Men's Basketball
Fighting Illini Game Notes vs. #9/10 Michigan State

The Illini will wear blue uniforms for Tuesday's home game vs. the Spartans.
The Illini will wear blue uniforms for Tuesday's home game vs. the Spartans.

Jan. 30, 2012

Game 22 Notes // Illinois (15-6, 4-4) vs. #9/10 Michigan State (17-4, 6-2)

Jan. 31, 2012 // 6 p.m. CT // Champaign, Ill. // Assembly Hall (16,618)

OPERATION BLUE OUT: Information | Buy Shirts | Coaches vs. Cancer

Complete Game Notes (PDF): Illinois | Michigan State | Big Ten

Gameday Links: Watch | Listen | Gametracker | Mobile Live Stats | Twitter | Buy Tickets

Preview Interviews: Coach Weber | Leonard | Paul | Richardson

TV: ESPN - Mike Tirico (Play-By-Play), Dan Dakich (Analyst), Samantha Steele (Reports)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - Brian Barnhart (Play-By-Play), Jerry Hester (Analyst), Loren Tate (Reports)
Satellite Radio: Sirius - 91, XM - 91

Probable Starters (from the previous game)

Pos.	No.	Name    	Ht.	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	13 	Tracy Abrams 	6-1	185	Fr.	2.7	2.4	1.7	19.0 mpg
G	1	D.J. Richardson	6-3	195	Jr.	12.5	2.9	2.0	38.9  3FG%
G	3	Brandon Paul	6-4	200	Jr.	14.6	5.0	3.0	1.6 spg
G	2	Joseph Bertrand	6-5	195	r-So.	7.0	2.5	1.2	59.8  FG%
C	12	Meyers Leonard	7-1	245	So.	13.4	8.0	1.3	2.0 bpg

Off the Bench
Pos.	No.	Name    	Ht. 	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	0	Sam Maniscalco	6-0	180	Gr.	8.4	2.3	2.7	82.1  FT%
F	15	Mike Shaw	6-8	230	Fr.	1.1	2.3	0.1	8.3 mpg
G/F	20	Myke Henry	6-6	230	Fr.	3.0	1.2	0.2 	44.1  FG%
G/F	21	Devin Langford	6-7	200	Fr.
F/C	23	Ibby Djimde	6-8	250	Fr.	0.5	1.1	0.0	4.5 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.	2.1	1.7	0.2	50.0  FG%
F	42	Tyler Griffey	6-8	230	Jr.	5.0	3.5	0.5	30 off. reb.
G	44	Kevin Berardini	6-0	175	r-So.	0.0	0.0	0.0	4 minutes

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 311-146/.681 (14th year)
At Illinois: 208-92/.693 (9th year)
Big Ten: 87-57/.604
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. Michigan State
Series Record: Tied, 55-55
Last Year's Meetings: ILL 71, MSU 62 (1/18/11 at Champaign); MSU 61, ILL 57 (2/19/11 at East Lansing)
Series Streak: Michigan State W-1
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 36-17
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-2
Weber vs. Michigan State: 7-8

Operation Blue-Out
Illinois is promoting Operation Blue-Out for Tuesday night's game vs. Michigan State. All fans are encouraged to "wear blue to beat cancer" when the Illini and Spartans battle at the Assembly Hall in an ESPN Super Tuesday match-up. Tickets are still available, and fans looking for a blue item to wear to the game can purchase special Operation Blue-Out shirts at one of two Gameday Spirit stores in Champaign (519 E. Green St. or 1615 W. Springfield). The shirts are $9.99, and a portion of the proceeds from sales will go to Coaches vs. Cancer. Operation Blue-Out shirts will be on sale Tuesday night at the Assembly Hall and also are available online at for $12.

Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers
Coach Weber and his assistants will be sporting Nikes on the Assembly Hall sidelines during the game against Michigan State, trading in dress shoes for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers Awareness Weekend. Since Illinois had a road game and MSU had a bye last weekend, both coaching staffs are participating in the event Tuesday night.

Coaches vs. Cancer is a collaboration between the ACS and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Since 1993, the organization has raised more than $50 million for ACS. Coach Weber serves on the Coaches vs. Cancer national board and was recognized for his contributions and involvement with the program by receiving the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award in 2007. Weber also was one of four head coaches who traveled to Washington D.C. in 2010 to participate in a Capitol Hill rally, urging Congress to increase federal funding for cancer research and prevention programs.

