Mar 4, 2014; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach John Groce at the post game press conference after being defeated by Michigan Wolverines 84-53 at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball: Illinois vs. #24 Iowa Preview and Live Thread


Following the Illinois Fighting Illini’s home finale, an 84-53 blowout loss at the hands of the Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverines, John Groce was left to answer exactly what went wrong. Instead of talking about what the Illini did wrong, Groce instead chose to speak about how well the Wolverines shot the ball. He did, however, get one good jab in so that his team wasn’t completely absolved from their performance.

“When you get an outcome like today, a good team like ours has to play really poor and a really good to great team like them has to play great, and that’s what happened today,” Groce said. “They played terrific … give them credit.”

So, he felt as though the Illini played really poor in their last outing, and they will be looking to do anything but in tonight’s regular season finale against the #24 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Despite winning 20 games already this season, the Hawkeyes come in to this game reeling having lost 4 of their last 5 games. Those losses, however, have had nothing to do with the play of Roy Devyn Marble. The 6’6″ Senior Guard has been on fire in the past five games while posting 20 points or higher in each contest (21, 24, 20, 21, 24). In the first meeting between these two teams, Marble hung 17 points on the Illini defense in an 81-74 victory. Undoubtedly, he will be the Illini’s primary defensive focus.

While Marble’s 17 points led the way for the Hawkeyes in the last meeting, it was 6’10″ backup center Gabriel Olaseni who made his impression felt the most. Olaseni played his finest game of the season that day, finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 26 minutes of action.  I bring this up now for only one reason. While Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White should be the primary focus of the Illinois defense, the lower end defensive match-ups are just as important, and the Fighting Illini defense needs to be prepared to lock down every Hawkeye that takes the court tonight.

Three Things I’d like to see tonight:

1. Win the rebounding battle - In the first match-up Iowa won the rebounding battle 41-28. The Hawkeyes are the 6th best rebounding team in the nation (41.2 rpg), but that doesn’t mean they have to own the glass. In 3 of the 4 recent Hawkeye losses, they have also lost the rebounding battle. So, let’s see the Illini clean the glass and let the chips fall where they may.

2. Continue Recent Road Success - The Illini have won their last 2 Big Ten road games, including a win over then #18 Michigan State. Why not make it 3 in a row on the road and put another road win over a top 25 team on the Illini resume?

3. Share the ball - The Illini registered 7 assists in their last outing. That’s simply not good enough. Share the ball, Illini. It makes everyone look better.

The Skinny

When: Saturday, March 8, 2014, 7:30 PM CST

Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena – Iowa City, IA

TV: BTN (Directv 610 / DISH Network 439)

Announcers: Josh Lewin (Play by Play) and Jim Jackson (Analyst)

Feel free to drop back in during the game and chat with other Illini fans in the comments section below with any observations you may have!

I-L-L!

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Illinois Fighting Illini John Groce

  • @RPKraemer

    29 minutes to tip off. Who does everyone have tonight? Vegas Consensus is Iowa by 11.5. Do you think Illinois covers?

  • @RPKraemer

    Indiana and Michigan are having a slugfest in Ann Arbor. Somehow indiana tied it with less than 2 minutes to play, but Robinson hit a 3 (shocker) and Michigan leads by 3 with 1:03 left.

  • @RPKraemer

    Michigan survives the late Indiana charge, and the double digit lead for the Hoosiers.

  • @RPKraemer

    Groce just touched on the Hawkeyes rebounding ability in the pregame interview.

  • @RPKraemer

    Jeremy Werner ‏@WernerESPNCU 2m
    With Michigan topping Indiana, #illini would be BTT 9 seed if Minnesota beats PSU. If ILL wins and PSU wins, ILL is 7 seed and plays PSU.

  • @RPKraemer

    Jeremy Werner ‏@WernerESPNCU 2m
    If #illini lose and PSU wins, ILL is 11 seed and plays OSU or NEB.

  • @RPKraemer

    We’re about 3 minutes away from tip off. Predictions, anyone?

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois wins the tip and we are underway.

  • @RPKraemer

    Egwu with a complete “want to” play, snagging the offensive board and getting the lefty put back.

  • @RPKraemer

    Wow! Illinois with a great start tonight! 7-0 with Egwu going to the line to try and finish the 3 point play, which he does. 8-0 2 minutes in to the game.

