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Illini Rice Out Indefinitely With Hand Injury

Ray Rice drives past Kennesaw State former Damien Wilson December 27th.

Illinois guard Rayvonte Rice (24) drives past Kennesaw State forward Damien Wilson (42) as Illinois head coach, John Groce, yells in the background on Dec. 27, (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

Illini Coach John Groce says Rayvonte Rice fractured his left hand in practice Monday, and will have surgery Wednesday.   He says a timeline as to his return will be determined after that.

"We're certainly very optimistic, but I don't want to present (the media) or anyone with a timeline until we get through surgery tomorrow," he said. "If anybody doesn't deserve for something like this to happen to them, it's him."

The 6-foot-4 senior was enjoying an all-conference type season, with 17 points and 7 rebounds per game on 51-percent shooting, including 48-percent from three-point range. 

Groce said no one player can step up and replace Rice.

“Ray’s a monster on offense, Ray’s a monster on defense, Ray’s a monster rebounding," he said.  "Ray’s one of the best players in the country.  He’s playing at that level.  Not one guy can replace Ray.  It’s got to be a collective effort.”

The guard was the leading scorer in Saturday's 77-61 loss at Ohio State.

Illinois (10-5, 0-2 in the Big Ten) host Maryland at the State Farm Center Wednesday night.

Rice suffered a groin injury early in the Big Ten season last year. He didn't miss any games, but his performance was affected.