Men's Basketball
Game 20 Notes: Illinois at Nebraska

The Illini split two meetings with Nebraska last season.
The Illini split two meetings with Nebraska last season.

Jan. 21, 2013

 Game 20: Illinois (14-5, 1-4) at Nebraska (10-9, 1-5)
 When Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 | 7:30 p.m. CT
 Location Lincoln, Neb. | Devaney Center (13,595)
 Tickets Buy Online or call 1-800-8-BIGRED
 Television BTN |
    Announcers: Kevin Kugler (Play-By-Play), Eddie Johnson (Analyst)
 Radio Illini Sports Network | Listen | Sirius 123 / XM 190
 Live Coverage Live Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Nebraska | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Nebraska | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Groce Teleconference
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  #Illini   | Facebook | YouTube

 Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 So. 11.9 3.9 3.2 Has upped scoring by 7.6 ppg over 2011-12
G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Sr. 10.8 4.5 1.7 Two 3FGM from 3rd on UI career list
G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Sr. 18.2 4.9 3.0 No. 2 scorer in the Big Ten
F 0 Sam McLaurin 6-8 220 Gr. 3.7 3.5 0.5 Leads team & 9th in B1G in Off. Rebs
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 235 So. 6.2 4.3 0.6 3rd in B1G in blocks during conf. games
 Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 195 r-Jr. 8.8 4.5 0.7 Leads team in FG percentage (.525)
G 10 Mike LaTulip 6-0 165 Fr. 1.7 0.2 0.0 Walk-on has 19 pts in 27 mins
F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 215 So. 0.8 0.6 0.2 Played season-high 19 mins at Wisconsin
G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 So. 3.3 2.2 0.2 Has 19 offensive rebounds on season
G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 r-Fr. 0.6 0.9 0.2 4-8 field goals this season
F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 245 So. 0.0 0.1 0.0 13 minutes played this season
G 31 Kevin Berardini 6-0 165 r-Jr. 0.8 0.0 0.3 5 points in 7 minutes played
F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-9 220 Sr. 7.7 3.3 0.7 Hit game-winning 3 vs. Gardner Webb

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 99-61/.619 (5th year)
At Illinois: 14-5/.737 (1st year)
Big Ten: 1-4/.200
Assistant Coaches: Dustin Ford (1st year), Paris Parham (1st year), Jamall Walker (1st year)
Special Assistant to the Head Coach: Brandon Miller (1st year)
Director of Basketball Operations:Mark Morris (1st year)
Video Coordinator: Andy Etheridge (1st year)

Series Notes vs. Nebraska
Series Record: Illinois leads 8-3
Series Streak: Nebraska W-1
Record at Lincoln: Illinois leads 2-1
Series Streak at Lincoln: Nebraska W-1
Last Year's Meetings:
   Illinois 59, Nebraska 54 (Jan. 7, 2012 at Champaign)
   Nebraska 80, Illinois 57 (Feb. 18, 2012 at Lincoln)
Groce vs. Nebraska: First Meeting

For Openers:
John Groce is one win away from notching his 100th career victory as a head coach.
• Illinois returns to the court Tuesday after playing just once over a nine-day span.
• Illinois heads to Nebraska looking to snap a three-game skid. The Illini have had a losing streak exceed three games just once in the last four seasons.
• Following the trip to Nebraska, four of Illinois' next five games are against top-15 ranked opponents.
Brandon Paul is just 13 points away from moving into 15th place on the Illinois career scoring list.
• Paul recorded his eighth 20-point game of the season last Thursday versus Northwestern. He ranks second in the Big Ten in 20-point performances this year behind Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas (10).

Illini Trends
• After Brandon Paul's career-long stretch of 17 games scoring in double figures came to an end at Wisconsin, he began a new streak Thursday against Northwestern with a game-high 21 points.
• Paul has led the Illini in scoring in all but four games this season.
Tracy Abrams is averaging 14.2 points (85) and 4.8 rebounds (29) and is shooting 48.2 percent (27-56) over the last six games.
D.J. Richardson is averaging 11.5 points over the last four games (46) after averaging 6.8 points over the previous four games (27).
• Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 19 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 25 straight games with at least one trey.
• Illinois has scored more than 70 points in 12 games after doing so just 10 times in 32 games last year. The Illini are 11-1 when reaching the 70-point marker, with the only loss to Missouri.
• The Illini are 9-0 when shooting 45 percent or better, and 11-0 when shooting better than their opponent.
• Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 16 of 19 games and owns a margin of +6.8 points per game in that category on the season.
• Illinois averages 77.0 points on 45.8 percent shooting and 37.4 percent 3-point shooting in its 14 wins compared to averaging 61.2 points on 35.6 percent shooting and 22.4 percent 3-point shooting in its five losses.
• Illinois is shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from 3-point range in its nine games away from home, an increase over the UI's 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range in its 10 games at Assembly Hall.

