You think Rice can handle playing in the Big Ten conference? The junior erased all doubts after posting 28 points, eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block. He also played a major role in defending Yogi Ferrell down the stretch, holding him to only one basket in the final 11-plus minutes of play.
"I think he's a tough, tough guy," Illinois coach John Groce said. "Obviously he does a lot of things from a skill set perspective and production and statistically perspective, but I think his best quality is he's just a tough, tough guy."
Three stars next in line:
Four turnovers were just about the only negative for Abrams, who once again made winning plays and carried himself with a tough demeanor throughout. He finished with 17 points, three assists, three steals and two rebounds and shot 8 of 12 from the field.
Bertrand did what Bertrand does. He made the hustle plays. He scooped up offensive rebounds for put-backs. And he converted yet another soaring dunk that should land himself in the highlight reels. He notched 13 points and seven boards (four offensive), helping the Illini take down the Hoosiers in Champaign for a fifth straight time,.
The freshman guard is quietly coming along, progressing into the sixth man role. He scored seven points and had three steals in 14 minutes of run, seeing time down the stretch thanks to his defensive abilities with the game on the line.
"Nunn was unbelievable late in the game," Groce said "… I thought he made a lot of toughness plays for us late in the game."