UI grade vs. UNLV: A
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Rayvonte Rice, Illinois. As if this was even up for debate. The Champaign native was four points shy of matching his career high of 29 and provided the game winner in the closing minute.
Rice was the main attraction and though he scored just six points, Tracy Abrams’ four assists, including the one to Rice on the game winner, were crucial.
Jon Ekey didn’t shot it well, but he made a clutch three when it counted. Nnanna Egwu’s two three-pointers in the second half kept the Illini in the game when the Rebels were rolling.
The Illini freshmen played with veteran-like poise in their first road game, all making significant contributions, led by Jaylon Tate (five assists, one turnover) and Maverick Morgan (four points, four rebounds).
Billed as the first true test of the season, the Illini passed in a game that saw them rally from a 10-point halftime deficit in front of a hostile crowd. It’s a good sign for a team that continues to build chemistry with so many new faces.