Last Time Out: Northwestern Wins in Champaign - Jan. 17
Northwestern earned a 68-54 victory at the Assembly Hall on Thursday. The Illini had to battle back from another slow start, falling behind 10-3 out of the gate. The Wildcats led by as many as 17 in the first half and controlled the tempo throughout the game, keeping the hosts from making a game-changing run. Illinois got within nine on two occasions late, but the Wildcats answered each time to push the lead back to double figures before icing the game with 12-of-12 shooting at the line over the final 75 seconds.

Brandon Paul once again led the Illini with a game-high 21 points, while Tracy Abrams added 10 points and four assists and Tyler Griffey had six points and a game-high six rebounds in his first game this season coming off the bench.

Paul Scores 20+ Again
Brandon Paul scored a game-high 21 points vs. Northwestern on Thursday. It was his 21st career game reaching the 20-point marker, including his eighth this season.

Another Sellout Awaits
Illinois' next home game versus Michigan on Sunday will be played in front another sellout crowd, the fourth straight at the Assembly Hall. That will be the longest streak of consecutive sellouts for the Illini since the final six home games of the 2009-10 season were played in front of capacity crowds (16,618).

Two of the sellouts came over semester break (Ohio State-Jan. 5 and Minnesota-Jan. 9), the first time Illinois has had multiple sellouts during break since the 2007-08 season.

"Illini Tie Together" Planned for Sunday
The Illinois basketball program is partnering with the American Cancer Society and UI Rebounders booster club for "Illini Tie Together" during the annual Suits and Sneakers weekend. This collaborative effort will support Coaches vs. Cancer when Illinois hosts Michigan on Sunday at 5 p.m.

A special tie has been designed for this game; one for every player and Head Coach John Groce. A silent auction for those ties will be held from pregame through halftime in Rooms 133-134 of the Assembly Hall. The player ties will have their number embroidered on the back, and Coach Groce's tie will be autographed. Proceeds from that auction will benefit Coaches vs. Cancer.

In addition, "Illini Tie Together" orange T-shirts are on sale now at Gameday Spirit Champaign locations (519 E. Greet St. or 2028 N. Prospect Ave.) and online at Those shirts also will be on sale at Assembly Hall merchandise stands at the game. A portion of proceeds from sales will go to Coaches vs. Cancer.

Fans are encouraged to wear either the commemorative "Illini Tie Together" T-shirt or a tie to Sunday's game to show their support in the fight against cancer. Members of the Orange Krush student support group will be wearing ties courtside on that day.

Paul on Midseason Wooden Award List
Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The list is made up of 25 student-athletes who, based on their performances in November, December, and the beginning of January, are the frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.

Paul is having an All-America caliber season so far, averaging 18.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He has received national accolades twice this year, first on Nov. 25 after leading Illinois to the Maui Invitational title and earning tournament MVP honors, and then again on Dec. 10 after scoring a season-high 35 points in an 85-74 road win at No. 10 Gonzaga.

The Last Meeting
February 18, 2012
Lincoln, Neb.
Illinois Drops Contest to Nebraska, 80-57
Bo Spencer scored 27 points and Nebraska used a 36-4 run to roll over Illinois 80-57 Saturday.

Looking Back at Last Year's Nebraska Games:

• Nebraska 80, Illinois 57 // Feb. 18 at Lincoln
Illinois' first visit to Lincoln in 37 years was not a memorable one as Nebraska rolled past the Orange and Blue. The Illini looked strong early, jumping out to a quick 16-7 lead and maintaining a 24-16 advantage with eight minutes left in the first half. The Huskers then went on a tear, reeling off 14 unanswered points that swelled into a 36-4 run and gave the Huskers a 52-28 lead from which they did not look back.

The Illini had trouble once again from 3-point range, making just 6-of-23. The Huskers, meanwhile, made 10-of-20 treys and shot nearly 56 percent overall. D.J. Richardson led the Illini with 15 points while Tracy Abrams scored in double figures for the second straight game, totaling 11.

