Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Auburn Tigers Game Preview and Live Thread

Dec 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach John Grose reacts from the sidelines in the first half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Hank McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball team returns to Atlanta for the second time this week looking to rebound from a total collapse down the stretch in their past game against Georgia Tech which led to John Groce’s complete frustration and the Illini’s first loss of the season.

Their opponent today will be SEC member Auburn, who’s fans may be looking to rebound from some major celebration after last night’s SEC Football Championship Game victory over Missouri which also took place in Atlanta.

Rayvonte Rice is coming off a monster game (24 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 3 assists, 3 rebounds) that earned him B1G player of the Week honors. It was his 3rd consecutive solid performance. He has led the Illini in scoring the past three games, and will be the main focus for the Tigers defense coming in to today’s matchup.

In that vein, the Illini bench needs to get things going to help provide support for the starters. In the past three games, the Illini bench has scored 9, 3, and 10 points respectively. They need to find more production than that so that the starters aren’t taxed into logging too many minutes.

Meanwhile, Auburn comes in to this game with a 4-2 overall record. They have scored at least 70 points in all 6 of their games this season, while shooting 44% from the floor as a team. They are an abysmal 3 point shooting team, however, so look for Illinois to play some of the 2-3 zone they have used from time to time this season to try and force long jumpers from the Tigers. Auburn’s highest 3 point percentage in any game this season was 30% against Jacksonville State, and in the other 5 contests they went for 27, 28, 22, 15, and 26 percent respectively.

Sr. Guard Chris Denson is their Rayvonte Rice so far this season. He leads the Tigers, and the SEC, in scoring at 21.8 ppg. So, shutting him down today will be key for the Illini. If they can achieve that, Denson’s back court mate, KT Harrell, will also have to be kept in check as he averages 17.7 ppg. Together, Denson and Harrell combine to average 39.5 ppg which leads the SEC for a pair of teammates.

The Illinois defense has been stifling this season, holding their opponents to 57 ppg which ties them for the 5th best Scoring Defense in the nation with San Diego State according to ncaa.com. For Illinois to come away with a victory today they will need to bring the full force of their defense with them to Atlanta.

The Skinny

When: Sunday, December 8th, 2pm CST

Where: Philips Arena (Atlanta, Ga.)

Television: Fox Sports Midwest (Directv 671 / DISH 418) / Fox Sports South (Directv 646 / DISH 420)

Watch Online: Espn3.com

Feel free to come back and join in the conversation in the comments section below once the game begins.

 

Topics: Illinois Fighting Illini, Rayvonte Rice

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  • @RPKraemer

    Ekey with 5 quick points. Rice and Abrams flashing some nice passes for assists. When guards distribute the ball for easy shots Illinois looks great.

  • @RPKraemer

    Ekey and Tate hit back to back 3′s and the Illini are cooking early! 3-5 from 3 early on.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois shooting 60% right now. With their defensive presence, if they shoot this way they are virtually unbeatable. Bertrand with a beautiful feed as Morgan rolls to the basket on a wide open cut.

  • @RPKraemer

    That’s a first. I’ve never seen an official break his whistle.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois leads 17-9 with 11:25 to play in the first.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois needs to keep attacking, and distributing the ball like they have thus far. When they don’t settle for long 3s they are so much more effective.

  • @RPKraemer

    Ekey with the rejection!

  • @RPKraemer

    Abrams with an NBA range 3. 20-11 Illini 9:53 to go

  • @RPKraemer

    Abrams with another NBA range 3. He is locked in. 23-13 Illinois 7:55 left in the first half.

  • @RPKraemer

    Something I am looking for the rest of the way – Keep attacking. Don’t slow down like they did at Georgia Tech. It cost them there, so hopefully they learned their lesson and keep pushing for good shots.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois is currently 5-10 from 3. Much better than their 31% avg for the season.

  • @RPKraemer

    Bertrand with a 3. Illinois is now 6-12 from 3. Auburn has to be feeling like Missouri’s defense from last night, just getting flat blitzkrieg’d by Illinois’ hot shooting.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois leads 26-13 4:43 to go. KT Harrell heading to the line following an overly aggressive play by Bertrand.

  • @RPKraemer

    EGWU with a great defensive play. What a block!

  • @RPKraemer

    28-15 with 3:30 to go in the half. Illinois stifling Auburn’s leading scorers so far. Auburn with a turnover.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rayvonte Rice with a pair of free throws and Illinois has doubled up the Tigers, 30-15.

  • @RPKraemer

    Kendrick Nunn with a nice little pull up jumper in rhythm, then a steal and layin. 34-17 Illini with 1:40 left in the half.

  • @RPKraemer

    Ray Rice with a very pretty reverse layup. GIF Worthy.

  • @RPKraemer

    38-17. Illinois should get the final possession here after Abrams swoops in for a solid rebound. 24.7 seconds left to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    This half has been ALL Illinois. They need to punctuate it here and finish the half with a quality possession.

  • @RPKraemer

    Abrams rattles home Illinois’ 7th 3 pointer in 13 attempts. 41-17 Illinois at the half.

  • @RPKraemer

    Auburn looks completely mismatched in this one. Illinois is doing whatever they want. Rice taking it to the rack with authority and Ekey draining threes.

  • @RPKraemer

    52-22 with 16:08 left to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Ekey is 4-6 from 3. He’s having one of those hot streak games that he’s been known for over his collegiate career.

  • @RPKraemer

    Four freshman and Bertrand are on the court right now for Illinois. Colbert with a beautiful feed to Morgan, who makes the layup and calmly sinks the free throw to complete the 3 point play. 55-25 Illinois.

  • @RPKraemer

    Now it’s four freshman and Rice, but either way, this is a great chance to get these freshman some game experience.

  • @RPKraemer

    Excellent alley-oop from Abrams.

  • @RPKraemer

    Charles Barkley is dropping a ton of knowledge on kids who leave school early and just aren’t ready for the NBA level. I hope more of them are listening, and truly understand what he is saying.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois leads 59-34 with 12:18 left to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Ekey with yet another 3. 64-37 Illini.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rice drained another 3. 67-39 with 9:03 to go.

  • @RPKraemer

    By the way – the crowd at this game is atrocious. I guess it’s cool for the kids to play on an NBA court, but the crowd is simply ridiculous.

  • @RPKraemer

    11-18 from 3 for Illinois as Rice drains another off a nice feed from Abrams.

  • @RPKraemer

    73-44 with 6:38 to play. Illinois is going to win this one and it appears they are also going to hold Auburn to their lowest point total of the season.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois has 17 assists and are 12-21 from 3 up to this point in the game. Overall, they have shot 64% from the floor. Just an outstanding offensive performance.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois has four freshman and Bertrand on the floor.

  • @RPKraemer

    Tate to Colbert on an insane Alley-oop. Colbert threw it down with a one handed stuff with authority.

  • @RPKraemer

    75-53 Illinois with 4:15 to go. Auburn just hit a 3, but this is all might be too little too late for the Tigers.

  • @RPKraemer

    77-55 with 3:30 to go. Rice is such a good finisher near the rim. It’s going to be nice to have him for a late game shot later this season.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rice leaves today’s game with 22 points. It’s another stellar performance for the reigning B1G Player of the Week.

  • @RPKraemer

    79-59 Illinois with 1:28 to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Colbert just beats the shot clock. Great awareness to understand how much time was left.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois wins 81-62. It’s Auburn’s lowest output of the season. Illinois is now 8-1 on the year.

  • @RPKraemer

    12-23 from 3 with 19 assists for Illinois today. They shot 62% from the floor. Just a great offensive performance for the young Illini.