But what was a huge opportunity for Illinois turned into a nightmare second half after the Illini watched an 11-point lead slip away as they fell 77-70 to the Ducks on an especially cold night shooting.
The Illini, other than Rayvonte Rice, struggled mightily from the field, shooting a collective 23-64 (35.9 percent) from the field, including just 7-19 (36.8 percent) from 3. The Illini were 17-20 from the free throw line, after making their first 14 in the first half, but got to the line only 6 times in the second half.
However, Rice was a bright spot for the Illini and kept the team in this game. The senior willed his team on continually throughout the game, but despite 9-16 shooting, including 5-7 from three and a total of 29 points to lead all scorers, Rice's efforts weren't enough to get Illinois over the top.
Dillon Brooks, an Oregon freshman and Canada native, was a problem for Illinois all night. The freshman star finished with 24 points on 9-15 shooting from the field, despite picking up his fourth foul in the early-mid point of the second half.
As a team, Oregon finished 30-65 from the field for a 46.2 percent mark from the floor, eclipsing the Illini's mark by a healthy amount. The Illini finished with fewer turnovers, more steals, and a better mark from the free throw line, but struggled to put the ball in the hoop almost all night and ultimately went home with their third loss of the season.
Up next for Illinois is Hampton at home in four days before the team heads down to St. Louis for the annual Braggin' Rights game against Missouri, who have also been in a serious slump this year.
Conference play begins December 30th as the Illini head up to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines.