Jan. 30, 2013
Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
||Has upped scoring by 7.0 ppg over 2011-12
||Ranks 3rd on UI career 3FGM List (243)
||Averaging 18.8 ppg vs. ranked teams
||Leads team & 6th in B1G in Off. Rebs
||Has 10 rebounds in each of last 2 games
Off the Bench
||Leads team in FG percentage (.527)
||Walk-on has 19 pts in 30 mins
||Played season-high 19 mins at Wis.
||Has 20 offensive rebounds on season
||4-9 field goals this season
||15 minutes played this season
||Sitting out season due to transfer rules
||5 points in 8 minutes played
||Hit game-winning 3 vs. Gardner Webb
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 100-62/.617 (5th year)
At Illinois: 15-6/.714 (1st year)
Big Ten: 2-5/.286
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. Michigan State
Series Record: Illinois leads 56-55
Series Streak: Illinois W-1
Record at East Lansing: Michigan State leads 35-18
Series Streak at East Lansing: Michigan State W-5
Last Year's Meeting: Illinois 42, #9/10 MSU 41 (Jan. 31, 2012 at Champaign)
Groce vs. Michigan State: First Meeting
Illinois plays at No. 13 Michigan State on Thursday, the UI's second game in a five-game stretch against four ranked opponents.
After falling to Big Ten co-leader Michigan (6-1) on Sunday, the Illini now face the Spartans (6-2), currently tied for third in the conference standings. Following the trip to East Lansing, the Illini return to Champaign to host Wisconsin (5-3, fifth), and then Indiana (6-1, co-leader).
This is the only meeting between the Illini and MSU. The remaining teams Illinois plays just once during conference play are No. 3 Indiana (Feb. 7-home), Penn State (Feb. 21-home) and Iowa (March 5-away).
Illinois is aiming for its fourth win this season over a team in the current Top 25. The Illini are one of seven teams who have defeated a total of three opponents featured in this week's AP poll - tied for the most nationally along with Michigan, Duke, Syracuse, Arizona, Butler and Indiana State.
Illinois and Butler, meanwhile, are the nation's only teams with two wins over teams in the current AP Top 10.
Michigan State is the sixth ranked opponent that Illinois is facing this season. The Illini are 2-3 against ranked teams, with victories over then-No. 10 Gonzaga and then-No. 8 Ohio State.
Illinois won its most recent road game against a ranked opponent, defeating No. 10 Gonzaga, 85-74, on Dec. 8. Illinois' last road win over a ranked Big Ten opponent came on Feb. 9, 2010, a 63-56 win at No. 11 Wisconsin.
Illinois defeated Nebraska 71-51 in its most recent road game (Jan. 22), snapping a nine-game Big Ten road losing streak. Illinois is attempting to win back-to-back conference road games for the first time since winning three straight during the 2010 season (Jan. 27 at Penn State, Feb. 3 at Iowa, Feb. 9 at Wisconsin).
Illinois has 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 this season, 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.
While the Illini are averaging just 10.7 assists, they are 10-0 this season in games when they out-perform their average by recording at least 11 assists.
Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 16 of 21 games and owns a margin of +5.7 points per game in that category on the season.
Illinois averages 76.6 points on 45.7 percent shooting and 37.1 percent 3-point shooting in its 15 wins, compared to averaging 61.0 points on 35.8 percent shooting and 22.5 percent 3-point shooting in its six losses.
Illinois is shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from 3-point range in its 10 games away from home, an increase over the UI's 42.0 percent shooting from the field and 31.2 percent from 3-point range in its 11 games at Assembly Hall.
Brandon Paul has scored at least 13 points in all but one game this season and has been the UI's leading scorer in 16 of 21 games.
D.J. Richardson has scored in double figures in four of the last five games, averaging 15.8 points (79).
Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 21 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 27 straight games with at least one trey. He made a career-high six treys Jan. 22 at Nebraska.
Nnanna Egwu is averaging 7.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over the last two games. Egwu grabbed a career-high 10 boards each versus Nebraska and Michigan, the first Illini with double-digit rebounds in consecutive games since last season when Meyers Leonard had 12 boards vs. both Michigan (Feb. 12) and Purdue (Feb. 15).
Sam McLaurin is averaging 6.7 points (20) and 5.0 rebounds (15) in the last three games as a starter after averaging 3.6 points (64) and 3.4 rebounds (62) in the first 18 games as a reserve.
Last Time Out
Illinois battled with No. 2 Michigan, but just could not get enough shots to fall in dropping a 74-60 contest to the Wolverines on Sunday at the Assembly Hall. The Illini shot 37.1 percent, going 23-of-62 from the field. Michigan, meanwhile, lived up to its billing as the nation's most efficient offensive team with 52.5 percent shooting. Illinois also was plagued by 15 turnovers, which the Wolverines converted into 22 points.
