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Eyeing IU

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What to watch for: IU vs. Illinois

Indiana is coming off back-to-back losses as the Hoosiers (12-7, 2-4 Big Ten) play host to Illinois (13-7, 2-5) at 3 p.m. today.

Here are a few things to keep an eye in today's game:

No overlooking the Illini: IU coach Tom Crean said Illinois is still a challenging team, even thought the Illini have lost five straight games after beginning conference play 2-0.

"I think they are just a product of this league," Crean said. "You have to make shots in this league, and they are hard to get. There are a lot of different ways to play and there are a lot of different styles inside of a game, no matter what your style of play is, it is always going to be different because of the other team and it is going to change throughout the game.

"But I think they are a veteran group. I think they are going to come in with a ton of excitement and energy. I think we are going to get their very best and I hope they get our very best."

Can IU slow down Illinois' Rayvonte Rice? The Illini guard had 29 points in the Hoosiers' 83-80 overtime loss at Illinois on Dec. 31. Rice needed 20 shot to get to his point total against the Hoosiers, and he was able to get to the free-throw line, sinking 11 of 15.

"Pure and simple he got to the basket," Crean said of Rice in the first meeting. "He creates angles and he is very strong and creates contact. He got to the free-throw line as well as the basket and made some shots. He is a great competitor and you can see that. He has uncanny ability to use his body and get around people. Some of that is strength, some of that is speed but some of it is an inner sense in his game to create different moves."

Can Will Sheehey play for IU tonight? The Hoosiers senior forward couldn't play in Tuesday's loss at No. 3 Michigan State after injuring his ankle against Northwestern last Saturday. Crean said he is hopeful Sheehey can play today.

"He did a little bit (Thursday) in practice," Crean said. "I'm not able to say if he is ahead of schedule or behind it, but I think having him out there was a real good thing. He just didn't do very much, but he did some non-contact stuff and things of that nature so we will see how it goes over the next few days. I think after (Thursday) that we would be hopeful."

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