‘All Day Ray' was the go-to chant from the student section as Rice helped close the game down the stretch. Once again unstoppable off the drive, the junior guard finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
"Rice can score in a variety of ways," Valparaiso head coach Bryce Drew said. "He can score inside but he's very quick and he's able to get around guys also. I've watched some film and he can hit some 3s. When he does that he's hard to guard."
Three stars next in line:
Ekey overcame another off night shooting by impacting seemingly every possession with rebounds and tipped balls. He finished with 15 boards, eight of which were offensive. He probably tipped or tapped the ball out another dozen or so times, helping others get the ball when he couldn't pull it down. He added six points on 2-of-7 shooting.
"I've always tried to use my athleticism, just try to get in there, get around guys, tipping it out or grabbing it myself," Ekey said. "Today I just found a lot of holes in there. I was able to get in there and grab them or tip them out."
The senior continued his good run of productivity, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds in 35 minutes of run. He stayed on the attack and was aggressive to the basket. Perhaps he should have shot more from the outside. He hit two of his three looks from outside the arc but didn't seem eager to pull the trigger on a few occasions.
Once again Abrams had a tough night from the field, missing 10 of his first 12 shots. Down the stretch though, the junior did his thing when the game was close and he was needed most. He finished with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals.
"He had a good look in his eyes tonight," Illinois coach John Groce said. "You could tell he was ready to go. I think he was disappointed With his defensive performance (against Jacksonville State) on the grade out sheet, especially for a veteran. He's a pretty competitive kid so when he saw that Tracy instantly is a guy that wants to be better. He's a great kid. I love coaching him."
Previous Players of the Game:
Jacksonville State: Rice
Alabama State: Bertrand