“Illinois did a good job of getting themselves back in the game, and some things that we were doing well early in the game wasn’t working for the remainder of the half.”
Roy Devyn Marble, the Hawkeyes’ talented forward, was held scoreless in the first half, but exploded for 17 points in the second half — essentially carrying his team on his shoulders.
Gabriel Olaseni notched a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, both career highs for the junior.
Joseph Bertrand led the Illini with 20 points, while Rayvonte Rice added 13. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough to get the Illini over the hill and end their losing streak.
“We had a few practices the past week with the intensity of tonight’s game,” Bertrand said.
“We let them have a couple of and ones down the stretch, and even though the game didn’t go our way in the end, I’m extremely proud of the guys and their effort tonight,” Groce said.
The Illini took a 66-61 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, but couldn’t ride the wave of momentum to the victory.
“I think they got us in transition late,” Groce said.
Tracy Abrams, bothered by a back issue during the Indiana game last Sunday, returned to form, scoring 11 points, and thought his team’s performance was admirable, even though they didn’t come out on top.
“I was really pleased with the effort tonight, and during this losing streak, the team is coming together and getting closer”, Abrams said after the game. “We need to find a way to come together and make everything click, and regain some of this success that we had earlier in the season”, Abrams continued.
Groce was a little critical of the fans tonight, especially early in the game when the Illini fell behind by double figures.