UI grade vs. Penn State: B+

UI grade vs. Penn State: B+

Player of the Gane
Illinois' Rayvonte Rice

He wasn’t hitting all of his shots, so the former Charger found other ways to help. Like rebounding (seven) and free throws (seven). Opposing defenses are going to try to lock down Rice. His job is to make them pay by getting others involved. He’ll take the 20-point win over a 20-point game.

Backcourt
Illinois B+, Penn State F

Tracy Abrams struggled from the field, missing 10 of 13 shots. But his 5:0 assist-to-turnover ratio kept John Groce smiling. The Penn State guards are supposed to be a strength, but D.J. Newbill killed the team with his ejection.

Frontcourt
Illinois B, Penn State D

Thanks to Jon Ekey and Nnanna Egwu nabbing eight rebounds each, the Illini won the battle of the boards by 11. Impressive. Lions starters were a combined 4 of 21 from the field. Extra shooting practice is a must.

Bench
Illinois A, Penn State A-

Nice work by Malcolm Hill, who scored eight points and was perfect on four three throws. That will get you late minutes. Without John Johnson’s game-high 18, Lions would have lost by 30.

Overall
Illinois B+, Penn State D

Good when your shots aren’t falling and you still win going away. Might be time for the AP voters to put the Illini in their Top 25s this week. The defense is certainly at that level. At least there will be a new football coach to talk about at Penn State.

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