Brandon Paul was one of three Illini to score in double figures, leading the way with 15 points. D.J. Richardson had another solid outing with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Tracy Abrams added 10 points. Nnanna Egwu, meanwhile, recorded a career high in rebounding for the second straight game, grabbing a game-high 10 boards.
Notes from the 71-51 Victory at Nebraska - Jan. 22
The win over Nebraska was the 100th career victory for Illinois coach John Groce.
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.
Richardson became 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).
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.
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.
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 $50 mini-pack ticket offer is available online at FightingIllini.com.
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.
Looking Back at Last Year's Michigan State Game:
Illinois 42, #9/10 Michigan State 41 // Jan. 31 at Champaign
The Last Meeting
January 31, 2012
Illini Upset No. 9 Michigan State
Brandon Paul shook off a poor-shooting game to score 18 points, including two free throws with 45 seconds left that gave Illinois the lead in a 42-41 victory over No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday night.
Illinois was tough enough to defeat ninth-ranked Michigan State, claiming a 42-41 victory in a physical game reminiscent of an early '80s Big Ten defensive battle.
Michigan State entered the contest averaging nearly 74 points in league play and leading the conference in both field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. But the Illini defense held MSU to season lows in all three categories, as the Spartans managed just 24.1 percent from the field (14-58) and 21.4 percent from behind the arc (3-14) en route to its 41 points. MSU dominated the glass, grabbing 23 offensive rebounds and outrebounding Illinois 49-to-32. The Illini, however, matched the Spartans with 13 second-chance points.
The game was played within a one-possession margin the entire first half. The Illini jumped out to a six-point lead early in the second half and held a 35-29 advantage with 7:45 remaining. Michigan State then went on a 9-0 run to take a 38-35 lead with four minutes left. The Spartans still led by three when Tracy Abrams made the biggest shot of his young career, nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie it at 40 with 2:11 to go. Brandon Paul then hit two free throws with 45 seconds remaining for the eventual game winning points as the Illini defense stood strong in the closing seconds.
Paul was the only Illini to score in double figures, recording a game-high 18 points. Paul had a great all-around game, adding nine boards, five assists, two blocks and two steals.
Illinois' 42 points was its fewest in a win since defeating Notre Dame, 40-38, on Dec. 8, 1947, and fewest in a conference win since beating Wisconsin, 38-31, on Jan. 1, 1946.
Illini Bring Their Best to East Lansing
The Breslin Center is one of the toughest arenas in the Big Ten, but Illinois has competed well on the road against Michigan State over the last decade. The Illini have won three times in their last nine trips to the Breslin Center, earning victories in 2002, 2005 and 2006. Ohio State (4) is the only visitor with more wins in East Lansing since 2002. The Illini's average margin of defeat in the other six games has been just 6.5 points. In all but one of those games (2010), the Illini led at halftime as well as deep into the second half (2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011).
Five Key Facts On ...
1. Leads the Illini in points, is two off the team lead in rebounds and six 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. 3 leading scorer with an average of 17.9 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 (97), and attempts (134), behind Indiana's Cody Zeller.
5. Tied for sixth 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 at Nebraska (Jan. 22).
3. Carries a career-long active streak of 27 straight games making at least one 3-pointer.
4. Tied for sixth among Big Ten players in 3-point field goals this season with an average of 2.4 makes per game and is third in school history in career 3-point field goals with 243
5. Has started 117 career games, tied for fifth on the UI's all-time starts list.
1. Third Illini scoring in double figures with an average of 11.3 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 7.0 points (4.3 last year).
3. Scored in double figures in six of the last eight games, led by career-high 27 points vs. Auburn (Dec. 29).
4. Shooting nearly 52 percent on 2-pointers this season (69-133)
5. Leads the team in assists (3.2 apg).
1. Illini sixth-man is team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 8.5 points.
2. Leads team and ranks ninth in Big Ten in field goal shooting at 52.7 percent (69-131).
3. Third on the team in rebounding (4.5 rpg).
4. 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 7.3 points.
2. Has exceeded his point total from all of last season.
3. Has made 24 threes in 21 games after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last season.
4. Grabbed season-high tying six rebounds vs. Northwestern (Jan. 17) and at Nebraska (Jan. 22).
5. More than half of his field goal attempts have been from 3-point range (73 of 133).
1. Started all 21 games and is averaging 24.7 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 6.3 points and leads team with average of 4.9 rebounds, more than tripling his production over last season (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
3. Sixth in the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.4 bpg).
4. Grabbed career-best 10 boards in each of his last two outings, at Nebraska (Jan. 22) and vs. Michigan (Jan. 27).
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 6.7 points and 5.0 rebounds as a starter the last three games.
3. Leads team and ranks sixth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, averaging 2.4 per game.
4. Tied season high in scoring each of the last two games with seven points apiece at Nebraska (Jan. 22) and vs. Michigan (Jan. 27).
5. Third on the team with 16 blocked shots.
Complete Illinois-Michigan State Game Notes (PDF)