Chaminade forward Tyree Harrison, left, defends Illinois forward Tyler Griffey. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Nov. 21, 2012
Illinois 84, Chaminade, 61
Illinois Postgame Notes
Nov. 20, 2012 // EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Semifinal #2
Lahaina Civic Center // Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii // Attendance: 2,400
1. With Tuesday's win over Chaminade, Illinois improved to 8-3 in four all-time appearances in the Maui Invitational. The Illini advance to the final for the second time and will face Butler for the championship at 9 pm CT Wednesday night. Butler defeated No. 9 North Carolina 82-71 in Tuesday's other semifinal.
2. Illinois' other appearance in the title game came in 2000, when the No. 8 Illini fell to No. 1 Arizona, 79-76. In the Illini's previous Maui Invitational appearances, they've finished third twice (1987 & 2007) and second once (2000).
3. Illinois improved to 5-0 on the season, marking the second-straight season that the Illini have started a season at least 5-0. 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 5-0 since Lou Henson in 1975 (5-0). In the modern era, only Harry Combes (7-0 in 1947) has gotten off to a better start as Illini head coach.
4. The Illini have not trailed in the first two games of the Maui Invitational, leading wire-to-wire in both the 30-point win over USC and the 23-point win over Chaminade. Illinois has not trailed since before D.J. Richardson's game-winning overtime buzzer-beater topped Hawai'i on Nov. 16.
5. The Orange and Blue started the game with an 8-0 run and then had a 15-2 run late in the half to turn a five-point lead at the 7:22 mark (22-17) into a 37-19 lead just before halftime. The Illini cruised in the second half, leading by as much as 25 and never by less than 11 en route to the 84-61 victory.
6. Illinois made 11-of-28 three-point field goals against the Silverswords, giving the Illini 11 or more made threes in all five games this season and becoming the first Illinois team ever to make 10 or more three-pointers in five consecutive games. Last season, the Illini made 10+ treys only three times with a season-high of 11, a total they've reached in every game this season.
7. After struggling on the boards against Hawai'i on Friday (-20 rebounding margin), the Illini have turned the tables the last two nights by out-rebounding their two Maui opponents 83-52 (+31).
8. As a team, the Fighting Illini are averaging 84.0 points per game through five games, up nearly 19 points from last year's average of 65.6. The Orange and Blue have scored at least 75 points in every game this season, something that happened only six times all season in 2011-12 (32 games).
9. Illinois entered the tournament struggling from the line, hitting just 31-of-52 (.596) from the charity stripe in the first three games this season. They've turned it around in Maui, hitting 30-of-35 from the line (.857) in the two victories to bump up their season percentage to .701.
10. The Illini used a balanced attack to take down the Silverswords, with no player scoring more than 14 points. Junior guard Joseph Bertrand led four Illini in double figures with 14 points and also added a team-high six rebounds. Brandon Paul (13 points), D.J. Richardson (11 points) and Tyler Griffey (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Illini.
11. Senior Wooden Award candidate Brandon Paul has made the most of his time in paradise thus far, averaging a team-high 21.3 points while shooting 53 percent overall and 54 percent from behind the arc (13-of-24) during the Illini's three wins in Hawai'i (including Friday's game at UH). In the Maui Invitational, Paul is averaging a team-high 19.5 points per game and has hit 13-of-24 field goals and 8-of-14 from downtown.
12. After hitting the game-winning three at the buzzer against Hawai'i on Friday, senior D.J. Richardson's biggest impact on Maui has been on the defensive end. He has a team-high six steals in the two Illini wins, including a career-high four thefts against USC. Richardson also is averaging 12.0 points and has hit five threes in the Maui Invitational.