Rodney Alexander and the Illini host Northwestern Sunday at 7 p.m. CT.
Jan. 26, 2008
Champaign, Ill. -
FIGHTING ILLINI BASKETBALL
Game #21: Illinois (9-11, 1-6) vs. Northwestern (6-10, 0-6)
Jan. 27, 2008 7 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, 10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 apg)
C - 54 Mike Tisdale (Fr., 7-1, 215, 4.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg)
G - 25 Calvin Brock (r-Jr., 6-5, 195, 7.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg)
G - 1 Trent Meacham (r-Jr., 6-2, 195, 10.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.9 apg)
G - 32 Demetri McCamey (Fr., 6-3, 205, 6.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Off the Bench
G - 2 Chris Hicks (Sr., 6-2, 190, 0.2 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
G - 3 Chester Frazier (Jr., 6-2, 190, 4.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.2 apg)
G - 13 Jeff Jordan (Fr., 6-1, 185, 0.9 ppg, 0.3 rpg)
G - 22 Steve Holdren (r-Jr., 6-5, 200, 1.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
F - 23 Rodney Alexander (Jr., 6-7, 225, 5.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
F - 24 Mike Davis (Fr., 6-9, 195, 2.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
F - 30 Bill Cole (Fr., 6-9, 210, 2.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
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, 0.5 rpg)
C - 55 Shaun Pruitt (Sr., 6-10, 245, 12.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Overall Record: 224-93/.707 (10th year)
At Illinois: 121-39/.756 (5th year)
Big Ten: 49-22/.690
Vs. Northwestern: 8-1
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)
Northwestern Head Coach: Bill Carmody
Overall Record: 193-147/.568 (12th year)
At Northwestern: 101-123/.451 (8th year)
Vs. Illinois: 1-13
Series Notes: Northwestern
Illinois leads the all-time series over Northwestern 124-34, and owns a 61-13 advantage in games played in Champaign. Illinois carries an eight-game winning streak over the Wildcats into Sunday's game, and has won the last six games played at Assembly Hall.
This is the only meeting between the two teams this year as Northwestern is one of Illinois' "singles" in the Big Ten schedule. The Illini will also play Iowa just once during conference play.
Illini Headlines ...
After concluding a stretch of playing four of five games on the road, three of Illinois' next four games are at the Assembly Hall.
Six of Illinois' next seven games will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Five of Illinois' first seven conference games were against teams in the top five of the current standings, four of which were on the road.
Shaun Pruitt is just one rebound away from collecting his 600th career board. He is the Big Ten's active leading rebounder with 599 career boards, leading Indiana's D.J. White (591) by eight rebounds.
Eight different players have been the Illini's leading scorer in a game this season (Brian Randle-7, Shaun Pruitt-6, Trent Meacham-4, Calvin Brock-2, Rodney Alexander-2, Demetri McCamey-1, Mike Tisdale-1, Chester Frazier-1).
Rodney Alexander erupted for a career-high 20 points Tuesday at Ohio State, reaching double figures for the first time in 14 games. He also had a career-best 11 rebounds to record his first career double-double.
Brian Randle is averaging 14.0 points (56) and 10.3 rebounds (41) over the last four games. He had nine points and 10 rebounds at Indiana, a career-high 19 points with 10 boards vs. Michigan, 15 points and a season-high 11 rebounds at Purdue, and his third consecutive double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds at Ohio State.
Shaun Pruitt has averaged 16.0 points (48) and 8.0 rebounds (24) over the last three games in which he has played (did not play Tuesday at Ohio State). He had 14 points and eight rebounds at Indiana, 19 points and seven boards vs. Michigan, and 15 points and nine boards at Purdue.
Trent Meacham is averaging 11.2 points over the last five games (56) after totaling just five points over the previous two games. He had 14 points at Wisconsin, eight at Indiana, 11 vs. Michigan and at Purdue and 12 at Ohio State.
Chester Frazier has a 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio over his last five games (24 a/6 to). He ranks third in the Big Ten with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play.
Meacham has a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last four games (16 a/6 to).
Shaun Pruitt leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds with an average of 3.6 per game (68 total off. reb.). He ranks fourth in the league in total rebounds (7.9 avg).
