Illini forward Leron Black unlikely to play vs. UIC

Illini coach say sophomore forward likely to sit second straight game, while team is preparing as if center Mike Thorne Jr. will be out for season

Illinois sophomore forward Leron Black is unlikely to play Saturday against UIC at the United Center, Illini coach John Groce said on Friday.

"Right now, I would be surprised if he goes tomorrow," Groce said.

After undergoing surgery to remove a torn meniscus in his right knee in October, Black has missed three of 10 games this season, including Wednesday's win against Yale, due to pain and swelling which Groce said "limits mobility, explosiveness."

When on the floor, Black hasn't played like his normal self for the Illini (5-5), a thought Groce called "very accurate."

Black --0 who had 2 points on 1-for-11 shooting, 10 rebounds and eight fouls in 29 miuntes over his last two games --  is averaging 3.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in 1.8 minutes per game, down from 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game last season. He is shooting 41.7 percent, down from 47.5 percent last season. His fouls committed per 40 minutes also has worsened, increasing from 7.3 last season to 9.0 this season.

Black missed the first game of the season, then played 28 minutes over the next three games, accumulating nine points, seven rebounds and nine fouls.

He did not play against Chicago State and returned to have his best two performances agaainst UAB (12 points, six rebounds) and Iowa State (eight points, eight rebounds) in 43 total minutes.

"He has not felt that good since," Groce said."Will he? We'll see. I don't know at this point. It's kind of a day-to-day ordeal for us."

Long road ahead for Thorne Jr.

Senior center Mike Thorne Jr. is still out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus two weeks ago.

"He's got a long way to go, long way to go," Groce said.

Thorne Jr.,  a ffith-year transfer from Charlotte who was averaging 13.4 points and a team-leading 8.4 rebounds per game, suffered the injury against Iowa State on Nov. 28. He may not return to the court this season.

"I'm moving forward as if he's done," Groce said.


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