Illini Close Out Exhibition Season With Win Over Northwood
The Illini men wrapped up their pre-season schedule last night with an 83-67 win over the Northwood Timberwolves of Midland, Michigan.
Starting point guard Tracy Abrams had to sit out with a sore hamstring. That gave the start to freshman Jaylon Tate - and provided a scoring opportunity for sophomore Mike LaTulip.
"I talked to Jaylon before the game. He said, 'we both have got to step up here," he said. "Situations like that are going to happen. So you've got to be ready when your number is called."
LaTulip held the team together, according to coach John Groce, when Northwood made a mid-game run to erase a 24-point Illinois lead.
"Mike knows what his role is," he said. "He was solid, and kinda gave us a calming influence there. I thought that was good."
Ravonte Rice led the Illini with 16 points, and Jon Ekey with nine rebounds.
Will Bowles and Wes Wilcox each scored a double-double for Northwood - 25 points and 10 rebounds for Wilcox, 16 points and 10 rebounds for Bowles.
Northwood is a Division 2 school, but Groce, speaking during the post-game press conference, was philosophical about their prowess.
"I'm not going to sit here and say, 'I like going through a 29-4 drought during a game," he said. "But can you find the positive in that? Can you turn the lemons into lemonade? Yeah, sure."
The regular season begins Friday at the State Farm Center, when the Illini host Alabama State.