LIVE! Jacksonville State

LIVE! Jacksonville State

Illinois 86, Jacksonville State 62 — FINAL

CHAMPAIGN — Joseph Bertrand scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in leading Illinois to a win on Sunday at the State Farm Center.

The 6-foot-6 guard went 7 for 9 from the floor and also dished out three assists.

Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams each scored 13 points for the Illini, who moved to 2-0 for the 15th straight season. Nnanna Egwu added 10 points and seven boards.

The Illini won despite being out-rebounded 44-37 by the Gamecocks (0-2), who pulled down 25 offensive rebounds.

Freshman Jaylon Tate scored 10 points and dished out eight assists.

Brian Williams’ 12 points led the Gamecocks.

More later on HQ.

Illinois 57, Jacksonville State 40 — 11:31 second half

With all the talk about more foul calls, Nnanna Egwu wasn’t whistled for one until the 13:17 mark today. It was the big man’s first foul of the season. Impressive stuff.

Illinois started the half 0 for 8. I believe seven of those shots were from inside 2 feet.

Paris Parham came out of the halftime locker room and joked with Jerry Hester to stop calling all the fouls.

Noted Broncos fan and Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas is trying to avoid the details of Denver’s game. I asked him at the half how the Broncos were doing. “I don’t know. I don’t want to know, I’m recording it,” Thomas said.

The Broncos won 28-20 in San Diego. I hope Mike’s not reading this.

Jon Ekey has his first field goal in an Illinois uniform. He flushed one off an inbounds pass under the basket. He ended the 0 for 8 start to the half for Illinois.

Then he buried a three a little bit later.

The Illini are giving up too many offensive boards. Paris Parham and John Groce are getting all over the guys on the floor because of it.

Illinois 40, Jacksonville State 27 — HALFTIME

Joseph Bertrand had a heck of a half for the Illini. He led the way with 14 points and grabbed five boards. He’s 4 for 4 from the floor and 6 for 7 from the foul line.

Rayvonte Rice’s short put back at the buzzer rolled out.

Because a few guys had two fouls, Groce went offense for defense late in the half.

Abrams, Ekey, Rice and Nunn all had two.

It took Loren until the 7:47 mark to realize Illinois had changed its uniforms to avoid that dreadful orange-on-red showdown.

“Fellas, they’re punking us on the glass.” — John Groce

More Groce: “I wanna push JoJo.” Not sure what that means.

And more: “I don’t want Joe bringing the ball up.” I know what that means.

Tracy Abrams was taken down by the jersey on a desperation inbounds pass and no foul was called. A lot of folks were upset.

Austin Colbert missed a pair of free throws. They looked rough. First one hit the backboard first. Nnanna Egwu cleaned the other one up for a put-back bucket.

There’s a man sitting near the players’ families wearing sunglasses. Must be bright over there.

Until Rayvonte Rice missed a three-pointer at about the five-minute mark, Rice, Bertrand and Egwu were 10 for 10 from the floor.

Egwu now has been called for two three-second violations this season.

Illinois shot 58.3 percent (14 for 24) in the half and 0 for 3 from beyond the arc.

The Illini went 12 for 19 from the foul line. A total of 23 fouls were called in the half.

The Gamecocks shot 8 for 28 (28.6 percent) from the floor and 1 for 8 (12.5 percent) from deep. They were 10 for 15 from the foul line.

Illinois was outrebounded by JSU 17-14.

Ricce and Egwu had eight points apiece.

The martial arts kids are performing. I’m gonna go watch this.

Illinois 18, Jacksonville State 8 — 11:22 first half

Joe Bertrand is going all Joseph Bertrand with the fancy dribbling and leaving guys’ jock straps on the deck. He’s got five early points and has looked good in the process.

His older brother is in the crowd.

Joe cut his leg. Athletic trainer Paul Schmidt cleaned it up for him.

Apparently Jacksonville State’s Darrion Rackley was born in 1992. He’s got “1992” tattooed on his right triceps.

Tracy Abrams got called for a block that Groce didn’t think was a block. Abrams went to the bench with two fouls at the 13:56 mark.

“Good poise!” was what Groce yelled at his guys after a long possession against the Gamecocks’ zone that ended in a Bertrand jumper.

Malcolm Hill had to be reminded to check in at the table when replacing Jon Ekey on the floor.

Ekey left with his second foul a minute after Abrams did.

John Groce reminds Nnanna Egwu to set legal screens at every opportunity.

Joseph Bertrand was asked by the officials to take off his orange rubber bracelet just before the tip.

The Orange Krush keeps doing the thing where they count down the shot clock early for the opposing team. It hasn’t really worked so well this season and during the exhibition games.

The Illinois bench is all over Jacksonville’s plays. They’re calling out everything before it happens.

Valpo is leading North Park 113-50, according to Loren Tate. He’s more interested in that game than the one in front of him. Illinois plays Valpo on Wednesday here at the State Farm Center.

Jacksonville State (0-1) at Illinois (1-0) — TIPOFF (ESPN3)

Crisis averted, Illinois has switched to the white uniforms.

Illinois will go with the same starting lineup it used Friday night. Tracy Abrams, Rayvonte Rice, Joseph Bertrand, Jon Ekey and Nnanna Egwu. No surprise there.

I’ve got to turn in my AP Top 25 ballot tonight. I see nothing to warrant any changes to my top five (Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, Kansas). I’m probably not going to put Kansas State in the poll. Illinois isn’t getting a vote either.

Jabari Parker was pretty sensational the other night. Someone said to me Friday night that Parker has never impressed him. He must have been smoking those rocks Toronto mayor Rob Ford was hitting.

