Hill's Big Night Provides Spark, Now Groce Wants Consistency

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CHAMPAIGN -- When Illinois learned they would be without the services of senior guard Rayvonte Rice, many wondered who would be able to fill his shoes.

While it would have been easy to expect that role to go to sophomore Malcolm Hill, it was a pleasant surprise to see that transition happen right away, in a really big game.

"I thought tonight he was terrific," said head coach John Groce.  Hill scored 28 points -- 18 of those in a key 2nd half -- in a 64-57 win over 11th-ranked Maryland on Wednesday night.

"They told me to keep being aggressive. That's when I was like 1-for-4, 1-for-5," said Hill.  "I think a lot of the plays I made were from my teammates.  They set me up well.  I think a lot of us stepped up on the offensive end."

Indeed, Illinois (11-5, 1-2) had contributions everywhere. Jaylon Tate made his first career start, and added a career-high 10 points.  Nnanna Egwu scored 11, with 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks to go with an inspired defensive effort, helping hold the Terrapins to just 36.5% shooting.

Hill's big night shot him up the Big Ten scoring ranks. Early in the conference season (3 games), Hill ranks fifth in the conference, scoring 18.3 points per game.

It was yet another breakout game for Hill, but it came on the heels of an 8-point performance at Ohio State. In fact, the last time Hill scored 20 points (against Villanova), he followed it with 6 points on 3-of-11 shooting against Oregon.

The next step for Hill, according to his coach, is the eliminate those "down" games.
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