Illinois tops Boston University in NIT opener

(AP) Rayvonte Rice scored seven straight points late in the game and finished with a game-high 28, rallying Illinois past Boston University 66-62 on Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.

The second-seeded Illini fought back from a 30-13 first-half deficit. Rice made the key play with 2:07 left when his steal and three-point play trimmed it to 61-60. He added two free throws and a driving layup to give Illinois a 64-61 lead.

Dom Morris missed a contested layup on an inbounds play with 11 seconds left that would have tied it for BU, the regular-season champion in the Patriot League. Nnanna Egwu added two free throws to ice it for Illinois (20-14), which advances to play No. 3 seed Clemson in the second round. Malcolm Hill had 10 points for the Illini.

It was the first meeting between Illinois and BU (24-11), which was seeking its first win in the NIT after five losses. D.J. Irving had 17 points for the seventh-seeded Terriers and point guard Maurice Watkins had seven points and 12 assists.

ILLINOIS 66, BOSTON UNIVERSITY 62 | RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY

Originally from Farmington Hills, MI, I have worked at the Big Ten Network since 2012 and took over my role as web editor and blogger in August, 2013. Follow me on twitter for constant Big Ten updates @srmerriman. Thanks and enjoy!!

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