News Local/State

Illini Men’s Basketball Squad Opens Big Ten Play Against Michigan

Illinois guard Khalid Lewis

Khalid Lewis, who may sidelined with the mumps for Wednesday's game against Michigan, passes the ball during the Illini's Dec. 19th win over South Dakota at the State Farm Center. Rob McColley/Illinois Public Media

Illinois’ men’s basketball team is on a five-game winning streak, part of a 8-5 non-conference record this season. On Wednesday afternoon, they play their first Big Ten team of the season, when they host Michigan at the State Farm Center.

The Wolverines come to town on a hot streak, having won 8 of their last 9 games.

Illini head coach John Groce said he was especially impressed by Michigan’s 6’8” red-shirt sophomore Duncan Robinson.

“He’s got great size, he’s got a quick release”, said Groce of Robinson. “And obviously, you look at those numbers, 60% three-point shooting on 79 attempts through 13 games. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that.“

Illinois will be even more short-handed than usual when today's game tips off at 2 PM CST.

Groce says one of their players is recovering from illness, and that his condition was “day to day at this point.” Groce would not confirm report the player is Khalid Lewis, who is believed to have the mumps, “because I’m choosing not to at this point.”

Groce also announced the addition of the final member of this year's squad. He said Kipper Nichols arrived on campus Monday and practiced Monday and Tuesday.

“And boy, we’re glad to have him now and have our entire team,” said Groce. “He’s a great student, great person, and offers just a lot of versatility as a player, you know, a man’s body at 18,19 years old.”

Nichols is a six-seven small forward from Lakewood, Ohio, on the west side of Cleveland.

Nichols won't be available to play until next season due to NCAA transfer rules, having begun his college career briefly at Tulane.