Men's Basketball
Men's Basketball Game Notes at #23/23 Indiana

 
Tracy Abrams and the Illini have won 5 of the last 6 against the Hoosiers.
Tracy Abrams and the Illini have won 5 of the last 6 against the Hoosiers.
 

Feb. 8, 2012

 Game 24: Illinois (16-7, 5-5) at No. 23/23 Indiana (18-6, 6-6)
 Date Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012
 Time 8 p.m. ET/7 CT
 Location Bloomington, Ind. | Assembly Hall (17,472)
 Television BTN (Gus Johnson & Jim Jackson) | Watch
 Radio Illini Sports Network | Affiliates | Listen | Sirius 94/XM 192
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Game Notes Illinois | Indiana | Big Ten
 Statistics Illinois | Indiana
 Preview Interviews Joseph Bertrand | Meyers Leonard | Brandon Paul
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  Facebook

Opening Tip
Illinois enters a tough stretch with four of its next five games on the road, beginning Thursday night at Indiana. Four of Illinois' five remaining road games are against ranked opponents, leading off with the 23rd-ranked Hoosiers. The combined homecourt record of three of Illinois' next four road opponents (Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State) is 43-1, starting with the Hoosiers' 13-1 mark this season in Bloomington.

Illinois is 3-1 against ranked teams this season, owning victories over No. 19 Gonzaga, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State. The Illini's lone loss to a ranked team was a four-point setback against No. 4 Missouri.

Illinois has dropped its last five road games against ranked teams and is looking for its first road win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 11 Wisconsin, 63-56, on Feb. 9, 2010.

Probable Starters (from the previous game)

Pos.	No.	Name    	Ht.	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	13 	Tracy Abrams 	6-1	185	Fr.	3.0	2.4	1.9	19.6 mpg
G	1	D.J. Richardson	6-3	195	Jr.	12.2	2.9	2.0	37.9  3FG%
G	3	Brandon Paul	6-4	200	Jr.	15.1	5.0	3.1	1.6 spg
G	2	Joseph Bertrand	6-5	195	r-So.	7.0	2.7	1.2	58.0  FG%
C	12	Meyers Leonard	7-1	245	So.	13.3	8.0	1.2	2.1 bpg

Off the Bench

Pos.	No.	Name    	Ht. 	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	0	Sam Maniscalco	6-0	180	Gr.	7.6	2.1	2.5	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	1.3	0.1 	45.9  FG%
G/F	21	Devin Langford	6-7	200	Fr.
F/C	23	Ibby Djimde	6-8	250	Fr.	0.4	1.0	0.0	4.4 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.	1.9	1.6	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: 312-147/.680 (14th year)
At Illinois: 209-93/.692 (9th year)
Big Ten: 88-58/.603
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. Indiana
Series Record: Tied, 83-83
Last Year's Meetings: ILL 72, IU 48 (3/5/11 at Champaign); IU 52, ILL 49 (1/27/11 at Bloomington)
Series Streak: Illinois W-1
Record at Bloomington: Indiana leads 51-29
Series Streak at Bloomington: Indiana W-1
Weber vs. Indiana at Illinois: 11-5
Weber vs. Indiana All-Time: 12-6

Illinois-Indiana Series Notes
• Illinois has won five of the last six games against Indiana, and 13 of the last 18 dating back to Feb. 25, 2003.
• Illinois is 3-4 in Bloomington under Bruce Weber. The four losses have been by a total of 13 points (3.3 avg).
• Illinois has lost its last four games in Bloomington when playing against a ranked Indiana team. The Orange and Blue's last road win over a Top-25 IU squad was on Feb. 2, 1997, when the Illini defeated the 17th-ranked Hoosiers, 78-74.
• Indiana held a 73-62 lead in the series with Illinois through 1996. But the Illini have won 21 of 31 games spanning the last 15 seasons to tie it at 83-all entering Thursday's contest. Illinois is attempting to take the lead in the all-time series for the first time in 37 years, when Illinois held a 47-46 advantage over IU following the 1975 season.
• A win over Indiana would give the Illini an all-time winning record vs. every other Big Ten team except Purdue.

