Myke Henry and the Illini will face Nebraska for the first time since 1990 on Saturday.
Jan. 6, 2012
TV: BTN - Eric Collins, (Play-By-Play), Jim Jackson (Analyst)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - Brian Barnhart (Play-By-Play), Jerry Hester (Analyst), Loren Tate (Reports)
Satellite Radio: Sirius - 93, XM - 195
Probable Starters (from the previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 2.2 2.4 1.6 15 off. reb. G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 13.9 3.1 1.9 41.0 3FG% G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 12.2 4.4 3.3 1.6 spg G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 5.5 2.0 0.9 56.1 FG% C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 13.3 8.3 1.4 2.4 bpg
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 0 Sam Maniscalco 6-0 180 Gr. 9.9 2.4 2.9 83.8 FT% F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 1.1 2.4 0.1 8.7 mpg G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 Fr. 3.7 1.4 0.2 46.7 FG% G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 Fr. F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 250 Fr. 0.5 1.2 0.0 4.8 mpg G 25 Jean Selus 6-2 195 Sr. 0.0 0.2 0.2 6 minutes F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 245 Fr. 2.5 1.9 0.3 1.0 bpg F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 6.0 3.9 0.6 26 off. reb. G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 4 minutes
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 309-143/.684 (14th year)
At Illinois: 206-89/.698 (9th year)
Big Ten: 85-54/.612
Associate Head Coach: Wayne McClain (11th year)
Assistant Coaches: Jay Price (9th year), Jerrance Howard (5th year)
Assistant to the Head Coach: Gary Nottingham (9th year)
Director of Basketball Operations: Sean Harrington (4th year)
Series Notes vs. Nebraska
Series Record: Illinois leads 7-2
Last Meeting: Nebraska 100, Illinois 73 (Nov. 24, 1990 // San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Series Streak: Nebraska W-1
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 5-1
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-5
Weber vs. Nebraska: First meeting
Following consecutive road games, the Illini return to Champaign to play back-to-back home games in the span of four days. First up is Nebraska on Saturday - Illinois' lone Saturday home game in Big Ten play this year.
Illinois carries a 12-game winning streak at the Assembly Hall and has won its last four conference home games dating back to last year. Illinois also is attempting to win consecutive Big Ten games in the same season since winning its first three league games last year.
Fighting Illini Player Trends
Meyers Leonard has recorded double-doubles in four of the last seven games. Over that stretch he is averaging a double-double of 13.9 points (97) and 10.1 rebounds (71).
Leonard has totaled five double-doubles on the season, one behind Big Ten co-leaders Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) and Draymond Green (Michigan State).
Leonard has been the Illini's leading rebounder in eight of the last nine games, including each of the last five. He is averaging 10.8 boards (54) over the last five games.
Brandon Paul has scored in double figures in nine of the last 10 games, including each of the last five. Over the last five games, Paul is averaging 16.4 points (82) and 5.4 rebounds (27).
Paul has led the Illini in scoring in three of the last four games.
After making a total of 11 three-pointers over the first 12 games (0.9 avg.), Paul has made nine treys over the last four games (2.3 avg.).
D.J. Richardson had scored in double figures in eight straight games - the longest streak of his career - prior to Northwestern. He just missed extending that streak against the Wildcats, finishing with eight points.
Over the last nine games, Richardson is averaging 15.0 points (135).
Joseph Bertrand is averaging 12.5 points (50) on 65.7 percent shooting (23-35) over the last four games. Bertrand scored a career-high 19 points vs. Missouri (Dec. 22) and followed with 13 points - the second-highest scoring total of his career - against Minnesota (Dec. 27). He had eight points in his first career start at Purdue, then had 10 points at Northwestern.
Bertrand is shooting 56.1 percent from the field on the season and has only missed one free throw (14-15).
Last Time Out
The Illini came out on top in another wild game in Evanston, defeating Northwestern 57-56 on Wednesday night. It marked the third game in the last four years decided by one point between the Illini and Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Illini were victorious thanks to a pair of big plays by underclassmen. Myke Henry grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on a follow-up attempt with six seconds left. Henry made the first free throw to give the UI the lead. After missing the second, NU's Drew Crawford raced up court and shot the potential game-winner, which was swatted away by Meyers Leonard at the buzzer.
The victory completed an impressive comeback by the Illini, who trailed by 10 points with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Illinois then went on a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 42-38 lead. The Illini enjoyed its largest lead of the night at 55-47 with 1:43 remaining when the Wildcats made a late charge, outscoring the visitors 9-1 to tie the game at 56-all and set up the final plays by Henry and Leonard.
