Illini Roll to 5-0 With Opening Round Win at Las Vegas Invite

Posted:
LAS VEGAS -- Illinois wasted no time in making sure of an appearance in the Las Vegas Invitational championship game.

The Illini converted eight of their first nine field-goal attempts against Indiana State and Rayvonte Rice's 21 points helped them cruise to an 88-62 victory Thursday afternoon in the third-round game at the Orleans Arena.

Illinois found themselves up 30-8 just 11 minutes into the game.

"Early on, offensively and defensively, we were hitting on all cylinders," Illinois coach John Groce said. "The start dictated. Later on, we had some poor shot selections. Our effort overall was good."

Sophomore Malcolm Hill scored a career-high 17 points along with eight rebounds. He went 11 of 12 at the free-throw line for the Illini (5-0), which led throughout.

"I thought it was Hill's most complete game of his career," said Groce.

Nnanna Egwu, Aaron Cosby and Kendrick Nunn each had 10 points for Illinois, which is 3-0 in the Invitational. Rice had five steals.

Grant Prusator led Indiana State (3-2) off the bench with 17 points. Before Thursday, he only played two games this season with one field goal.

"We got taught a lesson by one of the better teams in the country," Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. "Our effort wasn't what we wanted coming out to start the game. We didn't fight them."

Reserve Brenton Scott added 10 points for the Sycamores, who are 2-1 in the tourney.

Indiana State got no closer than 19 points the rest of the first half and trailed 40-21 at intermission. By halftime, Illinois' field-goal percentage fell to 38 percent, but the Illini still made 6 of 13 from 3-point range. Indiana State finished the half at 25 percent from the field.

Rice finished with seven rebounds and went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.

"I'm taking better shots," Rice said. "My teammates are putting me in better positions. We know each others' game. We don't care who's the leading scorer."

The Illinois lead grew to as many as 30 with 13:04 left in the game. The Sycamores cut it to 17 twice with just under 5 minutes left.

This was only the second meeting between the programs, the first being in 1989, when the Illini won 93-59 in Champaign, Illinois.

TIP-INS

Illinois: This was the Illini's second trip to Las Vegas in two years. Almost one year to the day, the Illini defeated UNLV 61-59 in a more hostile environment at the Thomas & Mack Center. Rayvonte Rice had the game-winning field goal with 27 seconds left in that game.

Indiana State: This is the Sycamore's first trip to the Invitational. It also is their only trip west of the Rocky Mountains this season. Under coach Greg Lansing, the Sycamores are now 5-7 against Power 6 Conference teams, all on the road or neutral courts.
Current Conditions
/