CHAMPAIGN — Meeting with the media prior to Tuesday’s practice, Illinois coach John Groce said he wasn’t sure what the status of leading scorer Rayvonte Rice would be for tonight’s game against Purdue at State Farm Center.
Rice, who leads the Big Ten in scoring at 18.1 points per game, suffered an adductor strain in Sunday’s loss at Northwestern. The muscle strain near the groin limited his mobility in that game, and Groce said how effective Rice proved to be during Tuesday’s practice would go a long way in determining whether he could take the floor tonight against the Boilermakers.
“I’ve got to watch him practice and then I’ll have much more of a feel,” Groce said. “We’re not going to do anything to harm our guys. We’re going to do what’s best for Ray Rice.”
The Illini didn’t practice on the court Monday, most of the time at the Ubben Basketball Complex being dedicated to film work. Since returning from Northwestern, Rice has undergone multiple treatments with the UI sports medicine staff headed up by Paul Schmidt.
As game time approaches, Groce will huddle with Schmidt and his team to determine what role, if any, Rice will have in tonight’s game.
“I’ll trust their judgment and I’ll talk to Ray,” Groce said.
Rice was receiving treatment during Illinois’ media availability Tuesday.
If Rice cannot play, don’t expect dramatic changes with respect to scheme or style of play. A potential candidate to replace Rice in the lineup would be freshman Kendrick Nunn.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’ve done. Guys are going to have to step up at that point. Guys who have played will be asked to play a little bit more, obviously,” Groce said. “I don’t think a whole lot changes in terms of scheme and all those different things. We’re going to be who we are.”