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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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Final
WAS 110
CHA 107
Final
LOU 75
NCSU 65
Final
DUKE 63
UTAH 57
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
ATL
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NJD
Final
ATL 4
BOS 2
Final
STL 5
NYM 4
Final
PHI 0
NYY 10
Final
MIN 2
PIT 4
Final
WAS 1
STL 1
4th
BAL 0
TAM 0
 
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
Final
CHC 6
CWS 3
Final
OAK 7
TEX 6
Final
ANA 2
ARI 7
Final
ARI 3
CLE 2
6:05pm Friday
HOU 0
MIA 0
 
Final
KAN 5
SEA 1
Final
SDP 7
COL 5
Final
CIN 6
MIL 8
Final
LOS 4
SFG 8
1:05pm Today
NYY
BAL
 
1:05pm Today
TAM
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
HOU
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
PHI
 
1:05pm Today
DET
STL
 
1:05pm Today
PIT
TOR
 
1:07pm Today
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1:10pm Today
NYM
WAS
 
4:05pm Today
CIN
CHC
 
4:05pm Today
MIL
CLE
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
COL
 
4:05pm Today
CWS
OAK
 
4:05pm Today
TEX
SDP
 
4:05pm Today
SEA
SFG
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
KAN
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
LOS
 
Final
WAS 110
CHA 107
Final
ORL 97
DET 111
Final
PHI 98
LAC 119
Final
NYK 92
BOS 96
Final
BRK 106
CLE 98
Final
TOR 94
LAL 83
Final
ATL 99
MIA 86
Final
MEM 84
GSW 107
Final
HOU 120
MIN 110
Final
NOP 102
SAC 88
Final
SAN 94
DAL 76
Final
DEN 107
UTA 91
Final
PHO 81
POR 87
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
ATL
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
NYK
8:30pm Tonight
MIL
GSW
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
OKC
10:00pm Tonight
POR
DEN
Final
GONZ 74
UCLA 62
Final
LOU 75
NCSU 65
Final
DUKE 63
UTAH 57
Final
NARZ 74
KSU 73
Final
OKLA 58
MSU 62
6:09pm Tonight
WISC
ARZ
7:30pm Tonight
YALE
CAN
8:49pm Tonight
KENT
ND
Final
MIN 4
CAL 2
Final
CHI 2
CLB 5
Final
EDM 4
DAL 0
12:30pm Today
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NAS
1:00pm Today
NYI
ANA
1:00pm Today
PIT
ARI
1:00pm Today
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NYR
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SJS
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7:00pm Tonight
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