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Illinois (21-12) at Clemson (20-14)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 23, 11 a.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) -- Clemson, South Carolina. Television: ESPN. NIT Record: Illinois 8-4, Clemson 16-14. Series Record: Illinois leads, 3-1.

GAME NOTES: The Illinois Fighting Illini will try to continue their recent surge as they visit Littlejohn Coliseum for a second-round clash against the Clemson Tigers in the National Invitation Tournament.

The Fighting Illini notched their sixth victory in eight games on Wednesday as they overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat Boston University, 66-62, in the first round of the postseason tourney. The strong second-half effort marked the biggest Illinois comeback under coach John Groce, and the fifth time it came back from a double-digit deficit this season. The Illini shot an even 50 percent from the floor in the contest, and closed out the game on a 12-1 run.

Illinois leaned heavily on junior guard Rayvonte Rice versus Boston, as the Drake transfer tallied 28 points to go along with eight rebounds. Rice made good on 11-of-14 of his shots to establish a new career-high for made field goal attempts. Freshman guard Malcolm Hill also made his mark with 10 points and a career-best eight boards. Since the conclusion of the regular season, Rice is netting 17.3 ppg, while Tracy Abrams is averaging 13.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg and owns a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Illini's success this season has come courtesy of their excellent defensive play, which has held the opposition to just 62.5 ppg.

This will be just the fifth meeting in history between these programs on the hardwood. Illinois edged Clemson, 76-74, on Dec. 2, 2009 when it last visited Littlejohn Coliseum for its third win in the all-time series.

All 11 of coach Brad Brownell's teams have ranked in the top-50 among Division I programs in scoring defense, and Clemson's allowance of just 58.2 ppg in 2013-14 ranked second in the ACC behind only league champion Virginia. For the first time in history, two different Tigers have recorded at least 60 blocked shots in the same season. Clemson set a pair of NIT records in its 78-66 win over Georgia State in the first round, as K.J. McDaniels tied the single-game record for blocks with five, and the team broke the single-game mark with nine total rejections. Sophomore center Landry Nnoko is second on the team with 60 blocks.

In addition to anchoring the defense versus GSU, McDaniels registered a double-double with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Damarcus Harrison contributed 17 points and six boards, and Jordan Roper 11 points and four assists off the bench for Clemson, which lost freshman Jaron Blossomgame to a bruised leg which will likely keep him out of action on Sunday. Harrison has posted seven double-doubles over his last nine games and hit on 46 percent of his shots from the floor during that stretch.

Clemson has won 14 of its 17 games at home this season and 10 NIT games in a row at Littlejohn Coliseum. Illinois has a combined record of 10-8 this season in road (6-6) and neutral-site (4-2) affairs.

The winner of this game advances to face either Robert Morris or Belmont in the next round.

The Illini need to get off to a good start in this one as it is very difficult to play catch up against Clemson. Both of these programs appear to be destined for next season's NCAA Tournament as neither side has a senior starter. Illinois could come away victorious if Rice manages to stay hot.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 60, Illinois 55

03/23 10:31:46 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 56
TEMPL 70
Final
NCCU 69
NCAT 58
 
Final
DET 4
ATL 6
 
Final
TAM 2
BAL 3
 
Final
PIT 1
NYY 2
 
Final
HOU 6
PHI 3
 
Final
MIA 1
STL 4
 
Final
SFG 8
CHC 6
 
Final
CIN 3
CLE 9
 
Final
CWS 1
LOS 6
 
Final
ANA 3
MIL 2
 
Final
CHC 2
OAK 2
 
Final
SEA 9
SDP 4
 
Final
KAN 5
TEX 4
 
Final
ARI 4
COL 3
 
Final
WAS 5
NYM 4
 
Final
MIN 9
BOS 8
 
Final
BAL 5
TOR 0
 
Final
CHI 108
OKC 105
 
1st
POR 13
DAL 12
 
Final
MDES 89
MRGST 76
 
Final
SIENA 71
NIAG 54
Final
LEH 62
AMER 68
 
Final
SCAR 74
ARK 78
Final
LAF 89
BU 64
 
Final
PETE 63
FAIR 33
Final
BUCK 90
HC 83
 
Final
UNF 71
LIP 57
 
Final
TENNM 65
MORE 76
Final
COL 72
NAVY 62
 
Final
ECU 56
TEMPL 70
Final
FATL 62
UAB 59
 
Final
FLGC 62
USCU 63
 
Final
CHAR 84
WKENT 88
 
Final
MINN 63
WISC 76
Final
MIZST 48
SILL 55
Final
COPST 92
DELST 104
 
Final
FIU 59
MTST 54
Final
HAMP 69
NORST 80
 
Final
NCCU 69
NCAT 58
 
Final
COOK 72
SCST 62
 
Final
APP 67
TXST 64
 
Final
GSOUT 76
TXARL 64
 
Final
LAMON 50
UGST 58
 
Final
ODU 67
MARS 50
Final
TXSA 74
RICE 76
 
Final
FAM 64
SAV 57
 
Final
LATU 72
SMISS 61
 
Final
JST 72
ALAAM 54
 
Final
GRAM 46
ALAST 70
 
Final
TXSOU 94
ALCOR 73
 
Final
NICST 77
CARK 70
 
Final
TAMCC 85
HOUB 72
 
Final
NARZ 58
PORST 51
 
2nd
LAM 56
SHSU 60
 
Final
ARKST 76
SALA 81
 
2nd
PVU 61
SOUTH 63
 
Final
LALAF 75
ARKLR 69
 
2nd
NO 79
SELA 72
 
2nd
INCWORD 54
ABCHRIST 45
 
9:00pm Tonight
MVSU 0
ARKPB 0
 
2nd
ARZ 83
CAL 45
 
Final
WASH 47
COL 64
 
2nd
WEBER 72
IDAHO 61
 
2nd
UCONN 51
MEM 50
 
Final
UTEP 83
UNT 60
 
2nd
STEPH 87
NWST 60
 
Final
SUTAH 69
SACST 65
 
2nd
DAVID 69
VCU 46
 
2nd
IDST 74
EWASH 80
 
2nd
QUIN 56
MAR 61
 
2nd
BEL 84
EILL 55
 
2nd
DRAK 26
BRAD 31
 
Half
LBSU 30
CSNO 25
 
Half
UCI 25
CSFU 22
 
Half
UCD 25
UCR 30
 
11:00pm Tonight
ARST
STAN
11:00pm Tonight
WASU
UTAH
Final
BOS 3
CAL 4
Final
WAS 1
MIN 2
Final
PHI 3
STL 1
Final
FLA 3
DAL 4
Final
TAM 4
TOR 2
Final
NAS 3
NYI 4
 
2nd Intermission
ARI 1
VAN 0
 
1st
LOS 2
MON 0