Indiana (10-3) at Illinois (11-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 31, 3 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: State Farm Center (17,200) -- Champaign, Illinois. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Indiana 9-0, Illinois 7-0. Away Record: Indiana 0-1, Illinois 1-1. Neutral Record: Indiana 1-2, Illinois 3-1. Conference Record: Indiana 0-0, Illinois 0-0. Series Record: Indiana 85-84.
GAME NOTES: The Indiana Hoosiers travel to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini in a matchup of two Big Ten Conference powers on Tuesday afternoon.
Indiana has won four of its last five games en route to an early 10-3 record. The Hoosiers have won two in a row entering Tuesday's matchup, including a 90-66 blowout against Kennesaw State in Bloomington prior to the holiday break.
Illinois has also won its last two contests and started the season 9-0 before eventually falling to Georgia Tech at the beginning of December. The Fighting Illini downed Illinois-Chicago Saturday, 74-60, to improve to 11-2 on the season.
These two storied basketball programs will clash for the 170th time in history, with Indiana holding a very slim 85-84 all-time series lead. Last season, these two Big Ten squads didn't meet until February, and saw them split the two-game series.
Indiana had no problem defeating Kennesaw State before the team took a holiday hiatus. Yogi Ferrell scored 25 points and Noah Vonleh added another 14 points to go along with nine rebounds in the 90-66 thrashing. The Hoosiers as a team shot a season-best 62.7 percent from the floor in the non-conference finale. Ferrell added six assists and five rebounds in the contest, while going 8- for-12 shooting. Will Sheehey scored 15 points for the Hoosiers in the win. Kennesaw State was outrebounded by Indiana, 41-29, and committed 18 turnovers. Indiana led 43-25 at halftime, and scored on five of the team's first six possessions in the second half. The Hoosiers have scored at least 90 points in five contests this season.
Ferrell leads the Hoosiers in scoring with a 16.8 ppg average, while Sheehey is third on the team averaging 10.8 ppg. Ferrell is the team leader in assists at 4.2 apg, although that doesn't say much since the Hoosiers have only four players averaging more than one assist per game. Vonleh pulls down 9.5 rpg and is second on the team in scoring at 12 ppg. He's also tied for the team lead in blocks with 12 and is tied for second with 14 steals.
Illinois trailed by 10 at halftime to UIC, but made a furious comeback in the second half, led by Rayvonte Rice. The Fighting Illini went on an 8-0 run out of the gate in the second half to cut the lead to two points over the first minute and four seconds. Rice scored seven points in 58 seconds a few minutes later to turn the two-point deficit into a five-point advantage. Rice finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Tracy Abrams was second on the Illini squad with 16 points and four assists. Illinois only shot 28 percent from 3-point range in the contest, and was outrebounded 25-22. The Illini managed to force 13 turnovers compared to four they gave away. UIC shot just 26.1 percent in the second half, allowing Illinois to make the comeback.
Rice leads the team, averaging 18.2 ppg, and is also tops in steals (16), second in rebounds per game (5.5), and third in assists (25). Rice is shooting 50 percent on the season from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the 3- point arc. Abrams registers second with 12.7 ppg and has the most assists on the team with 42. Joseph Bertrand is the final Illini player averaging double figures with 10.8 ppg.
The last time Indiana won in Champaign was back in the 2008 season. Illinois is hot right now, especially at home. Expect it to be a close contest, but give the edge to Illinois.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 78, Indiana 74
12/31 10:32:03 ET