Illinois travels to Evanston, Ill. to face Northwestern on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
Feb. 6, 2007
Champaign, Ill. -
FIGHTING ILLINI BASKETBALL
Game #26: Illinois (17-8, 5-5) at Northwestern (11-11, 1-8)
Feb. 7, 2007 6 p.m. CT ESPN2
Evanston, Ill. Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
On the Air
ESPN2: Terry Gannon, play-by-play; Stephen Bardo, expert analyst.
Illini Sports Network - 47 stations: Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Jerry Hester, expert analyst; Loren Tate pregame/halftime/ postgame interviews.
Illini Probable Starters
F - 42 Brian Randle (r-Jr, 6-8, 220, 8.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.1 apg)
F - 41 Warren Carter (Sr., 6-9, 220, 13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.2 bpg)
C - 55 Shaun Pruitt (Jr., 6-10, 245, 11.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
G - 33 Rich McBride (Sr., 6-3, 205, 9.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 apg)
G - 1 Trent Meacham (r-So., 6-2, 195, 6.0 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 1.9 apg)
Off the Bench
G - 2 Chris Hicks (Jr., 6-2, 190, 0.5 ppg, 0.1 rpg)
G - 3 Chester Frazier (So., 6-2, 190, 8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.4 spg)
C - 21 Brian Carlwell (Fr., 6-11, 265, 1.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
F - 25 Calvin Brock (r-So., 6-5, 195, 5.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.7 apg)
G - 31 Jamar Smith (So., 6-3, 185, 8.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.8 apg)
F - 34 C.J. Jackson (r-Fr., 6-8, 260, 1.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
F - 44 Marcus Arnold (r-Sr., 6-8, 245, 1.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
F - 50 Richard Semrau (Fr., 6-9, 230, 3.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg) -Out-
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
At Illinois: 106-24/.815 (4th year)
Overall Record: 209-78/.728 (9th year)
Big Ten: 44-14/.759
Vs. Northwestern: 6-1
Assistant Coaches: Wayne McClain (6th year), Jay Price (4th year), Tracy Webster (3rd year)
Assistant to the Head Coach: Gary Nottingham (4th year)
Trainer: Al Martindale (24th year at Illinois)
Northwestern Head Coach: Bill Carmody
Overall Record: 185-131/.585 (11th year)
At Northwestern: 93-106/.467 (7th year)
Vs. Illinois: 1-11
Assistant Coaches: Paul Lee, Mitch Henderson, Tavaras Hardy
Series Notes: Northwestern
Illinois leads the all-time series over Northwestern 122-34, and owns a 59-21 advantage in games played in Evanston. Illinois carries a six-game winning streak over the Wildcats into Wednesday's game.
Illinois won both match-ups last season, 58-47 in Evanson on Jan. 21 and 63-47 in Champaign on Feb. 15.
This is the first of two games between the Illini and the Wildcats in a period of 11 days. The teams meet again in Champaign next Sunday, Feb. 18.
After concluding a stretch of having four of five games at home, Illinois finishes Big Ten play with four of six games on the road.
Illinois has won back-to-back games for the first time in Big Ten play and has improved to .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
Illinois won its 17th straight game over Minnesota on Saturday, a streak that spans the last eight-plus seasons, beginning with the 1999 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal. It is the longest active winning streak by any Big Ten school over a conference opponent. It also marks the longest winning streak in Illini history over a Big Ten opponent. Illinois' previous best conference winning streaks were a pair of 16-game streaks over Northwestern (1/11/47-3/5/55 & 2/4/84-3/2/91 and one 16-game streak over Wisconsin (2/12/81-1/12/89).
Illinois' defense has allowed an average of just 56.0 points (392) over the last seven games, holding six of seven opponents under 70 points, and four of seven opponents under 60 points.
Illinois has also held its opponents to just 22.3 percent shooting from 3-point range (23-103) over the last seven games.