Pruitt and Randle combined for 38 points vs. Michigan on Jan. 16, equaling the senior duo's highest scoring total of the season. They also combined for 38 points vs. Miami (OH) on Dec. 20.
Trent Meacham knocked down 4-of-5 three-pointers vs. Wisconsin on Jan. 10, the top 3-point shooting performance by an Illini player this season.
Shaun Pruitt has scored at least nine points in 17 of the 19 games he has appeared in this season.
Only five teams have scored more than 70 points against the Illini this year (last: Purdue on Jan. 19, 74 pts).
Illinois has not allowed an opponent to score 80 or more points in 46 consecutive games. The last team to do so was Arizona on Dec. 2, 2006 (84 points).
Illinois has only had three opponents this season shoot better than 46 percent from the field (last: Ohio State on Jan. 22, 54.8%).
Illinois has outrebounded its opponent in 15 of 20 games and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rebound margin at +5.1 rpg.
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 became the first Illini to earn Player of the Week honors since James Augustine on Dec. 5, 2005.
Pruitt is Illinois' active career scoring leader with 877 career points. If he maintains his season scoring average, Pruitt should join the 1,000-point club around the first week of March. He is also 31 points away from joining the Top 50 list of Illinois' all-time leading scorers (No. 50 Stephen Bardo - 908 pts).
There have been 54 consecutive sellout crowds at the Assembly Hall entering the next home game vs. Northwestern on Sunday. The streak began on Dec. 6, 2004.
Last Time Out: Ohio State
Illinois' late-game rally fell short in a 64-58 loss at Ohio State Tuesday. Playing without leading scorer and rebounder Shaun Pruitt, the Illini started slow but made a strong comeback. Trailing by 15 points with six minutes left, Illinois went on a 18-6 run to make it a three-point game at 61-58 with 30 seconds remaining. OSU then missed two free throws to keep it a one-possession game, but Illinois could not come up with the the defensive rebound and was forced to foul again. This time the Buckeyes hit their foul shots to ice the game.
Rodney Alexander led the Illini with a game-high and career-high 20 points. He also had a career-best 11 rebounds to collect his first career double-double. Brian Randle, meanwhile, recorded his third straight double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Trent Meacham also finished in double figures with 12, hitting four 3-pointers.
Oh So Close
In seven of its 11 losses, Illinois has either led, been tied or trailed by no more than three points with less than two minutes remaining ... Illinois has led during the second half in six losses ... Eight of Illinois' losses have been by eight points or less ... Illinois is 3-8 on the year in games decided by less than nine points.
Illinois has played one of the nation's most difficult schedules this season. Illinois' strength of schedule currently ranks 21st. The Illini own the fourth-toughest SOS in the Big Ten behind Michigan (8), Ohio State (9) and Michigan State (17).
Illinois has faced six opponents in the current top 50 of the RPI, trailing only Michigan (7) for the most games by a Big Ten team vs. the RPI top 50.
Illinois has also played the most difficult league schedule to date. Five of Illinois' first seven conference games were against teams in the top five of the current standings, four of which were on the road.
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 50th nationally in scoring defense with opponents averaging 62.4 points per game on the season. The Illini are fifth in the Big Ten and 27th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense (.398) and second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.316).
No team has reached 80 points on the Illini this season, with just five opponents scoring more than 70 points. Illinois' defense also has allowed only three teams to shoot over 46 percent from the field.
Illinois' defense has stood out this year against two of the nation's top scoring teams. Missouri ranks 19th in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 81.4 ppg. But Illinois held the Tigers to a season-low 58 points, 23 points below its average, in a Braggin' Rights victory on Dec. 22.
Illinois held Indiana, the Big Ten's top scoring team and No. 22 in the NCAA, over 18 points below its season average on Jan. 13. The Hoosiers are averaging 80.3 points but scored a season-low 62 vs. the Illini.
Illinois has also had two other memorable defensive efforts this season. The Illini 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 also 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.
Dominating the Glass
Illinois has outrebounded 15 of 20 opponents this year and owns a rebounding margin of +5.1 on the season. Illinois ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding margin and is third in the conference in total rebounds, averaging 37.8 rpg.
Illinois' bench is contributing 20.8 points per game (415 total) and has had nine double-figure scoring games by players off the bench this season.
*For complete set of Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at top of this page.