Illinois forwards Leron Black, Kipper Nichols sidelined by injuries

Illinois likely will be without its leading scorer and rebounder Wednesday night against Longwood, coach Brad Underwood said Tuesday.

Junior forward Leron Black, who leads the Illini with 13.6 points per game and averages 5.2 rebounds, left Saturday’s loss at UNLV with an elbow injury.

And sophomore forward Kipper Nichols, who leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game and averages 10.1 points off the bench, suffered a foot injury in practice Monday, Underwood said at a news conference in Champaign.

Underwood did not provide a specific timeline for Black’s return but said he does not expect the injury to be long term.

“You’ll see a smaller version of the Illini,” said Underwood, who mentioned that the Illini (7-4, 0-2 Big Ten) have played some of their best stretches with smaller lineups.

Freshman big men Greg Eboigbodin and Matic Vesel could see increased minutes. Eboigbodin is averaging about five minutes, while Vesel has played in only four games.

Illinois has lost four of its last five games, all by single digits. Asked if the team is getting closer to turning a corner, Underwood said: “I ask myself that just about every single day. I feel like some of the (losses) are self-inflicted. Some of them are youth. Some of them are inexperience. Some of them are you’ve got to make free throws. We’ve found a way to lose those games in about every fashion.”

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