• Illinois 59, Nebraska 54 // Jan. 7 at Champaign
A game went down to the wire for the third straight time at Assembly Hall, and once again the Illini prevailed, posting a five-point victory over Nebraska. Following a sloppy first half that saw the teams combine for 20 turnovers and a 25-22 score in favor of the Huskers, the offense heated up in the second half and the Illini did a better job taking care of the basketball. Illinois had just two turnovers after intermission and shot nearly 58 percent from the field. Nebraska, meanwhile, shot almost 53 percent in the second half but had eight more miscues to record 20 turnovers.

The Illini trailed 48-45 with five minutes left but scored five straight points on a 3-point play by Joseph Bertrand and a jumper by Brandon Paul to take the lead. Nebraska would later tie the game on two occasions, but Bertrand put the Illini ahead for good, hitting another bucket with 54 seconds remaining to break a 54-all tie. The Illini added a trio of free throws in the final seconds to close it out.

Bertrand was unstoppable on the day, scoring a career-high 25 points. He made his first eight shots and finished 11-of-12 from the field. Paul also registered double figures with 11.

Current Illini vs. Nebraska
Joseph Bertrand (2 G): 13.5 ppg (27), 2.5 rpg (5) - Highlights: Career-high five assists last year at Lincoln ... Career-high 25 points last year at Champaign.
Tracy Abrams (2 G): 9.5 ppg (19), 1.5 rpg (3) - Highlights: 11 points last year at Lincoln ... Eight points last year at Champaign.
D.J. Richardson (2 G): 8.5 ppg (17), 2.5 rpg (5) - Highlights: 15 points and five rebounds last year at Lincoln.
Brandon Paul (2 G): 6.5 ppg (13), 4.0 rpg (8) - Highlights: 11 points and six rebounds last year at Champaign.
Myke Henry (2 G): 6.5 ppg (13), 0.0 rpg (0) - Highlights: Eight points last year at Lincoln ... Five points last year at Champaign.
Tyler Griffey (4 G): 6 pts, 4 reb
Nnanna Egwu (2 G): 1 pts, 7 reb
Mike Shaw (2 G): 1 pts, 2 reb
Ibby Djimde (2 G): 0 pts, 2 reb
Kevin Berardini (1 G): 0 pts, 0 reb

Five Key Facts On...

Brandon Paul
1. Leads the Illini in points and rebounds and is five shy of the team lead in assists - challenging to become the first Illini player ever to lead the team in all three categories (by average) in a single season.
2. Big Ten's No. 2 leading scorer with an average of 18.2 points.
3. Has scored at least 13 points in all but one game this season, with eight 20-plus point performances.
4. Second among Big Ten players in free throw makes (89), and attempts (124), behind Indiana's Cody Zeller.
5. Fourth among Big Ten players in 3-point field goals with an average of 2.4 makes per game.

Tracy Abrams
1. Second on the team in scoring with an average of 11.9 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 7.6 points (4.3 last year).
3. Scored in double figures in five of the last six games, led by career-high 27 points vs. Auburn (Dec. 29).
4. Leads the team in assists (3.2 apg).
5. Has exceeded his point total from all of last season, scoring 91 more points this year in 156 less minutes.

D.J. Richardson
1. Third Illini scoring in double figures with an average of 10.8 points.
2. Eighth in the Big Ten in steals (1.6 spg).
3. Carries a career-long active streak of 25 straight games making at least one 3-pointer.
4. Currently ranks fifth in school history in career 3-point field goals with 235, and is just two threes away from moving into third place.
5. Has started 115 career games, seventh on the UI's all-time starts list.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Illini's sixth-man is team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 8.8 points.
2. Leads team and ranks 12th in Big Ten in field goal shooting at 52.5 percent (64-122).
3. Has scored in double figures eight times off the bench, led by season-high 15 points vs. Georgia Tech (11/28)
4. Tied for second on team in rebounding (4.9 rpg).
5. Shooting nearly 83 percent from the free throw line on the season (24-of-29).

Tyler Griffey
1. Fifth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 7.7 points.
2. Shooting 35.8 percent from 3-point range.
3. Just one point away from matching his scoring total from all of last season.
4. Has made 24 threes in 19 games after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last season.
5. More than half of his field goal attempts have been from 3-point range (67 of 121).

Nnanna Egwu
1. Started all 19 games and is averaging 24.2 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds, nearly tripling his production over last season (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
3. Fifth in the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.4 bpg).
4. Had a career-high 16-point performance with eight rebounds vs. Ohio State (Jan. 5).
5. Career-high five blocks at Purdue (Jan. 2), the second-highest performance by a Big Ten player this season.

Complete Illinois-Nebraska Game Notes (PDF)