Shaun Pruitt has averaged 13.8 points (69) and 9.8 rebounds (49) over the last five games, posting double-doubles in three of those five contests. Pruitt tied his career high with 19 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20), had 10 points and 13 rebounds vs. Indiana (Jan. 23), 13 points and 11 boards at Purdue (Jan. 27), 15 points and five boards vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30) and 12 points and six boards vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
Rich McBride has averaged 12.5 points (100) over the last eight games after combining for just 7 points and making one 3-pointer over the previous three games. McBride scored 15 points against Iowa (Jan. 10), had a team-high 12 points at Michigan State (Jan. 14), nine points at Minnesota (Jan. 17), 15 points vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20), a team-high 15 points vs. Indiana (Jan. 23), nine points at Purdue (Jan. 27), 12 points vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30) and a team-high 13 points vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
McBride is shooting 41.5 percent from 3-point range and is averaging 3.4 treys over the last eight games (27-65).
Brian Randle has shot 66.7 percent from the field (22-33) over the last six games in which he has played, after making just 3-16 in the previous three games. He is averaging 9.0 points (54) over those six games.
Jamar Smith reached double figures for the first time in nine games with a team-high 13 points vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
Over his last 18 games, Warren Carter is averaging 13.9 points (250) and 6.6 rebounds (119). Included in that stretch have been three 20+ point performances for the senior power forward. Carter had a career-high 24 points vs. Arizona (Dec. 2), tying the highest point total by UI player this season, and 21 points vs. both IUPUI (Dec. 6) and Belmont (Dec. 17). During that 18-game stretch, Carter has been Illinois' leading scorer seven times and has reached double figures 15 times.
In the second half of games this season, Chester Frazier is averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point range, compared to his averages of 2.3 points, 1.7 assists, 1.6 rebounds, 33.3 percent field goal shooting and 19.2 percent 3-point shooting in the first half of games.
Illinois ranks 20th in the NCAA in scoring defense (as of Feb. 1), holding its opponents to an average of just 59.2 points on the season.
Illinois extended its school-record streak of consecutive sell-out crowds at the Assembly Hall (16,618) to 43 against Minnesota.
Illinois has started seven different lineups this season. Last season, the Illini started the same lineup in 32 of 33 games and two seasons ago, Illinois had the same starting lineup in all 39 games.
Illinois has had five players miss a combined total of 40 games so far this season due to injury (Richard Semrau-20, Brian Randle-11, Jamar Smith-6, Chester Frazier-2, Warren Carter-1).
In six of its eight losses, Illinois has led during the second half.
In its victory over No. 23 Indiana on Jan. 23, the Illini held the Hoosiers to a season-low 43 points. It marked the fewest points Illinois has allowed to a ranked opponent in conference play in 22 years, since defeating No. 13 Indiana 52-41 on Jan. 27, 1985.
Illinois is a balanced offensive club, with six players averaging over 8.0 points and eight members of the roster averaging at least 5.9 points per game.
Seven different players have been Illinois' leading scorer in a game this season (Warren Carter-8, Shaun Pruitt-6, Jamar Smith-5, Rich McBride-4, Chester Frazier-2, Trent Meacham-2, Brian Randle-1).
Trent Meacham ranks fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 44.1 percent (30-68). He had a school-record eight 3-pointers vs. Florida A&M (Nov. 19), which is also the most treys by a Big Ten player this year.
Chester Frazier ranks fourth in the Big Ten in assists with an average of 4.8 apg. He had a career-high 11 assists vs. Bradley (Nov. 25) and again vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6), and also had 10 assists vs. Florida A&M (Nov. 19).
Illinois' leading scorer, Warren Carter ranks 12th in the league with an average of 13.0 points. Carter is also ninth in the conference in rebounding, averaging 6.3 rpg, and ninth in blocks, averaging 1.2 bpg.
Shaun Pruitt ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and is fourth in field goal percentage (.544, 117-215).
Jamar Smith has five games with at least four 3-pointers, making five treys in the season opener vs. Austin Peay (Nov. 13), a perfect 5-5 from 3-point land vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6), four 3s vs. Missouri (Dec. 19), five treys vs. Idaho State (Dec. 21), and four vs. Xavier (Dec. 29).
Shaun Pruitt has scored in double figures in 18 games this season and is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg. He scored a career-high 19 points vs. Missouri (Dec. 19) and vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20).
Pruitt leads the Illini with seven double-doubles on the season.
Calvin Brock has scored at least six points in 13 games.
Illinois leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (13.2 rpg).
Illinois has scored over 70 points in 13 games.
Illinois has shot better than 45 percent in 10 games, topping 50 percent seven times.