Paul Tops Big Ten Scoring List
Brandon Paul is the Big Ten's leading scorer in conference action, averaging 20.0 points in league play. He has scored in double figures in all 10 league games, with five outings of 20 or more points.

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.

Illini Player Trends
Brandon Paul had 22 points vs. Northwestern on Sunday and has now registered 20+ points in four of the last six games.
• Paul combined for 12 three-pointers over a recent two-game stretch (Jan. 10-19). After making a total of just two treys over the next three games combined (Jan. 22-31), Paul nailed six triples against Northwestern.
• Paul had four assists with only one turnover vs. Northwestern, his second-best assist-to-turnover ratio of the season (6 assists / 0 turnovers vs. Illinois State).
• Paul has led the Illini in scoring in five of the last six games, and he has been the team's top rebounder in four of the last seven games.
• Paul has played 94.2 percent of available minutes in Big Ten play (391 of 415), including 98.4 percent over the last three games (123 of 125).
• After scoring a season-low 4 points on just 2-of-7 shooting against Michigan State last Tuesday, Meyers Leonard bounced back with a great effort against Northwestern on Sunday. He scored 21 points - just one shy of his career best - on 10-of-12 shooting to set career highs for field goals (10) and field goal percentage (.833).
• Leonard is averaging 3.0 blocked shots over the last three games (9) after totaling just one block in the four previous games combined.
Joseph Bertrand scored in double figures for the second time in five games on Sunday, registering 12 points vs. Northwestern, including the first two 3-pointers of his career. Prior to this five-game stretch, Bertrand had reached double figures in five of the previous six games.
Tracy Abrams dished out a career-high eight assists vs. Northwestern on Sunday, the most by an Illini this season.
• Abrams is averaging 5.8 points (23) on 53.3 percent shooting (8-15) over the last four games. On the season, Abrams averages 3.0 points and is a 37.5 percent shooter.
• Richardson knocked down three 3-pointers vs. Northwestern on Sunday, the most since he also had three treys against Ohio State on Jan. 10.
D.J. Richardson has played 96.3 percent of available minutes over the last six games (236 of 245).

Last Time Out
Illinois had one of its best offensive performances of the season on Sunday. Unfortunately, Northwestern's offense was even better as NU defeated the Illini 74-70 at the Assembly Hall to earn its first victory in Champaign since 1999. The Illini shot 54.2 percent from the field and tied a season-high with 11 three-pointers. But the Wildcats countered with 60.4 percent accuracy, the best by a UI opponent on the season, including 14-of-21 shooting in the second half (66.7 percent).

Brandon Paul led the Illini with 22 points and hit six 3-pointers while Meyers Leonard scored 21 - one shy of his career high - and grabbed a game-high nine boards.

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 12 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). Illinois is tied for the national lead this season with 12 games decided by five or less:

Illinois	12
Delaware	12
Gardner-Webb	12
Louisiana Tech	12
Florida Int'l	11
Idaho   	11
Samford  	11
Tulsa   	11
UIC     	11

Each of Illinois' last eight games has been decided by five points or less. That is the UI's longest streak in the modern era and its longest in 83 years, since the Illini also had eight straight games decided by five or less during Big Ten play in 1929. It also is the nation's longest streak this season:

Illinois	8 (active)
Columbia	7 (active)
Louisiana Tech	6
San Diego State	6
Cincinnati	5
Columbia	5
Delaware	5
Quinnipiac	5
Southern Miss	5

Overall, the Illini are 11-5 in games decided by single digits and 7-5 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' seven victories by five points or less are the most in a season under Weber, and the most since the 1998-99 Illini won eight in that fashion. Following is a year-by-year look at the Illini in games decided by five points or less under Weber:

Season	Record
2011-12	7-5
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

Looking Back at Last Year's Indiana Games:

• Indiana 52, #20/21 Illinois 49 // Jan. 27, 2011 // Bloomington
Illinois saw its four-game winning streak against Indiana come to an end. Illinois led by four early in the second half but then went 7:41 without a field goal. During that time, the Hoosiers outscored the Illini 11-4 to take a 43-40 lead. But the Illini responded, and with the game tied at 46, Brandon Paul hit a 3-pointer out of a timeout to put Illinois ahead 49-46 with 2:44 remaining. The Illini would not score again, however. The Hoosiers scored the game's final six points on a pair of free throws by Christian Watford to cut the deficit to one, a tip-in by Tom Pritchard with 38 seconds left to give the Hoosiers the lead, and two more free throws by Jordan Hulls with 12 seconds remaining to make the final margin three points.

