Illinois Postgame Notes vs. Norfolk State
Dec. 11, 2012
No. 10/10 Illinois 64, Norfolk State 54
1. With tonight's win, Illinois improves to 11-0, marking the seventh-best start in Illini history, and the most wins to start a season since 2005-06, when the Illini opened the year 15-0. The Illini opened the 2011-12 season 10-0, making this the third time that the Illini have started at least 10-0 in back-to-back seasons (1988-89/1989-90; 2004-05/2005-06).
2. John Groce became the first coach to start his UI career 11-0 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. Of the 14 teams who entered the night undefeated, only two are guided by first-year head coaches. Groce has made the best start this season among new head coaches, with LSU staying unbeaten at 6-0 after their tonight, led by new head coach Johnny Jones.
4. With today's win, the Illini have now won 21-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 33 straight games.
5. When the ending buzzer sounded, the Illini became the first team in the nation to 11 wins. Minnesota (10-1), New Mexico (10-0) and Wyoming (10-0) were the only three other teams with 10 wins entering the night. Minnesota had an opening tip of 9 p.m. tonight, and the other two do not play again until later in the week.
6. After trailing 24-19 with just over five minutes remaining in the first, the Illini finished out the first half with a 13-5 run, then extended it to 20-5 after the break to take a 39-29 lead less than two minutes into the second half. The Spartans bounced back with a 10-2 run to close the gap, 41-39, but a Bertrand layup at 14:47 ended the bid for the tie.
7. The Illini totaled 43 rebounds on the night, marking the second-most this season after the Illini's 47 in the season-opener against Colgate. 17 of the rebounds were offensive, leading to 19 second-chance points. Five Illini had at least five boards, as Brandon Paul tied his season high with eight, Joseph Bertrand had a season-best seven, Tyler Griffey tied his season best with six, Sam McLaurin tabbed six and Nnanna Egwu pulled down five boards.
8. With his team-leading 14 points tonight, Paul moved past Bruce Douglas '86 into 24th all-time at Illinois with 1,265 career points.