The Illini are third in the Big Ten in 3-pointers, making an average of 7.0 per game.
Illinois has outrebounded 13 opponents and is outrebounding its opponent by an average of 4.3 boards.
Last Time Out: Minnesota
Illinois rode another solid defensive effort to a 59-49 win over Minnesota on Saturday night at the Assembly Hall.
Leading 31-27 early in the second half, the Illini went on a 21-4 run over a 10-minute stretch to take its largest lead of the game at 52-31.
Minnesota shot just 31.5 percent on the night and made 17 baskets, tying its second fewest number of field goals on the year.
Four Illini players scored in double figures, led by 13 points apiece from Rich McBride and Jamar Smith. Shaun Pruitt reached double figures for the fifth straight game with 12 points, while Warren Carter added 10.
Illinois took care of the ball well, committing just seven turnovers on the evening to tie a season low. The Illini shot nearly 41 percent (22-43) and made seven 3-pointers, compared to just three by the Gophers.
Illini By the Numbers Under Weber
Illinois has been a consistent winner under Bruce Weber, a tenure that spans the most successful period in school history. The following is a breakdown of Illinois' success under Weber:
106-24: Illinois' overall record under Weber, a winning percentage of .815.
54-5: Illinois' record at the Assembly Hall under Weber, a winning percentage of .915.
37-2: Illinois' record in 2004-05, which tied the record for the winningest season in NCAA history.
26-7: Illinois' record last season as well as Weber's first season (2003-04), which tie the fourth-winningest season in school history.
44-14: Illinois' record in Big Ten play under Weber - which incudes back-to-back outright championships in 2004 and 2005 - a winning percentage of .759.
93-19: Illinois' record in regular season games under Weber, a winning percentage of .830.
49-5: Illinois' record in regular season non-conference games under Weber, a winning percentage of .907.
21-10: Illinois' record in road games under Weber, a winning percentage of .677.
30-8: Illinois' record in neutral-site games under Weber, a winning percentage of .789.
8-3: Illinois' NCAA Tournament record under Weber - which includes a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and the program's first-ever appearance in the national championship game in 2005 - a winning percentage of .727.
5-2: Illinois' Big Ten Tournament record under Weber - which includes the 2005 tournament title - a winning percentage of .714.
13-5: Illinois' combined postseason record under Weber, a winning percentage of .722.
Carter Aiming High As A Senior
One of the most improved players in the Big Ten, Warren Carter is having an outstanding senior season. The replacement for James Augustine at power forward, Carter has started all 24 games that he has played in this year and leads the team in scoring with an average of 13.0 points (12th in Big Ten). He has reached double figures 18 times, led by a career-high 24 points on 11-17 shooting vs. Arizona (Dec. 2).
Carter has topped the 20-point marker three times on the season, with a game-high 21 points vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6) and another 21-point effort vs. Belmont (Dec. 17).
Carter had 17 points vs. Bradley (Nov. 25). He also had eight rebounds vs. the Braves and had eight points, three blocks and three steals vs. Miami (OH) the night before to earn a spot on the Chicago Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Carter started strong against Maryland (Nov. 28), scoring all 13 of his points in the first half, while tallying a double-double with 11 boards.
Carter suffered a hip injury at the end of the Missouri game and did not play against Idaho State on Dec. 21. He returned to the lineup vs. Xavier (Dec. 29) and scored 14 points with five boards. He again had 14 points with eight boards vs. Michigan (Jan. 3) and had 11 pts-8 reb vs. Ohio State (Jan. 6).
Carter had 16 points vs. Iowa (Jan. 10) on 6-7 shooting, had 11 vs. Michigan State (Jan. 14) and reached double figures for the eighth straight game with a team-best 17 points at Minnesota (Jan. 17), also collecting 11 rebounds against the Gophers for his fourth double-double of the season.
Carter's double figures streak came to an end vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20) when he had nine points, but he bounced back with 14 points vs. Indiana (Jan. 23). After scoring 12 points at Purdue (Jan. 27), he most recently reached double figures with 10 vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
Carter is second on the team in rebounding behind Pruitt, averaging 6.3 rpg to rank ninth in the Big Ten. He had the first double-double of his career vs. Jackson State (Nov. 15) with 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Over his last 18 games, Carter is averaging 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. During that stretch, Carter has been Illinois' leading scorer seven times and has reached double figures 15 times.
