Illinois 72, Dartmouth 65 — FINAL
CHAMPAIGN — Malcolm Hill scored a career-high 10 points to go along with four rebounds while Rayvonte Rice added 13 in helping the Illini survive ahead of Saturday’s matchup with No. 15 Oregon in Portland.
Jon Ekey, Nnanna Egwu and Joseph Bertrand all scored 11 points for the Illini, who improved to 9-1 with the win.
Connor Boehm, a product of north suburban New Trier, scored 17 points for Dartmouth. Gabas Maldunas also scored 17 for Dartmouth, which got 14 from Eli Harrison.
More later on HQ. Check into the WDWS postgame show now by calling 356-9397 or 1-800-223-9397 — listen live at WDWS.com.
Illinois 51, Dartmouth 36 — 11:07 second half
Tracy Abrams was helped off the floor early in the half with an apparent leg injury. Not sure what exactly the injury is. He seemed pretty aggravated about it. Athletic trainer Paul Schmidt took a look on him on the bench.
He returned to the game a few minutes later, but looks to still be in some pain. He’s a tough dude. He’s playing well.
Rayvonte Rice made a layup after a steal early in the half that not a lot of guys can make.
Malcolm Hill continues to have an impressive game at both ends of the floor. He’s bene aggressive and has a career-high eight points. He had seven in the season opener against Alabama State.
Pretty subdued crowd here tonight. Kind of a boring game. It’s the last time we’ll be in this building until New Year’s Eve.
Conner Groce made the Dance Cam. He’s having a blast. He knows how to find the cameras.
everyone has stopped talking about Nick Saban here for a while. There's a game going on in front of us or something.
Illinois 39, Dartmouth 27 — HALFTIME
Malcolm Hill was solid late in the half. He got physical in the post with Connor Boehm after Boehm had been killing them down there. He buried his second three-pointer in as many games, too. Then he hit another one.
This could be his break out. He came out of the game in the final minute of the half and got a nice hand from the crowd.
Dartmouth switched to a zone for a stretch. I know because Loren yelled out “ZONE!” Something about zone defenses gets him jumpy.
The Illinois bench is calling for its defenders to pressure the ball better on the perimeter. I know because Dustin Ford keeps yelling “Pressure the ball! Pressure the ball!”
Connor Boehm is killing the Illini in the post.
The Illinois bench didn’t like the offensive foul called on Jon Ekey. Curry told them “You can’t initiate contact from the back side.” They’re still not buying it.
It was Ekey’s second foul.
Groce was really hot at the officiating late in the half. The whistles were going against his team and one in particular, against Jaylon Tate got him going. Tate’s arm was grabbed by a Dartmouth offensive player on a screen “He does that on film!” Groce shouted.
Illinois shot 15 for 27 (55.6 percent) from the floor and 5 for 10 from three.
Five players had at least five points, led by Nnanna Egwu’s seven.
Dartmouth shot 10 for 25 (40 percent) from the floor and 1 for 7 (14.3 percent) from long range in the half.
The Big Green was led by Boehm and Gabe Maldunas with eight points apiece.
Dartmouth out-rebounded the Illini 15-11.
Illinois 15, Dartmouth 8 — 10:43 first half
Alley-oop to Ekey on the first play of the game. He missed it.
Connor Boehm has a huge pad protecting his right elbow. He’s a big dude.
He’s got a cheering section here.
Tracy Abrams remains hot. He drilled his first three-point attempt of the night. Then he took it to the bucket and scored the next play.
Abrams ran down a long loose ball, tapped it back into play, but it ultimately went to Dartmouth. Groce appreciated it. “Great effort, Trace!”
Groce called out a play and as it was developing, he said to himself “Read this thing, Tate.” He did, the shot just didn’t go.
Four of the five freshman played early in the game. Tate, Nunn, Morgan and Hill all saw action in the first six minutes.
Nnanna Egwu threw a pass that would make EIU quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo proud. Tracy missed the layup.
Most of press row is following, via Twitter, the Nick Saban-to-Texas saga. I’m getting play-by-play.
Mike Cation just announced the Jan. 4 game against Penn State, the Jan. 15 game against Purdue and the Feb. 1 game against Iowa are being sold in a pack for $49. Visit fightingillini.com for details.
Dartmouth (3-3) at Illinois (8-1) — TIPOFF (Big Ten Digital Network)
Illinois’ starters tonight are Tracy Abrams, Rayvonte Rice, Joseph Bertrand, Jon Ekey and Nnanna Egwu.
Dartmouth will counter with Connor Boehm, Alex Mitola, Gabe Maldunas, Kevin Crescenzi and John Golden.
Jim Schipper, Steve McJunkins (excellent name) and Eric Curry are the officials tonight.
