Nnanna Egwu sunk his first career three-pointer early in the second half.
Dec. 4, 2012
No. 13/14 Illinois 72, Western Carolina 64
Illinois Postgame Notes
December 4, 2012 // Assembly Hall, Champaign, Ill. // Attendance: 14,191
1. With tonight’s win, Illinois improves to 9-0, marking the second-straight year that the Illini have started a season with at least nine wins. Last year’s team started 10-0 before falling to UNLV on Dec. 17, 2011.
2. John Groce became the first coach to start his UI career 9-0 in over 100 years. The only Illinois coach to get off to a better start was Fletcher Lane, who won his first 12 games at Illinois (1907-08), although 11 of those 12 victories came against club teams.
3. With today’s win, the Illini have now won 20-straight home games against non-conference opponents. Their last loss was March 24, 2010, against Dayton in the NIT. The last regular season non-conference home loss for the Illini was against Clemson on Dec. 2, 2008, a string of 32 straight games.
4. The Illini never trailed in the game, marking the fifth time this season that Illinois has never fallen behind. WCU tied the score twice in the second half, at 40-40 and 54-54, and the Illini scored on the following possession both times. After the Catamounts tied the score the second time at 5:53, Illinois went on a 12-2 run, going ahead 66-56, and closed out the game with an 18-10 advantage in the final five-and-a-half minutes.
5. The Illini led 32-22 at the break, allowing the second-fewest first-half points of the season. Illinois gave up just 21 points in the first half to Chaminade on Nov. 20, the fewest the Illini have allowed in any half this year.
6. All 10 Illini players that got into the game scored at least two points, with every player hitting at least one field goal. It is the first time this season that every player that played has scored. The Illini had more than 10 players score points once this season, when 11 of the 13 Illini who saw action against Chaminade got in the scoring column.
7. Sophomore forward/center Nnanna Egwu sank his first career three-pointer with 16:39 to go in the second half. The three ended a 9-0 Catamount run which had brought WCU within three, 34-31, before the shot put Illinois back up by six. Egwu had attempted just two threes in his career prior to tonight.
8. The Illini outscored the Catamounts 29-4 off turnovers, including 17-0 in the first half, forcing 22 turnovers while losing the ball just 11 times. The 25-point margin set a new season high. The Illini had more points off turnovers just once this season, scoring 31 against USC on Nov. 19.
9. Illinois registered 18 offensive rebounds in the game, one off the season high (19 vs. Colgate), and put up a season-best 22 second-chance points. WCU also tallied 18 offensive rebounds, but the Illini defense held the Catamounts to 14 second-chance points. Illinois also held a 34-14 scoring edge in the paint.