The Fighting Illini’s propensity to play with fire finally burned them tonight as Georgia Tech charged back from a 60-48 deficit to defeat Illinois 67-64 at the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA. This was Illinois’ first loss of the season. They are now 7-1, and this was their first loss in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge in the past 5 years.
Illinois wasted an explosive performance by Rayvonte Rice who led all scorers with 24 points. He added 2 steals, 2 blocks, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. Clearly, Rice came to play tonight in Atlanta.
Unfortunately for Illinois, so did a pair of Yellow Jackets.
Robert Carter, Jr finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds, and Marcus Georges-Hunt finished with 20 points. The two combined to shoot 13-23 from the field, and both hit big shots down the stretch to will the Ramblin’ Wreck back into this game and ultimately to victory.
Georgia Tech finished the game on a 19-4 run over the final 9:14 as John Groce tried everything he could to stop the bleeding, but in the end he was stuck staring off into the distance trying to come to grips with what had just taken place. Groce was visibly angered by the lack of execution on the offensive end down the stretch and it’s probably safe to say he will address what took place immediately.
That said, it’s time to head back to the drawing board and start a new winning streak this Sunday.
Illinois returns to action in Atlanta on December 8th at 2 pm CST when they take on Auburn at Philips Arena in a neutral floor contest.