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."
MEN'S BASKETBALL Kennedy King 63 Parkland 64 (F/OT)
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.
BOYS BASKETBALL Unity 74 Argenta-Oreana 62 Meridian 79 CGB 64 St. Teresa 43 ALAH 33 Sullivan 53 Arcola 48 VGH 78 Tuscola 68 Mahomet-Seymour 63 Kankakee 53 Tri-County 52 Arthur Christian 49 Oakwood 50 Westville 44 (F/2OT) A-P 68 Schlarman 53 Milford 58 Hoopeston Area 30 Iroquois West 63 Donovan 34 Watseka 43 Beecher 56 Central A&M 84 Edinburg 72 Mattoon 67 Shelbyville 55 Charleston 54 Cumberland 43 Riverton 67 Sangamon Valley 42 Cowden-Herrick 52 Beecher City 42 St. Anthony 44 Newton 26 Casey-Westfield 64 Neoga 48 PORTA 56 Illini Central 35 Williamsville 60 Mt. Pulaski 42 GIRLS BASKETBALL Central A&M 75 CGB 31 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL Parkland 85 John A. Logan 57 WRESTLING Mahomet-Seymour 58 LeRoy 13 Mahomet-Seymour 48 Clinton 30 Clinton 58 LeRoy 24 OAP 71 Charleston 3 OAP 51 Rantoul 24
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."
SULLIVAN, Ill. - Brittin Boyer's basketball memories go way back. "My earliest memory is probably pee wee basketball," she said. "I would play against all the boys, and I have videos and stuff. I would try to whoop them - I'm not going to lie." Boyer has never backed down from a challenge. That's part of the reason why she's bound for Eastern Illinois next season. She has always dreamed of playing D-I basketball and couldn't think of a better school.
Sullivan girls stay undefeated with 66-43 win at Centennial
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. - Tim Finke is no longer the family's best kept basketball secret. The 6 foot-5 inch Centennial freshman has already found himself in the starting line-up. Friday night he played all 32 minutes, scored 20 points and grabbing ten rebounds. It was one of his best games so far. "You just have to go after every game and play your hardest and give it everything you have and play like it's your last," Finke said. "I just go with that mentality every single game and do my best and hope for the best.
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.
The Parkland men's and women's basketball teams both won Saturday while the St. Thomas More girl's basketball team beat Peoria Christian.
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.
Manual 72 Central 67 Peoria H.S. 66 Centennial 61 Richwoods 52 Urbana 39 Normal West 55 Danville 46 (F/2OT) Mahomet-Seymour 70 U-High 62 Teutopolis 57 SJO 41 Arcola 39 Unity 42 Chrisman 48 Oakwood 47 Tuscola 50 Uni-High 29 Warrensburg-Latham 64 Meridian 55 St. Teresa 62 Argenta-Oreana 44 Southeast 53 Eisenhower 49 MacArthur 69 Springfield 53 Stew-Stras 32 Shelbyville 48 Tri-County 65 Okaw Valley 62 (F/OT) Sullivan 50 Neoga 34 La Salette 74 Hutsonville-Palestine 49
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.
Centennial girls beat Central 70-48
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."
Highlights from Central/Urbana, Centennial/MacArthur and Oakwood/STM
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.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - St. Thomas More's Tori McCoy said Tuesday she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she has received after finding out Monday she had torn her ACL and will miss the rest of the season. McCoy is one of the top players in the country on one of the state's best teams, so it is easy to imagine the void the rest of her teammates will have to fill. Besides her 21 points per game, she also provided plenty of leadership. McCoy says he will do whatever she can to help her team achieve their goals.
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."
GIRLS BASKETBALL Rantoul 32 St. Thomas More 73 (F) Bristow, Wallen: 14 pts each
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."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The area's best players - and one of the best in the country- will not play another basketball game the rest of this season. St. Thomas More star Tori McCoy will miss the rest of the year after tearing her ACL. McCoy suffered the injury on Saturday. The junior was averaging more than 20 points per game at the time of her injury. It is a big blow to the Sabers, who are the defending state champions and the unanimous No. 1 ranked team in Class 2A. McCoy is a five-star recruit, who is ranked among the top players in the country in the 2016 class.
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.
BOYS BASKETBALL Centennial 72 Manual 54 Central 52 Normal West 49 (2 OT) Urbana 60 Notre Dame 73 Danville 54 Normal Community 67 Bismarck-Henning 54 Monticello 76 Chrisman 43 Unity 44 El Paso-Gridley 54 Fisher 34 Flanagan-Cornell 55 GCMS 39
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.
WRESTLING Central 34 SJO 33
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Not a day goes by that Sergio McClain doesn't think about his dad. And those memories are rekindled every time the former Illini standout walks into Combes Gym. They only spent one year together at Central, but in that time Wayne left his mark on the program. Now Sergio is trying to do the same. "He's with me day-to-day, and it's a lot on a man's shoulders to try and be successful this year," McClain said. "I'm not worried about it though because I've been successful all my life."
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).
CHARLESTON, Ill. – LeTrell Viser drained a 3-pointer during a key 14-2 second half run as Eastern Illinois rallied for a 61-54 win over Ball State on Wednesday night in Lantz Arena. EIU improved to 3-5 on the season winning its second straight. It was the first win over Ball State since January 18, 1966. Ball State fell to 2-3 on the season. EIU returns to action next Tuesday with a game at UC Davis, a 9 pm Central start.
DANVILLE, Ill. - It's long been said winning breeds confidence. And for Schlarman freshman Arieal Scott -- it's true. Scott and her freshmen teammates hadn't lost a game since fifth grade before falling to St. Thomas More last week. "I was very disappointed but my teammates picked me up and everything was good," said Scott.
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.
Watseka Senior Taylor Bauer is the WCIA 3 volleyball player of the year. The Parkland commit guided the Warriors to a 3rd place finish at state. It's the best finish in school history.
Illinois players pick up Big Ten honors.
GIRLS BASKETBALL Iroquois West 72 Centennial 52