Illinois men’s basketball preparing for Boise State


Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (21) drives to the basket during the game against Valparaiso at State Farm Center on Tuesday, March 13.

By Lucas Wright, Staff writer

Coming off a win over Valparaiso on Tuesday, the Illinois men’s basketball team drew a matchup it may not have been expecting for the Round of 16 game in the NIT.

The No. 3 seed in Illinois’ region — Utah — fell in an upset against Boise State. The Broncos come into Champaign as the No. 6 seed in the region.

On Boise State’s résumé is a win over SMU, an NCAA Tournament team, and a five-point loss to Oregon, a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Chandler Hutchison is averaging 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on the season and has shown to be a distributor. Also, he is second on the team in assists.

Finke’s status is uncertain moving forward

As the team gears up to make a run through the NIT, it may be without one of its better 3-point shooters.

Sophomore Michael Finke was out against Valparaiso with a foot injury, and interim head coach Jamall Walker was not certain on Finke’s status.

“I didn’t know Finke wasn’t going to play until 10 a.m. (before the Valparaiso game),” Walker said. “We’re going to take it day-by-day and see where it goes.”

Finke had been dealing with a foot injury since the Michigan matchup.

History is well within sight for Hill

With Malcolm Hill’s 25-point game Tuesday against Valparaiso, he put himself within striking distance of one of the most popular Illini players of all time.

Hill currently sits at 1,804 points, just eight shy of tying Dee Brown for third on the all-time scoring list at Illinois. Hill’s strong day helped balance out his four-point performance against Michigan last week and got him back on track to keep pace to pass Brown.

Hill said eclipsing 1,800 points was a huge accomplishment, but said passing Brown would be even more special.

“I’ve put a lot of hours in the gym, and I guess I don’t think about it much, but I guess it’d be a pretty cool accolade,” Hill said. “I remember being a little kid and coming to all the Illinois camps and talking to Dee and Deron (Williams) and all those players. Just the fact that my name is up there with them is pretty cool.”

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