News Local/State

Illini to Play Baylor After Defeating Indiana State At Vegas

Illini basketball player Malcolm Hill.

Malcolm Hill drives against Indiana State Jake Kitchell (#0) and Justin Gant (Rob McColley/Illinois Public Media)

Illinois’s men’s basketball squad meets Baylor Friday night at the Las Vegas Invitational, after their 88-62 Thanksgiving Day win over Indiana State.

The Illini men blazed out of the gates Thursday afternoon, running up a 20-to-6 lead over Indiana State, in just 4 minutes and 42 seconds.

But after that the Illini cooled off considerably. Their 26-point- margin of victory win doesn't tell the tale of what went right and what went wrong.

Coach John Groce says the team was “hitting on all cylinders” early in the first half, but that the players then showed poor shot selection and allowed eight turnovers.

“And that put some pressure on our defense”, said Groce, who says the turnovers were talked about “a little bit” in the locker room during halftime.

Groce thought the second half of the game started slower than the first, but that sophomore Malcolm Hill helped pick things up.

“I thought Hill really jumpstarted us at both ends of the floor”, said Groce. “I thought that might have been the most complete game of his career.”

Hill hit 11 of 12 free throws down the stretch, as a torrent of three-pointers from the Sycamores Grant Prusator threatened to make the game interesting. Hill was concerned by Prusator’s scoring spree.

“He had, like, 14 points in ten minutes”, said Hill. “That’s bad. We need to close out games better, --- better than what we did today.”

Hill and Prusator finished with 17 points apiece.

Rayvonte Rice led all scorers with 21, and added five steals and seven rebounds.

The win moves the Illini to a matchup with Baylor for the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Baylor Bears beat Memphis 71 to 47 Thursday night to qualify for the title game.

The game starts at 9:30 Central, Friday night at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.