Champaign, IL- The Illinois Fighting Illini come into tomorrow night’s game against Yale riding a 1-2 record in their last three games. John Groce and his team are ready to square off against this talented Bulldogs team and look to win consecutive games for just the second time this season.
For Illinois, in their last outing they romped the Catamounts of Western Carolina, using a big second half performance that pushed the Orange and Blue to an 80-68 victory. Redshirt freshman Michael Finke had a career-high 24 points and junior guard Kendrick Nunn added a career-best 27 points off the bench. Despite the fact the Illini came out on top, their performance throughout the game was a bit sloppy. Both teams combined for a total of 35 turnovers - Western Carolina had 19 and the Illini had 16. Illinois was able to eventually get it together in the latter stages of the game, as their defense played well and propelled the Illini to their fourth win of the season.
For Yale, in their last outing they beat the Catamounts of Vermont. Similar to the Illini, the Bulldogs had a big second half performance that sent Yale to a 72-54 victory. Senior Justin Sears had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Makai Mason had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Despite the large margin of victory, the first half was very close. The score at halftime was 34-31 in favor of Yale, but a 16-3 run to start the second half surely was a big reason as to why the Bulldogs would go on to win the game. With the win, Yale moves to 5-3 overall on the year.
Players to watch:
1. Kendrick Nunn- Illinois, G, Jr.
The junior guard has been in double figures for every game this season. He has consistently got better over his time at Illinois going from a 6.2 PPG to 19.3 PPG in just two full seasons. This past Saturday, the junior from Chicago, IL had a career-high 27 points in an 80-68 victory over the Western Carolina Catamounts.
2. Makai Mason- Yale, G, So.
The sophomore guard has had an unbelievable start to the 2015 season. Mason has had double figures in every game this season except one. His highest scoring total came against Southern Methodist back on November 22 - Mason had 24 points that game along with seven assists.
3. Malcolm Hill- Illinois, G, Jr.
The junior guard has been on the rise ever since Rayvonte Rice was sidelined last January. The then sophomore had to step up and show what he was made of. Hill came out against the ninth-ranked Maryland and dropped a career-high 28 points in an Illini win over the Terps. From that day (January 7, 2014), Hill has played outstanding. With Rice gone now, it’s all up to Hill to lead the way. Wouldn't be a shock if Rice dropped 30 against Yale, supplanting his previous career-high.
Prediction: Illinois 75, Yale 63