Illinois vs. Valparaiso Game Recap: Ray Rice Helps Illini Out Ugly Crusaders

Illinois's Rayvonte Rice drives on Moussa Gueye (left) and Lexus Williams - Ben Woloszyn-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that saw neither team able to make a shot from the floor, the Illini just out-uglied Valparaiso for a 64-52 win

Editor's Note: Sometimes it takes a little time to get over a loss, especially a game that ended like this. Kyle was nice enough to try and put his thoughts down post fact for this game. He might still be wiping up the tears.

That was an ugly game: 32.2 percent  shooting from both teams.

As a fan of Valparaiso, that was a fun game for about 35 minutes. In the end it will go down as a loss, but it feels like something Valpo can grow on.

The Crusaders were within 4 points with 4:30 left in the game, but then Illinois went on a 13-5 run and the game was over.   Valpo showed that they missed the graduated Ryan Broekhoff when they needed someone to take over late in the game. When it came down to winning time, Rayvonte Rice put in seven points and an assist while Valpo went 2-for-7 from the field.

Here's some of the highlights:

  • Only Jordan Coleman could guard Rayvonte Rice. Rice is a lot quicker and shiftier than Valpo thought.  After seeing him against Jacksonville State, I figured he would be a problem. For some reason, late in the game LaVonte Dority was guarding him.
  • Valpo's guards struggled to shoot the ball. Coleman went 4-for-11, Dority shot 4 of 12, and Lexus Williams struggled to a 1-for-7 night.
  • I can't believe Valpo shoots free throws as badly as they do.  That will certainly change over time, but right now: oof.
  • Bobby Capobianco is a liability. He's slow defensively on the usual college 4-man; his offensive game is lacking right now.  I think he's hurting, but everything out of Valpo says he's healthy.
  • Moussa Gueye and Vashil Fernandez are going to be an imposing 1-2 punch. Teams who don't have big man depth will get hurt by them and it showed when Nnanna Egwu was out of the game. 
  • The most impressive freshman in a game that featured 122 freshman minutes was Alec Peters.  He will most certainly be a force in the Horizon League and he showed an in-state school what they will be missing out on for the next 4 years.
  • Illinois is going to do pretty well in Big 10 play.  Not many teams will play zone against them and few will have an answer for Ray Rice.
  • Rebounding changed the game. Illinois had 14 offensive rebounds and converted them into 11 second-chance points.  Which leads me to the...

Highlight of the Game

Rayriceputback

via The Champaign Room

Rayvonte Rice scored on this ridiculous put-back slam in what some would consider garbage time.  At that point I didn't feel Valpo could come back, but that was the nail in the coffin.

Valparaiso plays the Ohio Bobcats in Athens, on Sunday, where they will be going for their first road win of the season.  Ohio has beaten Northern Iowa by nine and lost by 10 at  No. 10 Ohio State.

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