Illinois Postgame Notes at Minnesota
Feb. 19, 2014
Illinois Postgame Notes
1. Illinois continued its recent dominance over the Golden Gophers with tonight's victory. The Illini have now won 26 of their last 30 games against Minnesota dating back to the 1999 Big Ten Tournament, including 11 of the 13 at Williams Arena.
2. Illinois fell behind 14-3 early and still trailed by double-figures, 21-11, at the 7:14 mark of the first half before roaring back to win. It marked the fourth time this season that the Fighting Illini prevailed after trailing by double-figures in the game. They also did it at UNLV (trailed by 10, won by two), at home against IPFW (trailed by 11, won by two) and at the United Center against UIC (trailed by 13, won by 14).
3. After trailing 27-24 at the half, the Illini started the second half with an 10-2 scoring run to take a 34-29 lead. The Gophers roared back with an 8-0 run of their own to re-take the lead, 35-34. That's when Illini freshman Kendrick Nunn took over. Nunn hit back-to-back threes at 12:36 and 11:57 to start a 12-0 UI run. By the time Nunn capped the run with an emphatic one-handed slam, the Illini had a 46-35 lead with 7:58 remaining. The Gophers would get no closer than six the rest of the way.
4. Nunn hit a career-high five threes in the game on seven attempts, equaling his career-high with 19 points while playing a career-high 33 minutes. He scored 10 out of Illinois' 14 points during a decisive eight-minute stretch in the second half (15:49-7:45).
5. Junior center Nnanna Egwu had one of the best games of his career with 14 points (5-of-8 FG), 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. It was Egwu's third career double-double and his second this season. He has now pulled down double-digit rebounds in three straight games and is averaging 12.3 boards per game during that span.
6. With his four blocks against the Gophers, Egwu moved into second place on the UI single-season blocked shots list with 62. He jumped past Mike Tisdale (59 in 2010) and Meyers Leonard (60 in 2012) and is now behind only school record holder Derek Holcomb's school record of 86 in 1978-79.
7. Junior point guard Tracy Abrams had a solid game, scoring 13 points, hitting 8-of-8 free throws down the stretch and dishing out a season-high six assists.
8. The Illini defense held the Gophers to 4-of-25 shooting from behind the arc (.160), including 15 consecutive misses at one point, and forced 15 turnovers, 11 of which came in the second half.
9. Led by Nunn's hot shooting, the Illini hit 8-of-13 from behind the arc for the game (.615), by far their best mark of the season (the previous high was .522 at Auburn on Dec. 8) and their highest since hitting 9-of-14 (.643) against Northwestern on Jan. 6, 2011.
10. After shooting just 32.0 percent in the first half (8-of-25), the Illini exploded for 55.0 percent shooting after the intermission (11-of-20), their highest field goal percentage in a half since the first half against Dartmouth on Dec. 10 (57.1 percent, 16-of-28).