Pruitt A Consistent Contributor
Shaun Pruitt started every game last season and is once again the Illini's starting center this year. The only player to start all 25 games this season, Pruitt has scored in double figures in 18 games and is second on the team in scoring with an average of 11.5 points.
Pruitt leads the Illini and is second in the Big Ten in rebounding with an average of 7.4 boards and has been an efficient scorer, shooting 54.4 percent from the field (117-215) to rank fourth in the Big Ten. He has seven double-doubles on the season to lead all Illini players.
Pruitt had 15 points on 7-9 shooting vs. Jackson State (Nov. 15) and recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 10 rebounds vs. Savannah State (Nov. 21).
He earned Chicago Invitational Challenge All-Tournament Team honors after posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards vs. Miami (OH) (Nov. 24) followed by 16 points and nine rebounds vs. Bradley (Nov. 25).
Pruitt was at his best vs. Maryland (Nov. 28), scoring 18 points on 7-12 shooting. He tallied his third double-double of the season against the Terrapins, collecting 11 rebounds in addition to his 18 points.
Pruitt scored in double figures for the sixth straight game vs. Arizona (Dec. 2), registering 11 points. That streak came to an end with seven points vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6), but Pruitt was back in double figures with 13 points vs. Belmont (Dec. 17).
He then scored a career-high 19 points on 8-11 shooting and had a game-high nine boards vs. Missouri (Dec. 19). He finished non-conference play with 11 points and 11 boards vs. Xavier (Dec. 29).
Pruitt had 16 points on 7-8 shooting vs. Iowa (Jan. 10) and had 10 points and a game-high seven rebounds at Michigan State (Jan. 14).
Pruitt has reached double figures in his last five games, recording double-doubles in three of those five contests. He had the best game of his career vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20), tying his career high with 19 points and pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds. He then had 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds vs. Indiana (Jan. 23) and had 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at Purdue (Jan. 27). Pruitt had 15 points and five boards vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30) and most recently had 12 points and six boards vs. Minnesota on Tuesday.
Over the last five games, Pruitt is averaging 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds.
Frazier On Point
Chester Frazier has taken over the reins at point guard following the graduation of Dee Brown. The sophomore from Baltimore has been very productive in all facets of the game. He is averaging 8.3 points and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 4.8 assists. Frazier is also fourth on the Illini with an average of 4.4 rebounds and leads the team in steals, averaging 1.4 spg (sixth in Big Ten).
Frazier has scored in double figures in 11 games, led by a career-high 17 points vs. Savannah State (Nov. 21) and Michigan State (Jan. 30). He recorded his first career double-double vs. Florida A&M (Nov. 19) with 13 points and 10 assists.
Frazier had 10 points vs. Miami (OH) (Nov. 24), hitting a game-winning layup with 18 seconds left. He then recorded his second double-double vs. Bradley (Nov. 25) with 10 points and a career-high 11 assists. Frazier was named MVP of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
He had 11 points and four assists in 39 minutes of action vs. Arizona (Dec. 2) and then tied his career high with another 11-assist effort vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6).
Frazier scored 13 points on 4-6 shooting from 3-point range against Idaho State (Dec. 21) and had 11 in the Big Ten opener at Michigan (Jan. 3).
One of the toughest players to wear the Illini uniform in recent years, Frazier has battled through a number of injuries during his career. After starting the first 17 games this season, he was finally sidelined against Iowa (Jan. 10) due to a strained groin. He returned to the court against Michigan State on Jan. 10, scoring eight points and collecting four assists and a career-high four steals in 25 minutes of action.
Frazier had nine points and five boards vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20).
Frazier was questionable just minutes before Tuesday's game vs. Michigan State due to a turf toe injury, but came off the bench to tie his career-high with 17 points on 6-8 shooting. He also pulled down a game-high six rebounds in 26 minutes. Following that performance, he sat out Saturday's game vs. Minnesota due to the toe injury.
While continuing to rack up the assists, Frazier has also done a good job cutting down on his turnovers. After totaling 13 turnovers in the first two games (6.5 avg.), he has combined for just 48 turnovers over his past 21 games (2.3 avg.). He had only one turnover in 35 minutes vs. Bradley compared to 11 assists, and had just one turnover again vs. Maryland (Nov. 28).
