The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

January 26, 2014

Illini, Hoosiers looking to improve

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Illinois opened the Big Ten season with a hard-fought 83-80 overtime victory against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Since then, the Fighting Illini won their next game over Penn State but have lost five straight heading into today’s rematch with the Hoosiers, this time at the Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind.

“It’s a month later and a lot has happened since we’ve played them,’’ said Groce, whose Illinois squad is 13-7 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten. “But a lot of things are still the same. (Yogi) Ferrell’s impact on their team. How good they are in transition and how great they are on the glass. They are second in our league and top 10 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.’’

But as Groce as pointed out, “they were able to get 23 points in transition. They got 42 percent of the offensive rebounds. We didn’t slow them down in either area.’’

So, how did the Illini pull out the victory over the Hoosiers.

Illinois had three players score in double figures as junior Rayvonte Rice, who was scoreless on Thursday against Ohio State, had a career-high 29 points, including two free throws in the final seconds.

“We were able to win the possession battle, because we took care of the ball — we made some plays,’’ said Groce, whose team committed just 10 turnovers to 23 for Indiana. “I thought we were really good on offense. I think it was one of our better offensive performances of the year.’’

On the Indiana side of things, the Hoosiers have been on a roller coaster ride in the Big Ten. After opening with two losses to Illinois and Michigan State, Indiana had back-to-back wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, but the Hoosiers come into today’s game with a two-game losing streak after suffering a 71-66 loss at Michigan State on Tuesday.

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