Postgame Notes: Illinois 57, #18 Minnesota 53
Feb. 10, 2013
Illinois 57, #18/18 Minnesota 53
1. Tonight's win was Illinois' second straight over a Top 20 team after beating No. 1 Indiana, 74-72, at the buzzer on Feb. 7. The last time the Illini defeated ranked conference foes in back-to-back games was in 2010, a 78-73 home win over No. 5 Michigan State (Feb. 6) followed by a 63-56 win at No. 11 Wisconsin (Feb. 9). It was Illinois' fourth Top 20 opponent in the last five games.
2. Illinois now has five wins over opponents in the current AP Top 25 (Feb. 4), with victories over No. 1 Indiana, No. 6 Gonzaga, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 14 Butler and No. 18 Minnesota. That total equals Indiana for the most wins over ranked opponents by any team this season.
3. Tonight was Illinois' eighth game against an RPI Top 25 opponent, the most in the nation. Illinois is now 5-3 vs. the RPI Top 25.
4. The win over Minnesota snapped a 10-game road losing streak to ranked Big Ten teams. Prior to tonight, the Illini's last road win in league play was the aforementioned victory in 2010 at No. 11 Wisconsin.
5. Trailing 26-14 with 4:31 remaining, the Illini closed the first half on a 17-4 run to take a 31-30 lead into half time. D.J. Richardson hit three three-pointers during the run, including one as time expired. Tyler Griffey then hit a three to open the second half, extending the Illini run to 20-4. Illinois held the Gophers without a field goal for a span of 7:40 during the run.
6. Illinois overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to beat the Gophers, marking the fourth time this season the Illini have come back to win after trailing by double-figures at any point during the game. The Orange and Blue trailed by 16 at Hawai'i before going on to win 78-77 in OT, by 11 at #10 Gonzaga before eventually winning 85-74, and by 14 against #1 Indiana last Thursday before winning in thrilling fashion at the buzzer, 74-72.
7. After breaking out of his shooting slump against No. 1 Indiana on Thursday (14 points, including two three-pointers and the game-winning layup as time expired), Tyler Griffey had the hot hand once again. Griffey tied his career high with four three-pointers (4-7) and finished with a team-high 16 points.
8. With Griffey leading the Fighting Illini scoring tonight, a different player has now led the team in scoring in each of the last five games - Brandon Paul (15 pts. 1/27 vs. Michigan), Tracy Abrams (16 pts. 1/31 at Michigan State), Joseph Bertrand (17 pts. 2/3 vs. Wisconsin) and D.J. Richardson (23 pts. 2/7 vs. Indiana).
9. Sophomore point guard Tracy Abrams hit the biggest shot of the night, a three-pointer with 18.1 seconds left and the shot clock ticking down that gave the Illini a 57-53 lead. Abrams had just five points on the night, but led the team in assists (6) and rebounds (6) despite not being in the starting lineup for the first time this season.
10. With 10 points against the Gophers, senior guard Brandon Paul moved into 10th on the all-time Illinois scoring list with 1,488 points. He passed Nick Weatherspoon (1,481 points from 1971-73) and Efrem Winters (1,487 from 1983-86) on the Illini career list.
11. With tonight's win, Illinois has matched its win total from last season (17). The Fighting Illini are currently 17-7 overall, while last year's team finished at 17-15.