The Illinois Fighting Illini will open up their 2013-14 season tonight at the State Farm Center against the Alabama State Hornets.
Alabama State is a member of the SWAC and finished sixth in the conference last year. Their overall record last season was 10-22.
ASU had some major players leave their team this past season and will be looking for new guys to step up and take their place. The team lost all three of their leading scorers as guard Joshua Freelove transferred to Buffalo, and forwards Phillip Crawford and Shawntez Patterson left due to graduation.
Freelove and Crawford were the only Hornet players to average over double-digits per game last season.
Sophomore point guard Jamel Waters is the highest returning points per game average from last season with 5.5 (there were six players above him in that stat).
When it comes to rebounding, ASU lost a lot there as well. Crawford led the team with 6.1 boards per night and Patterson was third on the team with 4.7 per night.
The player with the best rebounding average from last year’s squad that will be returning this season is junior forward Luther Page. Page averaged 4.3 rebounds per game last season.
This will be the first meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Hornets. It will also be Coach Groce’s first meeting with ASU as well.
Illinois will be opening it’s 109th season of men’s basketball tonight. The school is also 95-13 in season openers in their 108 previous seasons.
Even though Illinois have played two scrimmages this year, Illini Nation will get their first official look at their “new look” Illini tonight. The team welcomes five freshmen and four transfers to a group of five returning players.
Illinois might have lost their top scorers from last year’s squad in Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, but the team should be fine when it comes to scoring in 2013-14.
Freshman Jaylon Tate has shown this offseason that he might become a household name for Illini fans and will compliment the other addition of transfers Jon Ekey and Rayvonte Rice.
Probable Illini Starters:
- G – Jaylon Tate (Fr.)
- G – Kendrick Nunn (Fr.)
- G – Joseph Bertrand (r-Sr.)
- F – Jon Ekey (Gr.)
- F/C – Nnanna Egwu (Jr.)
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