Georgia Tech vs Illinois

Time: 09:00 P.M. EST
  •  

Illinois is undefeated and has already won a major regular-season tournament, but the Fighting Illini are far from satisfied.

Ranked for the first time this season, the No. 22 Illini look to continue their early success Wednesday night when they host Georgia Tech as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Not much was expected from Illinois (7-0) after it lost 12 of its final 14 to finish 17-15 in 2011-12, missing the NCAA tournament for the third time in five seasons. That disappointing conclusion cost Bruce Weber his job, but with five of their top seven scorers back, the Illini are off to a strong start under former Ohio coach John Groce.

"We've got seniors that have been through a lot," Groce said last week. "They stay very poised and very even-keeled. ... That's a part of our culture."

Illinois, which started 10-0 last season, took advantage of some early tournament upsets en route to the Maui Invitational title last week, beating Southern California, Chaminade and Butler.

Averaging 18.7 points on the season, Brandon Paul was named tournament MVP in Maui, where Illinois averaged 85.3 points and shot 50.3 percent while avoiding Texas and North Carolina.

"Anyone who thinks that's a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team, I would argue with them," said Butler coach Brad Stevens, whose team lost 78-61 to the Illini in the final.

For as well as Illinois played in Maui, Groce and his players know they are far from perfect.

Prior to the tournament, the Illini needed overtime to win 78-77 at Hawaii on Nov. 16. After returning to the mainland, Tyler Griffey hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to give Illinois a 63-62 home victory Sunday over Gardner-Webb. The Illini have failed to outrebound either of their last two opponents and shot 43.8 percent while committing 18 turnovers Sunday.

"We've taken two haymakers now," Groce said. "By no means have we arrived. We still have work to do."

The Illini again have a chance to prove their worth when they play as a ranked team for the first time since Jan. 22. This will be Illinois' first meeting with Georgia Tech since a 105-66 win Nov. 23, 2001.

Illinois is 6-7 all-time in the annual series between the ACC and Big Ten, but is trying for its fourth consecutive victory in the Challenge. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is trying to avoid a fifth straight loss in the event.

The Yellow Jackets (4-1) are coming off a 65-56 victory over Saint Mary's on Sunday in the third-place game of the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim. Brandon Reed scored 19 points as Georgia Tech bounced back from a 68-57 loss to California on Friday. The Yellow Jackets went 7 of 19 (36.8 percent) from 3-point range after going 11 of 67 (16.4 percent) in their first four contests.

"It will give us great confidence," said Reed, who was 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. "We need to hit it from the inside first and be ready to shoot and knock it down. This game will raise the confidence of the guards."

Georgia Tech's scoring leader is talented freshman swingman Marcus Georges-Hunt, who averages 11.4 points and 5.0 rebounds.

The Yellow Jackets have dropped eight in a row against non-conference Top 25 opponents since a 92-85 win over No. 12 Memphis on Nov. 21, 2006.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
ACC
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Virginia16-230-47
Duke15-335-46
Notre Dame14-432-616
Louisville12-627-921
N. Carolina11-726-1211
Miami (Fla.)10-825-1365
NC State10-822-1439
Syracuse9-918-1369
Pittsburgh8-1019-1576
Clemson8-1016-15106
Florida St.8-1017-16110
Wake Forest5-1313-19150
Boston College4-1413-19165
Georgia Tech3-1512-19153
Va. Tech2-1611-22228
Big Ten
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Wisconsin16-236-44
Maryland14-428-713
Michigan St.12-627-1223
Iowa12-622-1243
Purdue12-621-1355
Ohio St.11-724-1141
Indiana9-920-1461
Illinois9-919-1473
Michigan8-1016-1680
Minnesota6-1218-1598
Northwestern6-1215-17124
Nebraska5-1313-18158
Penn St.4-1418-16108
Rutgers2-1610-22179

Related Video

 

CBSSports.com Shop

Men's Nike White Florida State Seminoles 2015 Coaches Preseason Sideline Polo

Nike 2015 College Coaches Polos
Get your school today
Shop Now

 
 
 
Other Games
MIST 59 Final
UM 67
BOISE 83 Final
CREI 70
MER 58 Final
NMEX 76
OHST 68 Final
DUKE 73
NAU 50 Final
ARIZ 93
UCIRV 57 Final
UNLV 85