Taking on Another Top-10 Foe
Michigan State is ranked 10th in the latest Associated Press poll. The Spartans are the third Top-10 team the Illini have faced this season, following a 78-74 loss to No. 9 Missouri (Dec. 22) and a 79-74 victory over No. 5 Ohio State (Jan. 10).

The Illini are 4-5 in home games against Top-10 opponents under Coach Bruce Weber. Two of those wins have been against Michigan State. The Illini defeated the No. 7-ranked Spartans at the Assembly Hall in 2006 and beat No. 5-ranked MSU at The Hall in 2010.

Bouncing Back
Illinois enters Tuesday night looking to end its recent three-game skid. The Illini have lost three straight just seven times during Coach Bruce Weber's nine seasons in Champaign, with only one of those streaks extending past three games. Illinois has responded with a victory each of the last four times following three consecutive losses. The most recent occurrence was a victory over Wisconsin in the 2010 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal after the UI dropped its final three regular season games.

The Illini's lone losing streak under Weber longer than three games was a five-game skid during the 2007-08 season (Dec. 30, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008).

Close Games Becoming a Habit
It seems every time the Illini take the floor the outcome is decided in the final seconds. Illinois has been involved in 10 games decided by five points or less this season. That tally does not include the first Minnesota game, which was tied at the end of regulation (final margin in double overtime was nine points).

Each of Illinois' last six games has been decided by five points or less. That is the UI's longest streak in conference play in the modern era and its longest in 83 years, since the Illini had eight straight games decided by five or less during league play in 1929.

Overall, the Illini are 10-4 in games decided by single digits and 6-4 in games decided by five or less. That is a welcome change from last year 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.

Illinois' six victories by five points or less tie the most in a season under Weber and the most since his 2006-07 squad also won six games by a margin of five or fewer. Following is a year-by-year look at the Illini in games decided by five points or less under Weber:

Season	Record
2011-12	6-4
2010-11	2-7
2009-10	5-6
2008-09	4-4
2007-08	4-6
2006-07	6-2
2005-06	4-4
2004-05	2-2
2003-04	4-1

Last Time Out
Illinois dropped a heartbreaker Saturday night in Minneapolis, falling to the Gophers in overtime by the score of 77-72. After trailing by nine points with 11 minutes remaining, the Illini went on a 15-2 run over the next four minutes to take the lead at 50-46. The Gophers fought back to tie the game with 1:06 left but D.J. Richardson scored on a breakaway to put the Illini up two. After a Minnesota turnover, Joseph Bertrand then made a driving layup to make it a 62-58 game with 32 seconds remaining.

After a Gopher 3-pointer, Brandon Paul made a pair of free throws to put the Illini ahead 64-61 with 12 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Minnesota's Austin Hollins drove to the basket and scored with four seconds left and Meyers Leonard was called for a foul, his fifth. Hollins then made the free throw, forcing overtime. The Gophers had momentum on their side in the extra session, jumping out to an eight-point lead. The Illini got within three near the end, but the Gophers hit two free throws with seven seconds left to close out the game.

Brandon Paul led the way for the Illini with 28 points and Meyers Leonard tallied his second straight double-double and seventh of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Paul Tops Big Ten Scoring List
Brandon Paul is the Big Ten's leading scorer nearly halfway through conference action, averaging 20.0 points in league play. He has scored 20 or more four times in eight league games, most recently tallying 28 on Saturday at Minnesota.

The last Illini player to lead the conference in scoring was Brian Cook during his senior season in 2003. Cook averaged exactly 20.0 points during league play, which also is the last time an Illini player averaged at least 20 points.

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 11.3 points and his rebounding average by 6.8 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	+11.3 ppg (13.4-2.1)

Best UI Rebounding Improvement (Avg.) 1. Skip Thoren, 1964 +8.0 rpg (13.8-5.8) 2. Meyers Leonard, 2012 +6.8 rpg (8.0-1.2) 3. Mike Davis, 2009 +6.3 rpg (8.1-1.8)

Looking Back at Last Season's Games vs. Michigan State:

• #23/22 Illinois 71, #17/18 Michigan State 62 // Jan. 18, 2011 // Champaign
The Fighting Illini broke out of a two-game shooting slump in a victory over Michigan State, hitting 61.5 percent in the first half and 53.2 percent for the game, while holding the Spartans to just 37.5 percent shooting that included 28.1 percent in the second half. The Illini led by just two at 59-57 with 8:50 remaining but outscored the Spartans 12-5 the rest of the way. Illinois made 10-of-14 from the free throw line and added a jumper by Mike Tisdale while holding Michigan State to just two field goals.