  • @RPKraemer

    Egwu with 7 points early on. Could be a career night scoring for him if he keeps this up.

  • @RPKraemer

    Splash! Abrams drills the 3 and it’s 13-4 Illinois with 15:20 to play in the half. Wait, Morgan drains a baseline jumper 15-4 15 to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    20-6 Illinois after Ekey drills the 3.

  • @RPKraemer

    Egwu just picked up his second foul. with just under 13 to play in the first half.

  • @RPKraemer

    The Illini lead is down to 5 with 10 to play in the half. Morgan gets hammered but they call the tie up instead.

  • @RPKraemer

    Make that 2 as White drains the 3. 12-0 run for Iowa.

  • @RPKraemer

    21-19 Illinois just under 8 to play in the first half. Nunn with a stupid turnover at the mid court line and we are at the under 8 timeout.

  • @RPKraemer

    23-21 Iowa, and Illinois takes a timeout. Goodness gracious how the mighty have fallen so quickly.

  • @RPKraemer

    Woodbury clears out Morgan with his shoulder (no call) and then buries the runner.

  • @RPKraemer

    Woodbury has gotten loose and Iowa now leads by 5 with 3:07 to go in the half. Woodbury has 7 points. Marble has 5 and White has 7, but once again it’s a peripheral guy doing damage.

  • @RPKraemer

    34-29 at the half in favor of Iowa. That’s got to be semi-crushing considering how hot Illinois was to start.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois leads the rebounding battle at the half 18-15. They trail the turnover battle 8-4. Illinois has 7 assists already, matching their entire output from the Michigan game.

  • @RPKraemer

    Nunn with a solid take. 45-41 Iowa with 14:50 to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rice with a man move over Oglesby and converts the 3 point play. 45-44.

  • @RPKraemer

    Shot clock violation for the Illini. They trail 52-48 at the under 12 timeout.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rice with the open floor jam. 54-53 Iowa with 10:02 left to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Bertrand! Big time!

  • @RPKraemer

    55-54 Illinois after the Bertrand make. 8 minutes to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Big time block by Egwu on the last Iowa possession. He should be a DPOY candidate. Probably won’t happen, but it’s clear the effect he has on the game when he is on the floor.

  • @RPKraemer

    57-54 Illinois with 6:50 to play and the Illini have the ball.

  • @RPKraemer

    Egwu hits a very tough turnaround. 59-54 Illinois with 6:20 to go.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rice misses a streaking Abrams off the steal, but Illinois opts to hold now. 59-56 as Rice jacks an NBA range 3 and clanks it. 4:35 to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Tie game. Gesell drills the 3. 4:17 to go and it’s a brand new ballgame.

  • @RPKraemer

    59-59 3:55 to play. Illinois ball when we return to action.

  • @RPKraemer

    Illinois is still winning the rebounding battle. (32-24 now)

  • @RPKraemer

    3K3Y!!!! Big time!

  • @RPKraemer

    63-59 Illinois with 1:34 to play. Egwu is whistled for a moving screen. Ouch. Need stops now, and Egwu is playing with 4 fouls now.

  • @RPKraemer

    1:16 left and Iowa is forced to call a timeout as Illinois’ defense is hounding the Hawkeyes relentlessly.

  • @RPKraemer

    63-61 after a Marble made basket on a strong take towards the foul-saddled Egwu. 1:08 left to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Both Illinois and Iowa have 2 timeouts left.

  • @RPKraemer

    My oh my. Illinois burns their second timeout and now they have none left. 58.7 to go and Illinois has the 2 point lead and the ball.

  • @RPKraemer

    Rice throws it away in the back court. Olaseni gets the tip in. Illinois is going to hold for the last shot.

  • @RPKraemer

    Gesell gets handsy with Abrams and commits the foul with 13.8 to play.

  • @RPKraemer

    Iowa is not in the penalty yet. Illinois can take it all the way down to the final second.

  • @RPKraemer

    3K3Y!!!!!!!!!! Drills the 3 with .3 to play. Super King Kong Mega Three Ball!!!!!

  • @RPKraemer

    WINNER!! 66-63. Another road win!!! Thanks to all who dropped by, and thanks to Jon 3K3Y for the heartstopping 3 ball!