CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Rayvonte Rice scored 18 points and Illinois fought off a second-half charge by Valparaiso Wednesday for a 64-52 win.
The Illini (3-0) led by eight at halftime. But the Crusaders (2-1) clawed back to within two at 49-47 on a 3-pointer by Bobby Capobianco with 6:43 to play.
Then Illinois guards Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice scored on back-to-back drives into the paint on the much bigger Crusaders to give the Illini a 54-47 lead that stood up.
After Capobianco's shot the cold-shooting Crusaders scored just one more point over the next five-plus minutes.
Joseph Bertrand added 14 for the Illini and Abrams had 12. Jon Ekey had a game-high 15 rebounds for Illinois. Nnanna Egwu had 10 points before fouling out late.
Jordan Coleman led Valparaiso with 15 points.