Illinois Postgame Notes vs. USC
Nov. 20, 2012
Illinois 94, USC 64
1. With tonight's win over USC, Illinois improves to 7-3 all-time in the Maui Invitational. The Illini, who have never lost in the first round in four appearances, advance to face host Chaminade in Tuesday's second semifinal at 9:30 p.m. CT. Illinois is 1-2 all-time in the semifinals, with the lone win coming in 2000 over No. 6 Maryland, 90-80.
2. Illinois improved to 4-0 on the season with tonight's win. It marks the second straight season that the Illini have started a season at least 4-0. Last year's team started 10-0 before falling to UNLV on Dec. 17, 2011. In addition, first-year Illini head coach John Groce becomes the first coach to start his UI career 4-0 since Lou Henson in 1975 (5-0). Lon Kruger, Bill Self and Bruce Weber all started their Illinois careers with 3-1 records in their first four games.
3. The Illini led USC 57-26 at halftime and shot an incredible 69 percent (22-of-32) in the first 20 minutes of action. The 57 first-half points are the most in a half for an Illinois team since scoring 58 against Gonzaga on Nov. 27, 2004. It also marked the first 50-point half for Illinois since scoring an even 50 against Oakland on Dec. 8, 2010.
4. Illinois 94 points scored against the Trojans are the most for an Illini team since scoring 96 against SIU-Edwardsville in the 2009-10 season-opener, Nov. 13, 2009.
5. Illinois made 12 consecutive shots at one point in the game, the last 11 shots of the first half and the first shot of the second half.
6. The Illini broke the game open with a 21-3 run early in the first half that turned a slim 9-8 lead into a 30-11 bulge with 7:59 left until halftime. Illinois would go on to lead by as much as 34 points, 54-20, late in the first half.
7. Illinois made 13-of-29 three-pointers against USC, equaling the 13 treys made in the season-opening win over Colgate. Last season, the Illini's season high out of 32 games was 11 treys.
8. Illinois has 48 made thee-pointers on the year through four games. This is the UI's highest four-game total since the end of the 2005 season, when the Illini totaled 49 threes over four games, with nine versus UW-Milwaukee (regional semifinal), 16 versus Arizona (regional final), and 12 against both Louisville (national semifinal) and North Carolina (national championship).
9. After struggling on the boards against Hawai'i on Friday (-20 rebounding deficit), the Illini turned the tables tonight by out-rebounding the Trojans 42-20, including a 15-5 edge in offensive boards. Four different Illini shared the team rebounding lead, as Nnanna Egwu, Brandon Paul, Tracy Abrams and Sam McLaurin each pulled down six boards against USC.
10. Senior guard Brandon Paul continued his strong start to the season with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-9 from behind the arc. For the season, Paul is averaging 21.3 points per game and shooting 48 percent from three-point range.
11. Sophomore Tracy Abrams tied his career-high with eight assists against the Trojans, also adding 11 points and six rebounds on the night.
12. Senior D.J. Richardson, fresh off his buzzer-beating, game-winning three-pointer at Hawai'i on Friday, had his biggest impact tonight on defense with a career-high four steals to go along with 13 points. Junior Joseph Bertrand added a career-high three steals and had nine points and five rebounds.