Jacksonville State has a Chicagoland product on its roster. Joe Kuligowski is a redshirt freshman from Orland Park. He prepped at Sandburg.

Jacksonville State is 0-2 all-time against the Big Ten. The Gamecocks lost at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season and last season at Nebraska.

We’ve got visual confirmation on Twitter that Cliff Alexander is at the Kansas women’s basketball game today. He’s seated next to Jerrance Howard.

A bunch of kids wearing black martial arts uniforms just showed up. I’m scared.

Sherrika Ellison sang the National Anthem. She was amazing as usual. She’s wearing some long, orange heels. That looks like a very athletic accomplishment.

John Groce met her at half court and told her she was great.

Jaylon Tate’s mom, Arisa Johnson, just came over to say hello with Jaylon’s younger sister Jory. Very nice family. Says they’re making the trip to Vegas in a couple of weeks.

The crowd to start isn’t as good as it was Friday night.

John Groce was clapping along to "Oskee Wow Wow."

He's done a lot of clapping here early.

Jacksonville State (0-1) at Illinois (1-0) — 5 p.m. tipoff (ESPN3)

As I feared, Jacksonville State is wearing red. The Illini warmed up in orange. This could be Illinois-Wisconsin in 2005 all over again. Maybe the Illini will change?

Director of basketball operations Mark Morris joined us on the pregame show to talk a little about the Illinois team and today’s opponent.

Morris says the Gamecocks like to pressure the ball on the wings, so watch out for that today.

In the opener, a concern for Illinois was Alabama State’s ability to rebound the ball. It wasn’t an issue, as the Illini outrebounded the Hornets 52-28, including a 20-10 advantage on the offensive glass. A big reason for that was the play of Nnanna Egwu, who recorded his second straight double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

“I thought the bigs and the guards collectively did a great job of boxing out and getting rebounds,” Egwu said. “It was emphasized, we knew what we had to do. They had 17 offensive rebounds the game before, so we knew how hard they go to the glass.”

“I thought we were great on the glass,” Groce said.

Egwu said he’s not concerned with how many points he scores, but he does go into every game with the mindset to get a bunch of rebounds every time out.

“In certain situations, they’re going to come to you and matchups are going to be different every game,” Egwu said. “The mindset is to get double figures in rebounds every game.”

Checked in on a couple of former Illini playing at other programs this season. Crandall Head is finally eligible at SMU and Luther’s little brother scored two points in four minutes of Friday’s win against TCU. Former Illinois State coach Tim Jancovich is on Larry Brown’s SMU staff and former Redbird guard Nic Moore led the way for the Mustangs with 13 points and eight boards.

Devin Langford, who left the Illini program shortly after last season’s NCAA tournament loss to Miami (Fla.) is now at Kentucky Wesleyan where he’s eligible to play immediately at the Division II program. Langford, projected as a starter for the Panthers, has not played in either of the team’s first two games while serving a suspension. No reason has been given for Langford’s suspension, which also includes two other players.

KWU’s Lonnie Hayes scored a school-record 57 points in a loss to Lake Erie. He only made one three-pointer and went 26 for 30 from the foul line.

To my knowledge, Jacksonville State has not developed any Grammy Award-nominate rappers like Alabama State.

Randy Owen, the lead singer of Alabama, went to school there.

True story, I once struck out four times in a game against Jacksonville State in college, a week after going 7 for 8 in a doubleheader. I swung and missed so much that day I tore a ligament in my thumb. Low point of my athletic career.

I just realized I haven’t eaten since breakfast. I forgot. I need to grub. Be back later.

Jacksonville State (0-1) at Illinois (1-0) — 5 p.m. tipoff (ESPN3)

Good afternoon and welcome to the Live Report for Game No. 2 of the 2013-14 Illinois basketball season. I’ll be here with you throughout the course of today’s events to keep you updated on all things happening here at the State Farm Center.

This one should be another easy one for John Groce’s club, but with such a young and inexperienced team, you never know what you’re going to get. Groce was relatively pleased with the effort in Friday’s season opener against Jacksonville State, but he was somewhat disappointed in how his team finished. The group that played the last five minutes was comprised mostly of freshmen and Groce thought they got a little sloppy.

“I thought we had a lot of soft plays at the close,” Groce said. “We’ll clean that up.”

In letting the lead go from 28 to 17, the young Illini got careless with the basketball.

“Obviously, we don’t want to turn the ball over 15 times, so we’ll take a look at those and clean that up a little,” Groce said.

Rayvonte Rice, the hometown kid, was stellar in his debut, scoring 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and he went 9 for 10 from the foul line. He’s going to shoot a lot of free throws this season.

“Coach just tell me to always be aggressive, so being aggressive and attacking the basket and getting all the way to the rim,” Rice said.

Jacksonville enters today’s game after losing its season opener at Bradley on Friday. The Gamecocks aren’t very deep as only one bench player played more than nine minutes against the Braves. If Illinois can continue with its 11-man rotation, it should be able to wear the Gamecocks down.

Watched the end of the Bears-Lions game down in the media room. I’m not a happy camper right now.

In things you don’t care about, though, my fantasy team is doing great. Unhappy with my starting quarterback Matt Ryan, I picked up Nick Foles and he’s been a great addition to the squad. He’s great for team chemistry and he’s productive.

Ahmad Starks was going through another big-time workout with Jamall Walker a couple hours before the game.

A bomb-sniffing dog just rolled by me. He didn’t bark. I feel safe.

The Illini are wearing orange again. Jon Ekey was the first player on the court again. Hope JSU isn’t wearing red. That would be a nightmare.

Hopping on the pregame show with Steve Kelly and Loren Tate. I’m excited to hear Gene Honda say my name again for the open. I giggle like a little kid every time I hear that.

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