Brandon Paul led the Illini with 17 points and nine rebounds against Eastern Kentucky.
Dec. 16, 2012
No. 10/10 Illinois 66, Eastern Kentucky 53
Illinois Postgame Notes
December 16, 2012 // Assembly Hall, Champaign, Ill. // Attendance: 15,029
1. With tonight’s win, Illinois improves to 12-0, marking the sixth-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 12-0 in over 100 years. Groce ties Fletcher Lane, who won his first 12 games at Illinois (1907-08), although 11 of those 12 victories came against club teams.
3. Thirteen teams entered the weekend undefeated, but Illinois is now one of just eight teams to remain without a loss, becoming the first team in the nation to 12 wins. Additionally, Groce made the best start of any new head coach, sitting as the only new Division I head coach to remain undefeated in 2012-13.
4. With today’s win, the Illini have now won 22-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 34 straight games.
5. Eastern Kentucky entered the game ranked 13th in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 49.5 percent on the season. However, the Illini defense limited the Colonels to their lowest shooting percentage of the season, eclipsing the 39.1% mark against Towson by holding them to just 36.2 percent (21-58) on the night.
6. After the Illini opened the game with a 17-6 lead, the Colonels followed with a 9-0 run, to come within two, 17-15, but a Bertrand jumper kept the Illini on top. The Colonels hit their final basket of the first half at 4:12, making it 22-20 Illini. The Illinois defense then held EKU scoreless for close to seven minutes, and used a 14-2 run to take a 36-22 lead five minutes into the second half.
7. Despite leading the nation in both total made three-pointers and three-point field goals per game entering the night, the Illini have struggled from beyond the arc over the past two games. In their first 10 games, Illinois was 108-for-265 from three-point land, good for 40.8 percent. Illinois was 6-of-23 both tonight and against Norfolk State, to go just 26.1 percent from three this week. Nevertheless, the Illini’s difficulties beyond the arc have not affected their result, successfully winning both games.
8. While the Illini’s three-point shooting was down tonight, their overall field goal percentage was among their highest of the season, finishing the night 25-of-50 for their third game of the year shooting at least 50.0 percent from the field. Illinois also shot 50.0 percent at Gonzaga, and hit a season-best 33-of-62 for 53.2 percent against USC at the Maui Invitational. Illinois was 19-for-27 on two-point shots, for an impressive 70.4 percent from inside the arc.
9. The Illini dominated on the glass, out-rebounding Eastern Kentucky, 42-23, including 32-15 in defensive rebounds. Brandon Paul led the charge with nine rebounds, tying for the most this season and coming one shy of his career high, and Joseph Bertrand tabbed seven boards for the second-straight game.
10. For the sixth time this season, the Illini did not trail during the entire game. Additionally, after opening with a 3-0 lead, Illinois did not allow Eastern Kentucky to tie the score, marking the third time this season that Illinois has scored first and never relinquished the lead.
11. The Illini topped their season-high with nine blocks on the night. Sophomore Nnanna Egwu blocked four shots in the game, tying his career high and the team season high.
12. Senior D.J. Richardson eclipsed his career high, leading the team with seven assists on the night. As a team, the Illini were one off their season high, put up 16 total assists on their 25 made field goals.