“Frankly it ticked me off,” Groce said. “You can criticize me, but don’t touch my guys.”
With the loss, Illinois falls to 13-9 overall and drops to 2-7 in the Big Ten, while Iowa improves to 17-5 overall and continues to stay near the top of the conference standings at 6-3.
Iowa outrebounded the Illini by a 41-28 margin, including some key offensive boards in the final few minutes to seal its first win in Champaign since 1999.
When asked if this might open the door for some younger players to see more double digit minutes in the near future, Groce responded by saying “anytime you are struggling from a win-loss standpoint, the fingers begin to be pointed at the veterans. But, as I’ve said all along, players play players and we are constantly evaluating our team each and every day.”
The Illini will not have a lot of time to dwell on this current loss, as they are right back in action on Tuesday evening, when they welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to the State Farm Center. Wisconsin lost at home on Saturday to Ohio State 59-58, and come into the game with Illinois at 17-5 overall, but just 4-5 in the Big Ten.
The game on Tuesday night will be televised on the Big Ten Network, and can be heard on WDAN AM 1490 and WDNL 102.1 FM, as well as statewide on the Fighting Illini Sports Network.
Jim Cotter is a freelance writer for the Commercial-News, and can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org