Series Notes vs. Michigan Series Record: Illinois leads 85-74 Series Streak: Michigan W-3 Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 54-24 Series Streak at Champaign: Michigan W-1 Last Year's Meetings:
#22/25 Michigan 70, Illinois 61 (Feb. 12, 2012 at Ann Arbor)
#13/16 Michigan 72, Illinois 61 (March 1, 2012 at Champaign) Groce vs. Michigan at Illinois: First Meeting Groce vs. Michigan All-Time: 1-0
Four of Illinois' next five games are against top-15 ranked opponents.
Three of Illinois' next four games are against the three teams with just one conference loss.
Michigan carries a No. 2 ranking (AP poll) into Sunday's game. Illinois is 5-37 all-time against top-two teams, defeating No. 1 twice and No. 2 three times. All five of those victories occurred in Champaign, the last four at the Assembly Hall:
Illini All-Time Wins over No. 1 and No. 2
#5 Illinois 91, #1 Wake Forest 73 (12/1/2004)
#4 Illinois 57, #1 Michigan State 55 (1/11/1979)
#6 Illinois 86, #2 Indiana 81 (1/4/1965)
Illinois 110, #2 UCLA 83 (12/4/1964)
#7 Illinois 62, #2 San Francisco 33 (12/17/1956)
Michigan is the fifth ranked opponent that Illinois is facing this season. The Illini are 2-2 against ranked teams, with victories at No. 10 Gonzaga and at home over No. 8 Ohio State.
Illinois is aiming for its third win this season over a top-10 team. Six different Illini teams have beaten at least three top-10 opponents. The 2004-05 UI squad was the last to do so, earning victories over No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 9 Arizona and No. 4 Louisville.
Michigan is the lone Big Ten team that John Groce had faced as a head coach prior to taking over at Illinois. Groce's 13th-seeded Ohio Bobcats upset the No. 4-seed Wolverines in last year's NCAA Tournament, 65-60.
Illinois looks to get back on the winning track at the Assembly Hall after dropping its last two home games. The Illini have not lost three straight at home since the final three home contests of the 2009-10 season.
Michigan was victorious in its most recent visit to Champaign last year, earning its first victory at the Assembly Hall since 1995 and snapping a 13-game losing streak.
The Illini are coming off a 71-51 win at Nebraska on Tuesday, a victory that snapped a nine-game Big Ten road losing streak. The 20-point victory margin was Illinois' largest on the road since winning by 24 points at Minnesota on Feb. 12, 2008 (84-60).
Illinois has now scored more than 70 points in 13 games, after doing so just 10 times in 32 games last year. The Illini are 12-1 when reaching the 70-point marker, with the only loss to Missouri.
The Illini are 10-0 when shooting 45 percent or better, and 12-0 when shooting better than their opponent.
Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 16 of 20 games and owns a margin of +6.4 points per game in that category on the season.
The Illini own a rebound margin of +5.7 at home, outrebounding eight of 10 opponents.
Illinois averages 76.6 points on 45.7 percent shooting and 37.1 percent 3-point shooting in its 15 wins, compared to averaging 61.2 points on 35.6 percent shooting and 22.4 percent 3-point shooting in its five losses.
D.J. Richardson scored a career-high 30 points in the win at Nebraska. He is the second Illini to record a 30-point game this season, joining Brandon Paul (35 points at Gonzaga, Dec. 8). This is the first season Illinois has had two different players record 30-point games since 1993-94 (Kiwane Garris and Deon Thomas). The last season Illinois had multiple 30-point performances, meanwhile, was in 2003-04 (Deron Williams, twice).
Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 20 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 26 straight games with at least one trey. He made a career-high six treys Tuesday at Nebraska.
Govoner Vaughn Joins Honored Jerseys
Govoner Vaughn will be honored before Sunday's game when he raises his banner to the Assembly Hall rafters. Vaughn's number 35 joins the Illini Basketball Honored Jerseys, where it will be displayed permanently in recognition of his pioneer status as a trailblazer at Illinois and for his impact on the international game of basketball.
Vaughn became the first African-American letterwinner and starter for the Illini during the 1957-58 season, alongside teammate Mannie Jackson. Vaughn averaged double figures all three years, finishing his career as the Illini's No. 3 all-time scorer with 1,001 points. He was named team MVP as a senior in 1960, also earning All-Big Ten and honorable mention All-America honors.
