Game 16 Notes & Links: Illinois at Wisconsin
Jan. 7, 2014
Series Notes vs. Wisconsin
Back in the Top 25
The Illini basketball program has now appeared in the AP rankings in each of the last six seasons, 18 of the last 21 years, and 47 seasons all-time.
Taking on Another Ranked Opponent
The Illini have lost two straight on the road versus Top-25 teams, with the most recent win coming last season at No. 18 Minnesota, 57-53 (Feb. 10, 2013).
This is the highest-ranked Wisconsin team Illinois has ever faced in Madison. The Illini are 2-7 all-time on the road against ranked UW squads, last claiming victory at the Kohl Center on Feb. 9, 2010 with a 63-56 win over the No. 11 Badgers.
It has been 25 years since Illinois last defeated a Top-5 team on the road, a 70-67 win by the Flyin' Illini at No. 3 Indiana on March 5, 1989 thanks to a Nick Anderson 35 footer at the buzzer.
Illinois is 5-8 against ranked opponents under Groce.
Joseph Bertrand has scored in double figures in each of his last four games against Wisconsin, averaging 13.5 points against the Badgers (54).
The Big Ten's leading scorer with an 18.7-point average (66th in NCAA), Rayvonte Rice has averaged 20.3 points over the last 10 games (203), led by a career-high 29 points against Indiana last Tuesday.
Rice has combined for 72 points over the last three games, scoring 28 vs. UIC, 29 vs. Indiana and 15 vs. Penn State. It is the highest point total by an Illini over three consecutive games since Brandon Paul registered 73 against Ohio State (43), Penn State (20) and Wisconsin (10) from Jan. 10-22, 2012.
The backcourt of Rice, Tracy Abrams and Bertrand have combined for nearly 67 percent of Illinois' scoring the last three games, totaling 155 of the UI's 232 points.
Illinois has topped 70 points in each of the last three games - all wins - improving to 9-0 this season and 23-2 overall under Coach John Groce when reaching the 70-point marker.
Illinois scored 83 in the win over Indiana last Tuesday, its most points in a conference game since an 88-63 home victory over Northwestern on Jan. 6, 2011.
The Illini are allowing an average of just 61.5 points per game this season (third in Big Ten, 20th in NCAA) on 39.5 percent shooting (fifth in Big Ten, 66th in NCAA).
Illinois stands out in a number of defensive categories, ranking 21st nationally in defensive efficiency (94.2), 21st in defensive 2-point percentage (42.2) and 19th in defensive free throw rate (29.8).
In Saturday's win over Penn State, Illinois' defense held the Nittany Lions to a season-low 55 points, nearly 25 points below its average.
Oregon and Indiana are the only teams to reach the 70-point marker against the Illini this season, both scoring 71 in regulation (Indiana added nine in overtime to finish with 80 points).
Illinois has now won 13 in a row at State Farm Center, its longest home winning streak since claiming 14 straight from Feb. 16, 2011-Jan. 10, 2012. The Illini's next home game is on Jan. 15 versus Purdue.
The UI starting five has clearly carried the scoring load, combining for 81.6 percent of Illinois' points on the season (885 of 1084).
Rayvonte Rice has scored in double figures in each of the first 15 games, the longest streak by an Illini since Paul did so in the first 17 games last season.
Rice is the only Big Ten player to score at least 12 points in every game this season.
Rice is shooting 56.7 percent on 2-pointers this season (72-127).
Tracy Abrams has scored in double figures in five straight games for the first time in his career, averaging 16.6 points (83).
Over that five-game stretch, Abrams has averaged 4.4 points alone on free throws, shooting 81.5 percent from the line (22-27).
Abrams tied his season-high with five assists against Penn State while not committing a turnover for the second time this season.
Joseph Bertrand is averaging 12.7 points over the last three games (38). He has scored in double figures in three straight games for the second time this season, and first since the opening three games of the season.
