Shaun Pruitt and the Illini take on Penn State Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.
Jan. 5, 2008
Champaign, Ill. -
FIGHTING ILLINI BASKETBALL
Game #15: Illinois (8-6, 0-1) vs. Penn State (9-4, 1-0)
Jan. 6, 2008 1 p.m. CT BTN
Champaign, Ill. Assembly Hall (16,618)
On the Air
BTN: Wayne Larrivee, play-by-play; Shon Morris, expert analyst.
Illini Sports Network - 45 stations: Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Jerry Hester, expert analyst; Loren Tate, pregame/halftime/postgame interviews.
Illini Probable Starters
F - 42 Brian Randle (r-Sr, 6-8, 220, 10.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C - 55 Shaun Pruitt (Sr., 6-10, 245, 12.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.1 apg)
G - 25 Calvin Brock (r-Jr., 6-5, 195, 7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg)
G - 1 Trent Meacham (r-Jr., 6-2, 195, 10.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G - 3 Chester Frazier (Jr., 6-2, 190, 5.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.0 apg)
Off the Bench
G - 2 Chris Hicks (Sr., 6-2, 190, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
G - 13 Jeff Jordan (Fr., 6-1, 185, 0.7 ppg, 0.4 rpg)
G - 22 Steve Holdren (r-Jr., 6-5, 200, 1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg)
F - 23 Rodney Alexander (Jr., 6-7, 225, 5.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
F - 24 Mike Davis (Fr., 6-9, 195, 2.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
F - 30 Bill Cole (Fr., 6-9, 210, 2.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
F - 32 Demetri McCamey (Fr., 6-3, 205, 5.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.1 apg)
C - 33 Brian Carlwell (So., 6-11, 265, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
F - 50 Richard Semrau (r-Fr., 6-9, 235, 0.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg)
C - 54 Mike Tisdale (Fr., 7-1, 215, 4.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Overall Record: 223-88/.717 (10th year)
At Illinois: 120-34/.779 (5th year)
Big Ten: 48-17/.738
Vs. Penn State: 6-1
Assistant Coaches: Wayne McClain (7th year), Jay Price (5th year), Jerrance Howard (1st year)
Assistant to the Head Coach: Gary Nottingham (5th year)
Trainer: Al Martindale (25th year at Illinois)
Penn State Head Coach: Ed DeChellis
Overall Record: 156-173/.474 (12th year)
At Penn State: 51-80/.389 (5th year)
Vs. Illinois: 1-6
Series Notes: Penn State
Illinois leads the all-time series 20-7 over Penn State, including a 9-3 advantage in games played at the Assembly Hall. The Illini have won eight of the last nine games in the series, including the last two. Penn State, however, won the last meeting in Champaign, 66-65 on Feb. 4, 2006, snapping the Illini's school-record 33-game winning streak at the Assembly Hall.
The teams will meet again at State College, Pa. on Feb. 16.
Illini Honor 1998 Big Ten Champs
Attending Sunday's game vs. Penn State are members of the 1998 Big Ten Championship Fighting Illini squad. Under the direction of former coach Lon Kruger, the 1997-98 Illini went 23-10 overall and 13-3 in league play to tie Michigan State for the Big Ten title, marking the UI's first conference championship in 14 years. Former players expected to attend the reunion include team co-MVPs Jerry Hester and Kevin Turner along with Jarrod Gee, Sergio McClain, Victor Chukwudebe, Jelani Boline and Rich Beyers.
Illini Notes ...
Illinois plays the last of four consecutive home games Sunday vs. Penn State. The Illini then hit the road to play four of its next five games away from the Assembly Hall.
Illinois enters Sunday's game having lost its last two games. Losing streaks have been extremely rare during Weber's five-year tenure. Under Weber, the Illini have lost consecutive games just four times, and have only lost three straight once, last season vs. Xavier (Dec. 29) at Michigan (Jan. 3) and vs. Ohio State (Jan. 6).
Ohio State on Thursday became the first team in six games and just the fourth opponent this season to reach the 70-point marker against the Illini.
Illinois has not allowed an opponent to score 80 or more points in 40 consecutive games. The last team to do so was Arizona on Dec. 2, 2006 (84 points).
Illinois has only had one opponent this season shoot better than 46 percent from the field (Duke on Nov. 20).
Illinois has outrebounded its opponent in 11 of 14 games and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rebound margin at +6.6 rpg.
Illinois held Loyola (MD) to 20 percent shooting (13-65) on Dec. 28, the lowest field goal percentage in the 44-year history of Assembly Hall.
