Postgame Notes: Illinois 51, Minnesota 49
March 14, 2013
Illinois 51, Minnesota 49
1. With today's win, Illinois advances to the quarterfinals where they'll face top-seeded Indiana on Friday, March 15, at 11 a.m. CT. The Illini and third-ranked Hoosiers met just once during the regular season, a memorable last-second 74-72 win for Illinois in Champaign on Feb. 7.
2. Senior guard Brandon Paul hit a 15-foot jumper as time expired to give Illinois the victory. It marked the third buzzer-beating, walk-off win for Illinois this season. The others are a D.J. Richardson three-pointer for a 78-77 win at Hawai'i on Nov. 16 and Tyler Griffey's lay-up to beat No. 1 Indiana, 74-72, in Champaign on Feb. 7.
3. Paul's game-winner also marked the sixth walk-off game-winner in Big Ten Tournament history and the first since Ohio State's Evan Turner beat Michigan with a half court shot in 2010. An Illini also had the first walk-off shot in tourney history, when Cory Bradford beat Indiana with a three-pointer at the buzzer in 2000.
4. Paul carried the Illini on Thursday, pouring in a game-high 25 points on 10-of-16 FG and 4-of-8 3FG. It was the 11th time this season and the 24th time in his career that he's gone for 20+ points. Paul also surpassed 1,600 points for his career, becoming the ninth player in Illinois history to reach that milestone. He finished the game with 1,603 career points.
5. The Illini tied the game at 49-49 on a three-pointer by senior guard D.J. Richardson with 44.0 seconds left. The tying shot came after a 73 second possession that saw the Illini take five shots, including two missed threes by Richardson, and get four offensive rebounds. Illinois then forced a turnover on the defensive end with 14.6 on the clock to set the stage for Paul's heroics in the final seconds.
6. Illinois is now 7-1 in games decided by five points or less this season: at Hawai'i (1), Gardner-Webb (1), vs. Auburn (2), Indiana (2), at Minnesota (4), Penn State (5) and today vs. Minnesota (2). The only close-loss was for the Illini this season was an 80-75 defeat at Michigan State on Jan. 31.
7. The Illini fell behind 7-2 with 16:32 left in the first half, but took control of the game with a 19-2 run that spanned 11:56 to lead 21-9 after a dunk by Nnanna Egwu at the 5:51 mark. During the run, Illinois forced nine Minnesota turnovers and held the Gophers to just 1-8 FG shooting.
8. The Fighting Illini shot just 32.1 percent for the game (18-of-56), their second-worst shooting game this season (at Iowa, 28.6 percent), but stayed in it thanks to tremendous defense that forced 19 Gopher turnovers, the second-highest for an opponent this season (Western Carolina, 22). Illinois converted the 19 Gopher turnovers into 21 points.
9. Today's win was Illinois' sixth against an RPI Top 25 opponent this season, tied for third-most in the nation behind only Indiana (eight) and Duke (seven).
10. Illinois is now 34-11 (.756) all-time at the United Center and is 2-0 at the home of the Chicago Bulls this season (beat Auburn 81-79 on Dec. 29). The Illini won both of their previous Big Ten Tournament titles at the United Center in 2003 and 205.
11. Illinois is now 24-13 (.649) all-time in the Big Ten Tournament, including a 16-5 (.762) mark at the United Center. The Illini's 24 wins are the most by any team in B1G Tourney history.