Illinois Postgame Notes at Gonzaga
Dec. 9, 2012
No. 13/14 Illinois 85, No. 10/10 Gonzaga 74
1. Tonight's marked the first road win over a ranked team for Illinois since a 63-56 win at No. 11 Wisconsin on Feb. 9, 2010, snapping a nine-game skid against ranked teams in true road games. The last Illinois road win over a top-10 team was at No. 9 Purdue, 71-67 in OT, on Dec. 30, 2008, while the last non-conference road win over a top-10 team came on March 1, 1986 at No. 4 Georgia Tech, 59-57. Entering tonight, the Illini had lost four straight road games against top-10, non-conference foes.
2. Illinois has now won seven straight non-conference road games since a 69-61 loss at Maryland on Nov. 28, 2007.
3. Illinois handed the Bulldogs just their eighth loss at "The Kennel" in nine seasons. Gonzaga is now 110-8 at the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004-05.
4. Illinois improved to 10-0 on the season, marking the second-straight year that the Illini have started a season with 10 consecutive wins. Last year's team started 10-0 before falling to UNLV on Dec. 17, 2011. The 10-0 start is tied for the ninth best start in school history with last year's team and the 1968-69 squad.
5. John Groce became the first coach to start his UI career 10-0 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.
6. The Illini trailed 8-0 right off the bat and by as many as 11 in the first half (31-20 at the 8:16 mark) before storming back to take tie the game at 41 at halftime. Illinois held Gonzaga without a field goal for the final 7:41 of the first half. After Kelly Olynyk's layup with 7:42 left before the break, the Bulldogs only points of the half the rest of the way came on free throws.
7. Senior guard Brandon Paul had a monster game for the Illini, pouring in a season-high 35 points on 10-16 field goals, 5-9 from three-point range and 10-11 from the line. It marked Paul's second career 30+ point game and was the second highest scoring total of his career, behind only his 43-point effort against No. 5 Ohio State on Jan. 10, 2012. He also added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
8. Illinois entered the game leading the nation in three-pointers made (97) and three's made per game (10.8), and lived up to that ranking against the Bulldogs. The Illini hit 11-of-26 from behind the arc (.423). The Orange and Blue have now made 10 or more threes in all but two games this season.
9. The game marked the end of a four-game series against Gonzaga over the last four years. Illinois won the series 3-1, with wins in each the last three seasons - 73-61 in Seattle on 12/4/10, 75-68 in Champaign on 12/3/11 and 85-74 tonight. The Bulldogs won the first meeting 85-83 in overtime at the United Center in Chicago on 1/2/10.
10. Following the win, the Illini are just one of 14 undefeated teams left in Division I and are tied for the NCAA lead in wins as one of just four teams with 10 victories through Dec. 8. The Illini are tied with Minnesota (10-1), New Mexico (10-0) and Wyoming (10-0) for the NCAA wins lead.