Aaron Bennett has a final preview from Dallas.
WCIA 3 Sports presents a half hour special previewing the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl between Illinois and Louisiana Tech.
Houston Bates transferred from Illinois to Louisiana Tech before this season. He'll now play his final college game against the Illini in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Growing up, Marchie Murdock never had to wonder where his next meal would come from, but being raised in a suburb of Dallas the redshirt freshman wide receiver understood there were those in his community who weren't as fortunate.
Friday's Heart of Dallas Bowl will be the last football game in Reilly O'Toole's career. He's ready to try something else.
Illinois women's basketball defeated Murray State 64-44. Chatrice White recorded her fourth double double scoring 19 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Illinois improves to 9-3.
The Illini football team arrived in Dallas in style Monday. The team had an ugly sweater contest. WCIA 3's Aaron Bennett has more.
Illinois leaves Monday for Dallas. They play Louisiana Tech Friday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten caught up with Tim Beckman at the team's send off party Sunday night.
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman made a mid-season change to his practice philosophy and it ended up paying off for the Illini. During the bye week before the Minnesota game, Beckman decided to give his players two extra days off.
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.
Illinois plays Missouri Saturday at 1:00
Illini senior running back Donovonn Young is eager for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Houston native will have plenty of friends and family at the game.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It probably comes as no surprise to those who have watched the last couple Illinois football games, but Reilly O'Toole will start for Illinois in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said today O'Toole has earned that opportunity. Cubit added that Wes Lunt will have to be ready because there's a good chance he will play in the game. It is only fitting, though, that O'Toole gets this opportunity - given all that he has been through as a career backup - to start his final college game. "It'll just be another opportunity to showcase ourselves as a team," O'Toole said. "I'm just glad to have the opportunity to go out there and try to help the team as best as I can."
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. - Illinois announced Wednesday the addition of eight football players who will join the team next season. These eight will enroll early - in January - to get a jumpstart on their Illinois careers. Those players include six junior college transfers and two high school seniors - including Centennial's Jimmy Fitzgerald. The quarterback was a three-star recruit, who chose Illinois over schools like Harvard and Yale. Fitzgerald was the leader of the state-ranked Centennial Chargers before his senior season was cut short due to a torn ACL.
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."
For the first time in the Tim Beckman era, the Illinois football team was able to talk about a bowl game at their annual banquet Sunday afternoon. Senior quarterback Reilly O'Toole won the outstanding offensive player award.
Illinois freshman center Chatrice White has lived up to the hype of her McDonalds All-American accolade so far. The Nebraska native is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game so far this season.
Illinois basketball coach John Groce said the Illini have 'no excuses' after losing to Oregon Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago.
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman said he wants his team to have fun the next few weeks but he also expects the Illini to put in plenty of work preparing for the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Illinois got an all-star performance from Rayvonte Rice, who led all scorers with 29 points, but Oregon outscored the Illini 40-20 in the paint, and rallied for a 77-70 win Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago.
Florida def. Illinois 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-17, 16-14
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois freshman Mike Dudek earned a national honor Friday. The first year wide receiver was named a first team Freshman All-American by Scout.com. Dudek's 965 receiving yards were second most by any freshman nationally, and he was fourth among all freshmen with six touchdown catches. He put together the best freshman season ever by an Illinois wide receiver.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When Kevin Hambly took over the Illinois volleyball program six years ago the Illini had only been to the Wweet 16 nine times in program history. Expectations have certainly changed since then. "We had people wearing banners that said 'Sweet 16' on their heads, like little head pieces on," said head coach Kevin Hambly. "They were running around like it was their birthday. Now we're just shaking hands and moving on. It's that expectation that this is where we're supposed to be."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's basketball team is 7-2 heading into Saturday's showdown with Oregon. They don't have any "bad losses" yet, but they want to make sure they don't lose any more games before Big Ten play begins. That means these next four non-conference matchups become that much more important, starting Saturday against the Ducks. "I think it's gonna test us," said head coach John Groce. "We kinda do that when we put the schedule together. That teaches you that we've gotta come together, and you really gotta come together as a team, and you've got to connect those dots. We have not figured out how to connect some of those dots and stay connected. We're just not there yet."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini football team continued its bowl preparations Thursday, and that involved head coach Tim Beckman making a trip to Dallas in the morning. Representatives from Illinois and Louisiana Tech met for an introductory news conference at the Cotton Bowl stadium. Then Thursday afternoon they got back on the practice field. It was the first full-team practice in more than a week, and the seniors admit they were a little rusty. "Tired and not as mentally sharp as I was in the past few weeks," Donovonn Young said. "But it was fun to be back out here with my guys, getting ready for this bowl game."
NEW YORK - Illinois came to Madison Square Garden with high hopes of knocking off a top ten team on a national stage but the Illini left New York with a bitter taste in their mouth after a 14-point defeat at the hands of Villanova Tuesday night. Third year head coach John Groce said his team has a lot to figure out before Big Ten play starts at the end of the month; learning how to close games is at the top of his list. "We're not a team yet," Groce said after Tuesday night's 73-59 loss. "We've still got a long way to go to be connected and to find that balance of being aggressively patient. Find that balance of continuing to talk, have balance, have grit, ratchet your defense up. We're not at that point and that's what we've learned so far and that's what happens when you play against really good competition like we have and we've got more coming. It gives us a chance to learn more about ourselves but we've got to get that addressed pretty quickly. We've got to be better than what we were."