More than any other player on the Illini roster, Frazier has stepped up his play after halftime. In the first half of games this season, he is averaging 2.3 points, 1.7 assists and 1.6 rebounds while shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 19.2 percent from 3-point range. But in the second half of games, Frazier is averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.
McBride's Experience an Asset
Senior Rich McBride started off slow after missing the season's first four games, but he has re-established himself as one of Illinois' top performers. McBride had a season-high 18 points vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6), hitting six 3-pointers, and had a team-high 13 points vs. UIC (Dec. 9).
After coming off the bench the previous two games, McBride returned to the starting lineup against Iowa on Jan. 10 and made his presence felt, scoring 15 points on a season-high five 3-pointers. He then had a team-high 12 points on four treys at Michigan State (Jan. 14).
McBride had nine points at Minnesota (Jan. 17), 15 points vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20), a game-high 15 points vs. Indiana (Jan. 23), nine points at Purdue (Jan. 30), 12 points vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30) and a team-high 13 points vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
McBride has been Illinois' most consistent player over the past eight games, averaging 12.5 points while shooting 41.5 percent from 3-point range (27-65).
McBride has started 17 of 21 games on the season and ranks third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.8 points. He ranks third in the Big Ten with an average of 2.6 three-pointers per game (55 total) and is also averaging 1.7 assists.
McBride is tied for sixth place in school history with 189 career 3-pointers. He needs two treys to tie Sean Harrington for fifth. At his current pace, McBride should end his career ranked fourth on the Illini all-time 3-pointers list.
Randle Battling Through Season of Adversity
After having groin surgery on Nov. 17 and missing nine games, Brian Randle returned to action against UIC on Dec. 9. He played 16 minutes off the bench and performed well, nearly registering a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
Randle scored 10 against both Belmont (Dec. 17) and Missouri (Dec. 19) and had 11 points vs. Idaho State on Dec. 21.
Randle had a break-out game against Iowa on Jan. 10. He tied his career high with 16 points on 7-9 shooting and dished out a career-high six assists. He had two dunks that brought the Assembly Hall crowd to its feet, one of which made Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays of the Day. It marked the third time of his career that a Randle dunk has appeared on ESPN's Top 10 list.
After scoring eight at Michigan State (Jan. 14), Randle was back in double figures with 12 points on 5-7 shooting at Minnesota (Jan. 17). He then had eight points vs. Wisconsin on Jan. 20.
Randle fought through pain in his foot (due to plantar fasciitis) during his last few appearances before returning to the sidelines and sitting out two games (Indiana, Jan. 23 and Purdue, Jan. 27).
He returned to action vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30), but was limited to just 20 minutes. He most recently had six points and a game-high eight rebounds vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
Over the last six games in which he has played, Randle is shooting 66.7 percent from the field (22-33), averaging 9.0 points (54).
Randle is averaging 8.1 points (sixth on team) and 4.6 rebounds (third on team) on the season and is shooting 54.4 percent from the field.
Smith Leads Illini Reserves
Sophomore sharpshooter Jamar Smith earned a reputation last season for providing instant offense in the Illini lineup. Smith, who earlier this season missed six games due to a high ankle sprain, has reached double figures in eight games and is fourth on the team in scoring with an average of 8.7 points.
Smith scored 19 points in just 21 minutes of action in the season opener vs. Austin Peay (Nov. 13), when he suffered the ankle injury and missed the remainder of the game. He returned to the court against Bradley (Nov. 25), scoring 14 points, but his mobility was limited the following game vs. Maryland. After sitting out the Arizona game, Smith came off the bench to tally 15 points vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6), connecting on all five 3-point attempts.
Smith scored 17 points in the win over Missouri (Dec. 19) and had a season-high 21 points vs. Idaho State (Dec. 21). He scored 16 points vs. Xavier (Dec. 29) and was Illinois' leading scorer for the third straight game with 17 points vs. Michigan (Jan. 3).
Smith reached double figures for the first time in nine games vs. Minnesota on Saturday, erupting for a team-high 13 points on 5-10 shooting, including 3-7 from 3-point range.
Smith has totaled 37 three-pointers this season (1.9 avg).
*For complete set of Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at top of this page.