Illinois could not overcome 32.2 percent shooting, which included just 5-of-20 from 3-point range. And while the Illini grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, the Orange and Blue could only garner a 10-to-9 advantage in second-chance points. Mike Davis led the Illini with 14 points.

• Illinois 72, Indiana 48 // March 5, 2011 // Champaign
Illinois' seniors went out in style on Senior Day at the Assembly Hall in a 24-point victory over Indiana, the Hoosiers' largest defeat of the season. The Illini jumped out to a 16-7 lead six minutes in as Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis accounted for the UI's first 16 points, scoring eight apiece. The Orange and Blue never looked back, building the lead to as many as 23 points in the first half, and 29 midway through the second half.

Seniors McCamey, Davis, Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole combined for 50 of Illinois' 72 points, led by McCamey's game-high 22.

Taking Down Another Top-10 Foe
Illinois defeated No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday night, earning its second Top-10 win of the season. The Illini previously knocked off No. 5 Ohio State on Jan. 10. Illinois sits in rare company with at least two wins over Top-10 ranked opponents, one of nine programs to accomplish the feat this season. The Illini are one of just three teams to notch two Top-10 wins in conference play, along with Florida State and Missouri:

Teams With Multiple Wins Over Top-10 Ranked Opponents
Florida State - def. No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Duke
Georgetown - def. No. 4 Louisville, No. 8 Memphis
Illinois - def. No. 5 Ohio State, No. 9 Michigan State
Indiana - def. No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Ohio State
Kansas - def. No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Baylor
Kentucky - def. No. 4 Louisville, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 8 Florida
Michigan - def. No. 8 Memphis, No. 9 Michigan State
Missouri - def. No. 3 Baylor, No. 8 Kansas
Ohio State - def. No. 4 Duke, No. 8 Florida, No. 8 Indiana

Five on the Starting Five

Brandon Paul
1. Leads Illini in scoring on the season (15.1 ppg) and leads Big Ten in scoring during league play (20.0 ppg).
2. Scored in double figures in 16 of the last 17 games, including each of the last 12. Averaging 19.5 points (234) and 6.0 rebounds (72) over the last 12 games.
3. Leads Illini in assists with 3.1 average.
4. Scored career-high 43 points Jan. 10 vs. Ohio State (see box on page 5 for more details).
5. Has made 127 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (163 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 (13.3 ppg).
2. First in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.1 bpg (48). On pace to have the second-best single-season average in school history.
3. Seven double-doubles on the season, ranking third among Big Ten players.
4. Third in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 58.2 percent (121-208).
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.2 points (2.1 ppg last year), the second-best improvement in the Big Ten behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (+12.0 ppg).

D.J. Richardson
1. Third on team in scoring with an average of 12.2 points.
2. Leads Illini in 3-point shooting at 38.4 percent (53-138).
3. Average of 2.3 threes per game ranks third in Big Ten.
4. 57 points away from reaching 1,000 for his career.
5. Despite playing more than 84 percent of available minutes, has a turnover rate of only 13 percent.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Averaging 11.1 points (122) on 62.5 percent shooting (55-88) over the last 11 games, scoring in double figures seven times.
2. Fourth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 58 percent (69-119).
3. Averaging 10.3 points in Big Ten play, 3.3 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, first eight vs. Nebraska) after making 13 consecutive shots over two-game stretch the last week of December (all nine vs. Missouri, first four vs. Minnesota).

Tracy Abrams
1. Started last eight games after starting first two games of his career.
2. Dished out career-high eight assists Sunday vs. Northwestern, most by an Illini this season.
3. Averaging 5.8 points (23) on 57.1 percent shooting (8-14) over the last four games.
4. Scored career-high nine points Jan. 22 vs. Wisconsin.
5. First Illini true-freshman point guard to start first career game since Dee Brown in 2002-03.

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