He was in the gym, getting extra shots up less than two hours before practice.
That led Groce to conclude this about his leading scorer, who is dealing with a strained adductor: "He must be feeling ok," Groce later told the media.
Rice suffered the injury against Northwestern, where he scored a season-low eight points as the Illini lost in low scoring, frustrating fashion.
The junior's status was in doubt before Wednesday matchup with Purdue, but he answered the call and scored 10 first half points. He managed only one point in the final 20 minutes though as Illinois (13-5, 2-3) dropped it's third straight in the Big Ten.
"I mean, I was kind of hurt but they've been giving me treatments to get me better," Rice said.
The injury and the losses have combined to teach Rice a lesson. He's still the Big Ten's second leading scorer with 17.7 points per game and has been Illinois' top scorer in 12 games. However, the past two games have cost both Rice the top spot in the scoring race and the team in the standings.
"It just shows nothing is guaranteed," he said. "You've just got to come ready to compete everyday and get better as a team."
Illinois will need its go-to guy more than ever on Saturday against No. 4 Michigan State (16-1, 5-0). It's the beginning of a five-game stretch with four opponents ranked in the Top 15.
"Ray wants to compete and he cares a lot in a lot of areas," Groce said. "Whether it's basketball, whether it's academics, whether it's treatment. That's what makes him a good player."
Rice says he's close to 100 percent, is still receiving daily treatment and is practicing as hard as he can. He's optimistic that the injury's shelf life won't be that long.
"It should be done in the next couple days," he said. "It's getting better every day. Like right now I can barely feel it. I'm getting treatment and hopefully it will go away."