Following his Illini career, Vaughn played professionally with the Harlem Globetrotters. He later returned to the Globetrotters as Director of Alumni Relations, helping revive the legendary organization's status as one of America's favorite teams.
"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.
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 at Gameday Spirit Champaign locations (519 E. Greet St. or 2028 N. Prospect Ave.) and online at FightingIllini.com. 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.
Another Sellout Awaits
Sunday's game versus Michigan 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.
Notes from the 71-51 Victory at Nebraska - Jan. 22
The win over Nebraska was the 100th career victory for Illinois coach John Groce.
The Illini never trailed against the Huskers, marking the eighth time this season that Illinois has won without falling behind at any point in the game.
D.J. Richardson had a career night, pouring in 30 points to shatter his previous career high of 20, which he had done three times, most recently against Copping State on Dec. 11, 2011. Richardson hit a career-high nine field goals on 14 attempts, nailed a career-high six three-pointers on nine attempts, and was perfect on six free throw attempts.
There have now been five 30-point games by Big Ten players this season. Two of those five belong to the Illini - D.J. Richardson (30 at Nebraska on 1/22/13) and Brandon Paul (35 at Gonzaga 12/8/12). The others are Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas (31 vs. Washington on 11/18/12), Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble (30 vs. Northern Iowa on 12/15/12) and Minnesota's Andre Hollins (41 vs. Memphis on 11/23/12).
Richardson's six made threes gives him 241 for his career and moves him into third place on the Illinois career made three-pointers list.
Illinois dominated the glass, outrebounding the Huskers 40-28 for the game while pulling down 14 offensive rebounds. Nnanna Egwu pulled down a career-high 10 boards, marking the first double-digit rebound game for an Illini player this season.
Joseph Bertrand had an impressive all-around game against the Huskers with a career-high five steals and season high-tying seven rebounds to go along with eight points in 27 minutes.
The Last Meeting
March 1, 2012
Illinois Falls To No. 13 Michigan, 72-61
Illinois (17-13, 6-11) closed to within 40-39 with just over 15 minutes left. But the Illini missed three chances to tie the game or take a lead. The Wolverines stretched the lead to 53-44 with 7:49 to play and Illinois was never close again. Michigan can claim a share of the conference title with a win Sunday over Penn State and an Ohio State win over Michigan State.
#13/16 Michigan 72, Illinois 61 // March 1 at Champaign
Michigan recorded its first win at the Assembly Hall since 1995, defeating the Illini 72-61. The Wolverines never trailed despite a number of comeback attempts by the hosts. Michigan's Trey Burke went on a personal 8-0 run midway through the first half to give the visitors a 22-14 lead. Michigan led by eight at the break but the Illini opened the second half on a 12-5 run to pull within one at 40-39. Illinois later trailed 46-44 and had three consecutive possessions to tie or take the lead but simply could not get a shot to fall. The Wolverines then regained control with a 9-0 spurt to move ahead 55-44 with seven minutes remaining, and the Illini could get no closer than five points the rest of the way.
The key statistic was the differential in 3-point shooting. Michigan outscored the Illini by 15 points from behind the arc, nailing nine treys on 47.4 percent accuracy while the Orange and Blue made four on 28.6 percent shooting.
Meyers Leonard led the Illini in scoring for the third consecutive game, finishing with 18 points. He just missed a double-double, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. Brandon Paul registered 15 points and six boards while Tracy Abrams added 12 points.
#22/25 Michigan 70, Illinois 61 // Feb. 12 at Ann Arbor
Illinois dropped a nine-point decision at No. 22 Michigan. The Illini scored seven of the game's first nine points but the Wolverines answered with a quick 10-1 run of its own to take the lead. With Meyers Leonard sidelined with two fouls for the majority of the first half, the Illini hung around thanks to the production of reserve Tyler Griffey, but Michigan's 56.5 shooting in the opening 20 minutes gave the hosts a six-point lead at the break. The Wolverines extended their lead to as many as 14 before the Illini cut it in half with a 7-0 run to pull within 58-51 with five minutes remaining. But the Illini could get no closer than seven the rest of the way as Michigan made 7-of-8 from the line to seal it.
