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Cold-shooting No. 24 Illinois endures its 1st loss against No. 15 Miami Hurricanes, 70-61

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CORAL GABLES, Florida — Illinois was trying to mount a comeback with less than four minutes to go when Rayvonte Rice pulled up and launched an open 3-pointer.

Clank.

So it went most of the night for the No. 24-ranked Illini. They missed 10 of their final 11 attempts, shot 33 percent and lost to No. 15 Miami in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, 70-61 on Tuesday.

"I was proud of our guys," Illinois coach John Groce said. "Thank goodness they fought and their effort was really good, because the execution was awful. Our heart was in the right place. We just have to play a heck of a lot smarter."

Illinois, which came into the game averaging 90 points, went 7 for 30 from 3-point range. Rice led the Illini with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Malcolm Hill added 13 points, but the rest of the team shot 23 percent.

The Illini missed 46 shots.

"I'd say 50 percent we just missed, and 50 percent we were out of rhythm a little bit," Groce said. "We needed to be a little bit more patient."

The Illini fell to 6-1 with their earliest loss in the past four years. Miami, which has never previously been ranked so high so early in a season, improved to 8-0.

Three guards scored in double figures for the Hurricanes, including freshman Deandre Burnett with a season-high 19 points.

"They were really hard to guard," Groce said. "They put four guard out there a lot, they spread the floor and they made good plays."

Burnett, limited by a knee injury at the start of the season, became the fourth player to lead the young Hurricanes in scoring. Manu Lecomte had 15 points and Sheldon McClellan added 14. Angel Rodriguez added nine points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

"Basketball is about balance," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "With this team, we have so many guards who play a lot and can handle the ball, they're very good at sharing it and having good balance in our attack."

PHOTO: Illinois guard Rayvonte Rice (24) looks for an open teammate past Miami guard Sheldon McClellan (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee),
Illinois guard Rayvonte Rice (24) looks for an open teammate past Miami guard Sheldon McClellan (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee),

The Hurricanes won despite shooting only 38 percent, including 9 for 30 from 3-point range. But they went 17 for 21 at the free-throw line, while Illinois went 8 for 12.

Miami was up 37-24 at halftime for its largest lead, but Illinois scored the first 10 points of the second half. The Illini cut the deficit to 48-46 but could get no closer.

Three-pointers by Omar Sherman — his only basket — and Rodriguez helped the Hurricanes regain their cushion. They sealed the win by sinking five of six free throws in the final minutes, and in the closing seconds the crowd of 6,086 chanted, "A-C-C! A-C-C!"


GOOD CROWD

Miami's program is historically attendance-challenged, and Larranaga and his players had lobbied students to turn out for the game.

"It definitely felt like a basketball school," McClellan said. "The students came out and supported us and we thank them for that. We'd like to have them come out every game like that. That was a big boost for us. It gave us energy and positive things to feed off."

TIP-INS

Illinois: Rice continued his streak of scoring at least 14 points in every game this season.

Miami: The Hurricanes went 22 for 58 after shooting better than 50 percent in each of the past four games.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts American on Saturday.

Miami hosts Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday.

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