Bertrand is shooting 50 percent from 3-point range this season (10-20) after entering his senior season as a career 31.3 percent shooter from behind the arc (20-64).
Jon Ekey had 11 points vs. Penn State, scoring in double figures for the first time in four games. He snapped a streak of 10 straight misses from 3-point range with his third long-range attempt of the game, and finished 3-of-6 from behind the arc against the Lions.
Nnanna Egwu, the Big Ten's No. 3 shot blocker (51st in NCAA), has recorded at least two blocks in 13 of 15 games this year.
Freshman Kendrick Nunn's playing time has increased lately, averaging 16 minutes over the last five games (80). Nunn has made an impact on the defensive end, combining for 10 steals during the five-game stretch, led by a game-high three steals vs. Indiana and Missouri.
Illinois fought back from a 13 point deficit - its largest of the season - to defeat UIC, 74-60, on Dec. 28 at the United Center. It marked the third game this season, and seventh time in two years under Groce, that Illinois has won after trailing by double digits.
Following the 65-64 victory over Missouri (Dec. 21), Illinois improved to 3-0 this season in games decided by one or two points, and 8-0 overall under Groce.
After holding Oregon 20 points below its season scoring average, the Illini then held Missouri 15 points below its season average.
Last Time Out: Illini 75, Penn State 55 (Jan. 4)
2. Illinois held its opponent to under 30 percent shooting for the first time this season, as Penn State shot a season-low 29.8 percent (17-57). It was the lowest field goal percentage allowed by the Illini since Northwestern shot 25 percent (12-48) on its home court last season in a 62-41 loss to the Illini (Feb. 17, 2013).
3. PSU guards Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill entered the game as the highest scoring backcourt duo in the country at 36.2 points per game, but managed only a combined season low of 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting against the Illini. Frazier had 10 and Newbill a season-low seven.
4. Illinois jumped out to a 9-0 lead and held Penn State scoreless for the opening 6:48 of the contest. Dating back to the Indiana game, the Illini defense held their opponent to one field goal - a 3-pointer by Yogi Ferrell with four seconds left in overtime - over a span of 18:32.
5. The Illini started both the first and second half on a 9-0 run and led wire-to-wire for the fifth time this season.
6. Rayvonte Rice led the Illini in scoring for the 11th time on the season with 15 points.
7. Tracy Abrams stepped up in the second half, scoring all 12 of his points after the break, and also finished with a season-high five assists and six rebounds.
8. Jon Ekey hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points to go along with a game-high eight rebounds.
9. Freshmen Malcolm Hill (8 points) and Jaylon Tate (6 points) were both a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line, while fellow freshman Kendrick Nunn added five points, giving the trio of Illini rookies a combined 19 points off the bench, their third-highest collective output this year.
Looking Back at Last Year's Wisconsin Games:
Wisconsin 74, #12/13 Illinois 51 // Jan. 12 at Madison
Wisconsin 74, Illinois 68 // Feb. 3, 2013 at Champaign
But Wisconsin also found a groove offensively, hitting nearly 56 percent in the second half. The Badgers also went to the foul line with regularity for easy scoring opportunities. Wisconsin had 42 free throw attempts on the afternoon, 31 coming in the second half alone off of 18 second-half UI fouls. The Badgers scored 28 points at the line in its 42 attempts, setting season highs for an Illini opponent in both categories.
Illinois had a season-high five players score in double figures, led by Joseph Bertrand, who scored a season-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds in his first start of the year. Nnanna Egwu had 14 points and seven boards, Brandon Paul finished with 13, and Tracy Abrams and D.J. Richardson added 10 apiece.
Current Illini vs. Wisconsin:
Joseph Bertrand (6 G): 7.7 ppg (54), 3.5 rpg (21)
Tracy Abrams (4 G): 7.5 ppg (30), 2.5 rpg (10)
Nnanna Egwu (4 G): 3.5 ppg (14), 2.0 rpg (8)
Mike LaTulip (2 G): 2 pts, 0 reb
Five on the Starting Five