Illinois' defense held Western Carolina to 35 points on Dec. 17, the third-lowest point total in Assembly Hall history and just one point off the record-low score of 34 set by Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1985 and tied by Savannah State last season.
Illinois defeated Missouri Dec. 22 in the 27th annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis. It marked the Illini's eighth straight win in the series, tying the school record for consecutive Braggin' Rights wins. Illinois also won eight straight over Mizzou from 1983-90.
Shaun Pruitt was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 24 after averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over three games vs. Western Carolina, Miami (OH) and Missouri. He is the first Illini player to earn Player of the Week honors since James Augustine on Dec. 5, 2005.
Illinois played seven road/neutral games during non-conference play, tied for the second-highest total of road/neutral games among BCS schools.
Seven different players have been the Illini's leading scorer in a game this season. However, either Shaun Pruitt or Brian Randle has been the Illini's leading scorer in four of the last five games, as well as five of the last seven games.
Illinois has led during the second half in four of its six losses.
Shaun Pruitt has scored at least nine points in all but two games this season.
Pruitt scored in double figures for five consecutive games before the streak was snapped vs. Tennessee State (Dec. 30) when he finished with seven points. During the streak, Pruitt totaled 24 points vs. Arizona and Miami (OH), 16 vs. Loyola (MD), 14 vs. Missouri and 11 vs. Western Carolina. Over that five-game stretch, he averaged 17.8 points and 10.2 rebounds. Pruitt returned to double figures Thursday vs. Ohio State, finishing with 12 points.
Brian Randle averaged 12.4 points over a five-game stretch prior to Dec. 30. He left the Tennessee State game late in the first half after suffering a mild concussion. Randle returned to action Thursday vs. Ohio State and scored a team-high 14 points in a career-high 37 minutes.
Pruitt and Randle combined for 38 points vs. Miami on Dec. 20, the duo's highest scoring total this season.
Chester Frazier is averaging 4.8 assists over the last nine games (43) after averaging just 2.6 assists over the first five games (13). He tied his season high with six assists vs. Tennessee State on Dec. 30.
Shaun Pruitt leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds with an average of 3.8 per game (53 total off. reb.). He ranks third in the league in total rebounds (8.3 avg).
Pruitt has started every game over the past two-and-a-half seasons, entering the Penn State game with an active streak of 82 consecutive starts.
There have been 52 consecutive sellout crowds at the Assembly Hall entering Sunday's game vs. Penn State. The streak began on Dec. 6, 2004.
Last Time Out: Ohio State
Illinois fell to Ohio State Thursday night at the Assembly Hall in the Big Ten opener by the score of 74-58. Illinois led 30-29 at the half and was up one with 15 minutes left before the Buckeyes went on a game-changing 15-2 run over the next five minutes. The Illini got to within six points, 58-52 with five minutes remaining but OSU pulled away down the stretch.
Brian Randle, who was considered doubtful after suffering a mild concussion in the previous game vs. Tennessee State, led the Illini with 14 points on 6-11 shooting in a career-high 37 minutes. Shaun Pruitt also reached double figures with 12 and led Illinois with eight rebounds.
Lock Down "D"
Illinois has been one of the nation's top defensive teams each year under Bruce Weber. This year's squad looks to continue that style of aggressive man-to-man defensive pressure throughout each game. Illinois ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring defense with opponents averaging 60.9 points per game on the season. The Illini are third in the league in field goal percentage defense (.386) and second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.301).
No team has reached 80 points on the Illini this season, with just four opponents topping the 70-point marker. Illinois's defense has also allowed only one team (Duke) to shoot over 46 percent from the field.
Dominating the Glass
Illinois has outrebounded 11 of 14 opponents this year and owns a rebounding margin of +6.6 on the season. Illinois ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding margin and is fifth in the conference in total rebounds, averaging 39.6 rpg.
Illinois' bench is contributing 22.1 points per game (310 total) and has had seven double-figure scoring games by players off the bench this season:
Pruitt a Force Inside
Illinois has one of the top post players in the Big Ten in senior and three-year starting center Shaun Pruitt. A preseason All-Big Ten selection, Pruitt leads the Illini in scoring and rebounding, averaging 12.9 points (17th in Big Ten) and 8.3 rebounds (3rd in Big Ten). He has scored at least nine points in all but two games this season, with a career-high 24 points vs. both Arizona and Miami (OH), 16 vs. Loyola (MD), 15 at Hawaii, 14 vs. Missouri, 12 vs. Northeastern and Ohio State, 11 vs. both Duke and Western Carolina, 10 at Maryland, and nine each vs. Arizona State and Oklahoma State.