Brandon Paul led the Illini with a game-high 21 points and Griffey had his best game as an Illini, scoring a career-high 18 points and grabbing five boards in 29 minutes of action. D.J. Richardson also scored in double figures with 12.
Current Illini vs. Michigan
Brandon Paul (5 G): 11.2 ppg (56), 4.4 rpg (22) - Highlights: 15 points and six rebounds last year in Champaign ... Game-high 21 points last year in Ann Arbor ... 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and career-high five steals in 2011 Big Ten Tournament.
Tyler Griffey (3 G): 6.7 ppg (20), 2.0 rpg (6) - Highlights: Career-high 18 points with five rebounds earlier last year in Ann Arbor.
Tracy Abrams (2 G): 6.5 ppg (13), 2.5 rpg (5) - Highlights: 12 points and five rebounds last year in Champaign.
D.J. Richardson (5 G): 6.0 ppg (30), 2.2 rpg (11) - Highlights: 12 points last year in Ann Arbor ... Four assists in 2011 in Champaign ... Eight points and five rebounds in 2010 in Ann Arbor.
Joseph Bertrand (2 G): 4.0 ppg (8), 4.0 rpg (8) - Highlights: Six points and three assists last year in Champaign ... Five rebounds last year in Ann Arbor.
Nnanna Egwu (2 G): 4 pts, 2 reb
Myke Henry (1 G): 2 pts, 0 reb
Mike Shaw (1 G): 0 pts, 0 reb
Ibby Djimde (1 G): 0 pts, 0 reb
Kevin Berardini (1 G): 0 pts, 0 reb
Three-Game Mini-Pack Now on Sale
Fans can help celebrate 50 years of the Assembly Hall by taking advantage of a special 50th anniversary mini-pack offer, which includes a ticket to the final three Illini home games this season - Feb. 13 vs. Purdue, Feb. 21 vs. Penn State, and March 2 vs. Nebraska - all for just $50. That is a 50 percent savings off the single-game ticket price.
The March 2 game, which is exactly 50 years from the day the Assembly Hall opened its doors, will serve as a celebration of five memorable decades. It also will be the final home game for Illini seniors Tyler Griffey, Sam McLaurin, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, who will be honored in senior day ceremonies before taking on the Cornhuskers.
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 18.0 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 (95), and attempts (132), behind Indiana's Cody Zeller.
5. Seventh among Big Ten players in 3-point field goals with an average of 2.4 makes per game.
1. Second on the Illini in scoring with an average of 11.8 points.
2. Scored a career-high 30 points Tuesday at Nebraska.
3. Carries a career-long active streak of 26 straight games making at least one 3-pointer.
4. Currently ranks third in school history in career 3-point field goals with 241
5. Has started 116 career games, sixth on the UI's all-time starts list.
1. Third Illini scoring in double figures with an average of 11.4 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 7.1 points (4.3 last year).
3. Scored in double figures in five of the last seven games, led by career-high 27 points vs. Auburn (Dec. 29).
4. Leads the team in assists (3.2 apg).
5. Tied for team lead in steals (1.6 spg).
1. Illini sixth-man is team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 8.7 points.
2. Leads team and ranks 10th in Big Ten in field goal shooting at 52.8 percent (67-127).
3. Second on the team in rebounding (4.7 rpg).
4. Has scored in double figures eight times off the bench, led by season-high 15 points vs. Georgia Tech (11/28)
5. Shooting better than 83 percent from the free throw line on the season (25-of-30).
1. Fifth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 7.5 points.
2. Has exceeded his point total from all of last season.
3. Has made 24 threes in 20 games after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last season.
4. Grabbed season-high tying six rebounds in each of the last two games.
5. More than half of his field goal attempts have been from 3-point range (70 of 127).
1. Started all 20 games and is averaging 24.4 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 6.3 points and 4.6 rebounds, more than tripling his production over last season (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
3. Sixth in the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.5 bpg).
4. Grabbed career-best 10 boards at Nebraska, the first double-digit rebounding game by an Illini this season.
5. Had a career-high 16-point performance with eight rebounds vs. Ohio State (Jan. 5).
1. Fifth-year transfer is playing more than 20 minutes per game.
2. Averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds as a starter the last two games.
3. Tied season high with seven points Tuesday at Nebraska.
4. Leads team with 46 offensive rebounds.
5. Third on the team with 16 blocked shots.