Illinois had three players score in double figures, led by Leonard's team-high 12 points. Joseph Bertrand and Brandon Paul added 10 apiece, while Bertrand and Leonard each grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. The Illini also got a huge contribution from freshman Nnanna Egwu, who scored nine points -- all in the first half.
Close Games Going Illinois' Way
Following another victory that went down to the wire Wednesday at Northwestern, Illinois is now 8-1 this season in games decided by less than 10 points. Included in that total, the Orange and Blue are 4-1 in games decided by five points or less.
That is a welcome change from last season when Illinois could not get over the hump in a number of close contests, dropping eight games where the UI led, was tied, or trailed by one point in the final minute.
Five on the Starting Five
1. Leads the team in scoring with an average of 13.9 points.
2. Increased his scoring average by 5.5 points over last year (8.4 ppg), when he was the UI's fifth-leading scorer.
3. Leads the Illini in 3-point shooting at 41 percent (41-100).
4. Average of 2.6 threes per game (41) ranks third in Big Ten.
5. Career-long streak of scoring in double figures in eight straight games was snapped Wednesday at Northwestern (8 points).
1. Leads the Illini and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.3 rpg), while ranking second on the team in scoring (13.3 ppg).
2. Ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 60 percent (81-135).
3. Leads the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.4 bpg (38).
4. Five double-doubles on the season, ranking second among Big Ten players.
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.2 points (2.1 ppg last year), more than any other player in the Big Ten.(Penn State's Tim Frazier ranks second, +10.8 ppg).
1. Scoring average of 12.2 points ranks third on the team, and is averaging a team-best 16.0 points in Big Ten play.
2. Scored in double figures in nine of the last 10 games, averaging 14.8 points over that stretch (148).
3. Leads Illini in assists with 3.3 average.
4. Has made 71 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (118 FTA).
5. Scored season-high 21 points in Big Ten opener vs. Minnesota (Dec. 27).
1. Earned his first career start last Saturday at Purdue.
2. Averaging 5.5 points this year, five times his scoring average from last season (1.1 ppg).
3. Shooting better than 56 percent from the field (37-66) and has only missed one free throw (14-15).
4. Has scored in double figures four times this year after entering season with a career-high of five points.
5. Made 13 consecutive shots over two-game stretch (all nine vs. Missouri-12/22, first four vs. Minnesota-12/27).
1. Back in starting lineup Wednesday at Northwestern after starting first two games of his career.
2. Played a career-high 30 minutes against the Wildcats, and did not commit a turnover.
3. Dished out seven assists over the last two games.
4. Grabbed 11 rebounds over the last three games.
5. First Illini true-freshman point guard to start his first career game since Dee Brown started the opener of the 2002-03 season.
Assembly Hall: The House of 'Paign
Illinois owns an active 12-game winning-streak at the Assembly Hall.
After wrapping up non-conference play at home, the Illini will carry a 15-game winning streak versus non-Big Ten opponents and a 26-game winning streak in the regular season against non-league foes into next season.
Illinois went 14-2 at the Assembly Hall last year, recording the team's best homecourt record in five seasons. The last time the Illini had fewer than two home losses was in 2006, the last of a seven-year run when the Illini either went undefeated or lost just one home game per season.
The Illini have put together one of the best homecourt records in the nation over the last 12-plus seasons, owning a record of 164-25 at The Hall. The Illini also are 113-23 (.831) at The Hall during Bruce Weber's tenure. Below is a look at Illinois' record at the Assembly Hall since the beginning of the 1999-2000 season:
Year Overall Big Ten 2011-12 9-0 1-0 2010-11 14-2 7-2 2009-10 13-5 5-4 2008-09 14-3 7-2 2007-08 7-8 3-6 2006-07 14-3 6-2 2005-06 15-1 7-1 2004-05 15-0 8-0 2003-04 12-1 7-1 2002-03 14-0 7-0 2001-02 13-1 7-1 2000-01 12-0 8-0 1999-00 12-1 7-1 Total 164-25 80-20
Leonard Improving at Historical Level
Meyers Leonard is quickly earning a reputation as one of the top centers in the country. His progression has been rapid when comparing the numbers from his freshman year to this season. Leonard has increased his scoring average by 11.2 points and his rebounding average by 7.1 boards. Those figures rank among the biggest improvements in school history from one season to the next:
Best UI Scoring Improvement (Avg.) 1. Rick Schmidt, 1974 +17.6 ppg (21.4-3.8) 2. Skip Thoren, 1964 +14.8 ppg (20.3-5.5) 3. Meyers Leonard, 2012 +11.2 ppg (13.3-2.1)