Austin Colbert is on tonight’s game poster.
Austin is wearing new shoes tonight. They’re bright orange and kinda snazzy. I’m guessing he’ll end up on that College Kicks on the Court website that points out nice, unique shoes worn by college basketball players.
The honorary coaches for tonight’s game are Jeni Thomas and Allison Groce. Jeni is the wife of Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas.
Allison’s husband’s name in John.
Jeni Thomas bid on the opportunity at a recent auction and ended up winning. Her goal tonight is to not get a technical foul.
They even did the requisite photo on the court with the Illini coach before the game.
“Chelsea Dagger” played here a little bit before tipoff. I love that song. Speaking of which, tough news for the Blackhawks today as it was announced Corey Crawford will miss about three weeks with a groin injury. I have faith in Antti Raanta, a lot more than Nikolai Khabibulin. Not sure how that guy keeps getting job.
I digress. On to basketball for the remainder of the night.
Dartmouth (3-3) at Illinois (8-1) — 7 p.m. (BTDN — Internet only)
The Orange Krush is filing in. They’ve pretty much got their section on the floor filled.
Others are arriving slowly. Maybe the cold is keeping people away.
I can guarantee you this: There will be more people here tonight than were in Atlanta on Sunday for the Auburn game. Might be more people here tonight than both game sin Atlanta combined. There were 8,775 in attendance between those two games.
I just spotted two cheerleaders shaving in the bathroom. Male cheerleaders, in case you were confused about which restroom I visited.
FYI, this game isn’t a traditional television broadcast tonight. It’s on the Big Ten Digital Network being produced and called by Illinois students. Matt Maniscalco (not Sam), Brett Lerner and Taylor Rooks are handling the on-air duties.
Dartmouth will be led tonight by Connor Boehm, a 6-foot-7 forward from Winnetka. He played at New Trier. His brother Peter once starred in the Shootout at the Hall here in this building back when it was a more high-profile event. Peter played baseball collegiately at Bucknell.
Dartmouth sports information director Rick Bender has enjoyed the three-game road swing here in the Midwest. Rick grew up in west suburban Oak Park.
Maverick Morgan just went through the big man workout with the other Illinois bigs. The freshman had an impressive game Sunday against Auburn with five points. He’s looking more and more comfortable out there. He’s got good hands for a big guy.
I’m expecting Joseph Bertrand’s mom Lorita to be in attendance tonight. She spent the week in Atlanta with a college friend and was on my fight back to O’Hare yesterday.
This is the first meeting between the Illini and Big Green. Dartmouth has played games against current members of the Big Ten and it is 6-21 all-time. The Big Green have defeated Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State (twice).
Dartmouth (3-3) at Illinois (8-1) — 7 p.m. (BTDN — Internet only)
Good evening from State Farm Center, a cold State Farm Center for one of just two games for the Illini here in the month of December. After tonight, the next home game for Illinois will be Dec. 31 for the Big Ten opener against Indiana.
Dartmouth players were the first on the floor here tonight. They beat Jon Ekey, who’s normally the first player out here.
Mike Cation and his beard were here early, too.
Illinois returns home feeling good about itself following Sunday’s impressive win against Auburn at Philips Arena in Atlanta. It was especially impressive considering the collapse a couple miles down the road a few days earlier in the loss to Georgia Tech.
“We learned a lot about our guys in terms of their pride and how they respond to adversity. I thought that was good for the growth of our team moving forward,” Illinois coach John Groce said.
The trick now is for the Illini to rebound and play with the same type of intensity tonight against the Ivy League opponent. It won’t be easy, Dartmouth, despite having been beaten in back-to-back games at Northern Illinois (64-57) and IPFW (80-64), are a tough matchup because of the precision with which it is capable of running the Princeton-style offense. It’s going to take some discipline for Illinois to take care of business tonight, particularly on the defensive end.
“Dartmouth is a team that obviously shoots the basketball very well. I don’t know if they recruit guys that can’t shoot threes,” Groce said. “That always makes a team very, very dangerous when they have that ability to make shots like they can make them.”
On my way through the tunnel, I saw one of the officials entering the building, looked like Jim Schipper, so that’s one of three. Schipper is a good one. Loren saw him in a hotel lobby in Wisconsin last year and thought he was an NFL player, not realizing he was going to be officiating the game later that day.
Looks like the UI student group the Rip Chords will be singing the National Anthem. It’s a female a cappella group. They just practiced. Sounded great.
Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn and Tracy Abrams were the first Illinois players out getting up shots. Jaylon Tate wasn’t far behind them.
The home team will wear orange tonight.
I will give you one guess as to what color the Big Green of Dartmouth will wear.
We’ll be back.