Four Illini scored in double figures on the evening, led by Brandon Paul, who tallied a game-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Demetri McCamey had a double-double with 15 points and season-high 11 assists while Mike Davis also recorded a double-double with 11 points and game-high 11 rebounds. Jereme Richmond added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

• Michigan State 61, Illinois 57 // Feb. 19, 2011 // East Lansing
The Illini gave a great effort but came up short at the end in East Lansing. Illinois led 26-25 at the half and put itself in position to win with the game tied at 51 and less than three minutes remaining. But in a contest that featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes, the Spartans made more plays at the end, outscoring the Illini 10-6 over the final 2:30. Illinois was unable to contain MSU's Kalin Lucas, who scored 25 points. Seventeen of his points came in the second half, including 11 straight and 15 of the Spartans' last 21.

Demetri McCamey was one of three Illini to score in double figures, leading the way with 15 points and game-high five assists. Mike Davis scored 14 and had five rebounds and three steals, while Brandon Paul added 12 points with three steals.

Five Facts on ...

Brandon Paul
1. Leads Illini in scoring on the season (14.6 ppg), and leads Big Ten in scoring during conference play (20.0 ppg).
2. Scored in double figures in 14 of the last 15 games, including each of the last 10. Averaging 19.4 points (194) and 6.0 rebounds (60) over the last 10 games.
3. Scored career-high 43 points Jan. 10 vs. Ohio State (see box on page 5 for more details).
4. Leads Illini in assists with 3.0 average.
5. Has made 112 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (156 FTA).

Meyers Leonard
1. Leads the Illini and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.0 rpg), and is second on the team in scoring (13.4 ppg).
2. First in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.0 bpg (43).
3. Seven double-doubles on the season - including each of the last two games - ranking third among Big Ten players.
4. Eighth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 57.7 percent (109-189).
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.3 points (2.1 ppg last year), the second-best improvement in the Big Ten behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (+11.6 ppg).

D.J. Richardson
1. Third on team in scoring with an average of 12.5 points.
2. Leads the Illini in 3-point shooting at 38.9 percent (49-126).
3. Average of 2.3 threes per game ranks third in Big Ten.
4. Increased his scoring average by 4.1 points over last year (8.4 ppg), when he was UI's fifth-leading scorer.
5. Despite playing nearly 83 percent of available minutes, has a turnover rate of only 12 percent.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Averaging 12.2 points (110) on 65.8 percent shooting (50-76) over the last nine games, scoring in double figures six times.
2. Third in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 59.8 percent (64-107).
3. Averaging 11.4 points in Big Ten play, 4.4 points better than his all-games average of 7.0 points.
4. Scored career-high 25 points Jan. 7 vs. Nebraska.
5. Made 12 consecutive shots in two-game stretch the first week of January (last four at Northwestern-1/4, first eight vs. Nebraska-1/7) after making 13 consecutive shots over two-game stretch the last week of December (all nine vs. Missouri-12/22, first four vs. Minnesota-12/27).

Sam Maniscalco
1. Fourth-leading UI scorer with average of 8.4 points.
2. Leads Illini with a 2.09 assist-to-turnover ratio (48-23).
3. Shooting better than 82 percent from the free throw line (32-39).
4. Third on the team in 3-point field goals with 21.
5. Returned to action Jan. 19 at Penn State after missing three games with ankle injury.

Tracy Abrams
1. Started last six games after starting first two games of his career.
2. Scored career-high nine points vs. Wisconsin on Jan. 22.
3. Grabbed 24 rebounds over the last eight games (3.0 rpg).
4. Has not committed a turnover in two of the last five games (Wisconsin and Northwestern)
5. First Illini true-freshman point guard to start first career game since Dee Brown started opener in 2002-03.

Tyler Griffey
1. Averaging 5.0 points and 3.5 boards this year, tripling his scoring and rebounding averages from last season (1.6 ppg and 1.2 rpg in 2010-11).
2. Ranks second on the Illini with 30 offensive rebounds.
3. Has scored in double figures three times this year after totaling three double-figure scoring games over his first two seasons.
4. Illinois is 17-2 in games he has started during his career (13-2 this season, 4-0 in 2009-10).
5. Scored five points Jan. 19 at Penn State, his highest total since the Cornell game on Dec. 19 (8 pts).

Assembly Hall: The House of 'Paign
Illinois is 11-1 at home this season, suffering its lone loss Jan. 22 to Wisconsin.

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-and-a-half seasons, owning a record of 166-26 at The Hall. The Illini also are 115-24 (.827) 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	11-1	3-1
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	166-26	82-21