NEW YORK - John Groce said Villanova was smarter, more cohesive and tougher than his Illini in the final eight minutes of Tuesday's 73-59 loss. It's that toughness element that the third-year Illini coach wasn't happy about. Groce gave no excuses for not being tough enough, calling it "inexcusable." Tied at 50 with 8:29 to play, Illinois had a chance to turn the game around, but they couldn't get a stop defensively. The Wildcats scored on ten straight possessions, closing the game on a 23-9 run.
NEW YORK, NY -- A big night for the Illini Men's Basketball Team.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois volleyball team is getting set for its Sweet 16 matchup with Florida. The Illini are just two wins away from the final four, and they're coming off a weekend where they didn't lose a single set in their two opening round wins. This team is confident for good reason. They say their tough conference schedule prepared them for this moment. "We're able to look back and be like 'Hey we've been in this situation where it's 23-23, and we've won against a really, really good team - or we've gone to a top five team and beat them at their home,' said senior Liz McMahon. "That just kind of in the back of your mind gives you that confidence."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini football team had its back against the wall, needing two wins in the final two weeks to reach bowl eligibility. They got it done, sweated out the selection process, and are hoping to ride the momentum into Dallas for the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Louisiana Tech December 26. "I think any time you can go out and talk about building this thing as it happened for us, being able to talk about three out of the last five wins," said head coach Tim Beckman. "There's a buzz around, and this football team has definitely made the strides to get itself better."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's basketball team is barely hanging on to its top 25 ranking after splitting a pair of games last week. Illinois holds steady at No. 25 in the Coaches Poll. They fell out of the AP Poll, but received the second most votes of any team outside the rankings. Illinois will play No. 7 Villanova Tuesday night under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in New York City. "I think it's going to be pretty fun," Malcolm Hill said. "My dad was excited for me. He always like watching games at The Garden. A lot of great players have played there. I'm just going to treat it as another game because I don't want to let my emotions get the best of me or play too hard. I'm just going to treat it as another game."
The Illinois football team will play Louisiana Tech in the Zaxsby's Heart of Dallas Bowl December 26th at 12:00.
The Illinois volleyball team beat Iowa State 27-25, 25-18, 25-18 to advance to the sweet 16.
Illinois improved to 7-1 Saturday after beating American 70-55. Malcolm Hill had a team high 13 points. The Illini play Villanova in New York City Tuesday.
Illinois advances to Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament with a 25-20, 25-9, 25-17 victory over Murray St.
NATIONAL -- ESPN has noticed Illini Coach John Groce's swag.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It may not be a foregone conclusion that Illinois is guaranteed to be in a bowl game. There is a scenario out there in which the Big Ten could have too many bowl eligible teams - and not enough bowls for them all. Basically it all comes down to how many Big Ten teams are selected for the New Year's bowls. If three teams go, that would leave more Big Ten-affiliated bowls for Illinois. If only two conference teams are selected, that could leave one bowl-eligible Big Ten team in the cold.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois put five players in double figures led by Jacqui Grant's 16 points as the Fighting Illini rolled past Virginia 86-63 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at State Farm Center. Ivory Crawford and Kyley Simmons scored 15 points apiece. Taylor Tuck added 13 and Chatrice White chipped in 12 for Illinois (6-2).
Illinois shot just 33 percent from the field (22 percent from three point range) and lost at Miami 70-61. Rayvonte Rice had a team high 22 points. Malcolm Hill scored 13. This is the fewest points the Illini scored all season. Illinois drops to 6-1.
Illinois players pick up Big Ten honors.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois wide receiver Mike Dudek has been easily the team's most valuable offensive weapon this season, and Monday night the freshman was one of two Illinois players to earn all-conference recognition. Dudek was named second team all-conference. He was third best in the Big Ten in both touchdowns and receiving yards. He put together the best freshman season ever for an Illini wide receiver. His 69 receptions and 965 receiving yards put him among the top ten in school history in those categories. Punter Justin DuVernois was also named second team all-conference. He was second best in the league at nearly 45 yards per punt.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Monday is the anniversary of one of the biggest wins in Illinois basketball history. Ten years ago Illinois knocked off No. 1 Wake Forest 91-73 at Assembly Hall. The Illini became No. 1 themselves the next week, and they held on to that ranking all the way to the national championship game. Even a decade later it is a special memory for the guys who played in that game. "We knew if we just played defense - and with the crowd - that we would win," Dee Brown said earlier this year. "We didn't know we would win by that margin. Just the best basketball I ever played as far as moving the basketball. It was just a dream. When I just think about that it's just the brotherhood that we had. We all had one goal, and that was to win."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini basketball team is starting to get some national recognition for its undefeated start. Illinois cracked the top 25 on Monday for the first time this season. Illinois makes an appearance in both national polls. They're ranked 24th in the AP poll and 25th in the Coaches poll. Illinois' coming off a championship at the Las Vegas Invitational, where they rallied in the second half to knock off previously undefeated Baylor. "I think that we're really tough," said sophomore Malcolm Hill. "We play good basketball together. I think we can be really focused when we want to, since we didn't have a day prep against Baylor. We just had to go off what we'd seen from that last game. I think we did a pretty good job of that, especially going up against a zone like that that we'd never gone up before, and I think we take care of the ball really well." Next up Illinois faces No. 15 Miami Tuesday night (8:00 pm, ESPN2) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.