Pruitt made 10-of-11 from the field against Arizona on Dec. 8, which tied the sixth-best shooting performance in school history and is the top percentage by a Big Ten player this season.
Pruitt scored in double figures for five consecutive games before the streak came to an end vs. Tennessee State last Sunday (7 points). During that stretch, he had 24 points vs. Arizona, 11 vs. Western Carolina, 24 again vs. Miami, 14 vs. Missouri and 16 vs. Loyola. It marked the first time he reached double figures in five straight games since his streak of six straight games last season (1/20/07 through 2/7/07).
Over that five game-stretch, Pruitt averaged 17.8 points and 10.2 rebounds. Pruitt returned to double figures vs. Ohio State on Thursday with 12 points.
Pruitt has 12 career double-doubles including three this season: 12 pts-17 reb vs. Northeastern, 24 pts-15 reb vs. Miami and 16 pts-11 reb vs. Loyola. His career-high 17 rebounds vs. Northeastern marked the highest rebounding total by an Illini player in eight seasons, since Sergio McClain had 18 rebounds at Michigan on Jan. 16, 2000.
In addition to ranking third in the Big Ten in rebounding, Pruitt leads the league in offensive rebounds with an average of 3.8 per game (53 total).
One of the most Illini's most durable players in recent years, Pruitt has started every game over the last two-and-a-half seasons and enters the Penn State game with an active streak of 82 consecutive starts.
Randle More Aggressive on Offense
Senior and three-year starter Brian Randle currently carries a career-high scoring average of 10.7 points., ranking second on the team. He reached double figures in each of the first four games this season, a career-best streak, before it came to an end vs. Oklahoma State when he left due to injury just seven minutes into the game. Randle had 14 points in the opener vs. Northeastern, 12 points at Hawaii, a career-high 17 points vs. Arizona State and 16 points vs. Duke.
Randle returned to double figures for the first time in four games vs. Arizona, scoring 11 points. He also had a season-high five assists vs. the Wildcats. He just missed double figures vs. Western Carolina, finishing with nine points.
Randle scored 14 points vs. Miami (OH) on 6-10 shooting. He had 11 points in the win over Missouri and then tied his career high with 17 points against Loyola (MD), hitting 7-of-10 shots.
He was off to another strong start vs. Tennessee State last Sunday, with six points and six boards before suffering a mild concussion just before halftime.
Considered doubtful for Thursday's game vs. Ohio State, Randle returned to the lineup and led the Illini in scoring with 14 points while playing a career-high 37 minutes.
Randle ranks second on the team in field goal percentage on the season, shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He also is the team's third-leading rebounder with an average of 5.1 rebounds on the season.
Meacham Settles in at Shooting Guard
Junior Trent Meacham shared time at point guard and shooting guard last season, but with the addition of freshman Demetri McCamey to share point guard responsibilities with junior Chester Frazier, Coach Weber has Meacham focusing solely on the shooting guard position this season. The move has helped Meacham settle in and define his role on this year's squad.
Meacham is third on the Illini in scoring with an average of 10.6 points. He is shooting over 37 percent from 3-point range on the season and is ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 2.2 treys per game (28 total).
He has had some big games, topping 20 points twice and reaching double figures five times on the year. Meacham scored a career-high 26 points vs. Weber State on Dec. 1 and had 24 vs. Tennessee State last Sunday. He also scored 17 vs. Oklahoma State (Nov. 21), 16 vs. Arizona (Dec. 8) and 13 vs. Missouri (Dec. 22).
Frazier Does It All
Point guard Chester Frazier has earned a reputation for his relentless play and ability to impact the game in all areas. Leading the team in playing time at 33.9 minutes per contest (fifth in Big Ten), Frazier is averaging 5.1 points. He leads the Illini and ranks seventh in the conference in assists (4.0 apg) and is second on the team in steals (0.8 spg).
Despite standing 6-2, Frazier also is second on the team in rebounding behind Pruitt with an average of 5.3 rpg. He currently ranks 15th in the Big Ten in rebounding and is the only point guard listed among the league's top 20 rebounders.
Frazier has twice grabbed a season-high nine rebounds, at Hawaii and vs. Duke, He also tallied eight boards vs. Oklahoma State, and seven at Maryland. He has been the UI's leading rebounder in four games this season.
*For complete set of Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at top of this page.