Chicago State (2-3) at Illinois (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: State Farm Center (16,618) -- Champaign, Illinois. Television: BTN. Home Record: Chicago St. 2-0, Illinois 4-0. Away Record: Chicago St. 0-3, Illinois 0-0. Neutral Record: Chicago St. 0-0, Illinois 0-0. Conference Record: Chicago St. 0-0, Illinois 0-0. Series Record: Illinois leads, 10-0.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois Fighting Illini close out a season-opening five-game homestand on Friday evening, as they welcome the Chicago State Cougars to the State Farm Center for a non-conference matchup.
John Groce's Illini have opened up the season with four straight double-digit victories, including a 81-55 rout of Bradley last Sunday. Illinois is taking aim at a 5-0 start for the third straight season.
Tracy Dildy's Cougars will try to prevent that from happening. However, early returns aren't hugely promising, as Chicago State has started slow with a 2-3 mark through its first five games. The Cougars enter this contest off back- to-back losses to Bradley (77-64) and Alabama State (79-75) as part of the Global Sports Invitational.
This marks the 11th meeting between these two teams all-time. Illinois has won all 10 previous matchups, including a 90-43 lopsided affair in the last meeting in 2011. Every game in this series has taken place in Champaign.
Senior Quinton Pippen erupted for 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but it wasn't enough in a four-point loss to Alabama State earlier in the week. Junior Clarke Rosenberg came off the bench to add 14 points, while senior Matt Ross finished with 12 for the Cougars, who allowed Alabama State to score 20 second-chance points in the game.
The offensive numbers haven't been awful this season for Chicago State, which is shooting a modest 40 percent from the floor, while putting up 73.4 ppg. The defensive effort has been inconsistent however, and as a result, the team is saddled with a -3.2 scoring margin, giving up 76.6 ppg. Pippen is the team's top scorer (15.6 ppg), but is shooting well under 40 percent from the floor (.370). Ross and Rosenberg add 13.6 ppg apiece. Ross has also suffered from sub par shooting (.380), but leads the team in rebounding (7.2 rpg). Rosenberg is shooting the ball extremely well overall (.530) and from 3-point range (.540).
The Illini aren't exactly scorching the nets either, but the way the team has played defensively, gaudy offensive numbers aren't needed. Illinois is averaging 77.8 ppg on just .437 shooting, but enjoys an impressive +19.8 scoring margin thanks to shutdown defense that is limiting foes to just 58.0 ppg on .340 shooting. In addition, the team has dominated play on the boards, owning a +13.5 rebounding advantage. Four of the team's five starters are currently averaging double figures, led by Rayvonte Rice's 16.5 ppg. Joseph Bertrand is next in line at 13.3 ppg, followed by Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu with 11.5 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.
The Illini pushed the Braves around last time out, holding Bradley to just .356 shooting, including an ugly 2-of-13 effort from behind the arc, while owning a huge 49-25 edge in rebounding. Jon Ekey led the offensive charge for Illinois with 19 points. Rice had a strong all-around game with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Abrams and Egwu chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Chicago State lacks ideal size and that will cause big problems against a team as physical as Illinois.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 86, Chicago State 53
11/22 10:33:05 ET