Men's Basketball
Game 25 Notes & Links: Illinois at #18 Minnesota

D.J. Richardson came up big with 23 points in Thursday's win over No. 1 Indiana.
D.J. Richardson came up big with 23 points in Thursday's win over No. 1 Indiana.

Feb. 9, 2013

 Game 25: Illinois (16-8, 3-7) at #18/18 Minnesota (17-6, 5-5)
 When Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 | 5 p.m. CT
 Location Minneapolis, Minn. | Williams Arena (14,625)
 Tickets Buy Online or call 612-625-6562
 Television BTN | (Kevin Kugler, PBP & Eddie Johnson, analyst)
 Radio Illini Sports Network | Listen | Sirius 93 / XM 190
 Live Coverage GameTracker
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Minnesota | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Minnesota | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Groce Teleconference | Brandon Paul | D.J. Richardson | Tyler Griffey
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  #Illini   | Facebook | YouTube

 Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 So. 11.0 3.5 3.3 Had 14 pts. (5-9 FG) on 1/9 vs. Gophers
G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Sr. 12.3 4.4 1.7 Scored 8 pts. in final 3 mins of IU win
G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Sr. 17.6 4.5 2.9 Needs 10 pts for top 10 on UI scoring list
F 0 Sam McLaurin 6-8 220 Gr. 4.1 3.5 0.5 Leads team in Off. Rebounds (56)
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 235 So. 6.5 4.8 0.6 Leads team in rebs. & blocks
 Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 195 r-Jr. 8.7 4.5 0.6 SH 17 pts last Sunday vs. Badgers
G 10 Mike LaTulip 6-0 165 Fr. 1.4 0.1 0.0 Walk-on has 19 pts in 33 mins
F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 215 So. 1.0 0.6 0.2 Played season-high 19 mins at Wis.
G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 So. 3.3 1.9 0.1 Scored season-high 11 pts at MSU on 1/31
G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 r-Fr. 0.6 0.9 0.2 4-9 field goals this season
F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 245 So. 0.0 0.1 0.0 15 minutes played this season
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 240 Jr. - - - Sitting out season due to transfer rules
G 31 Kevin Berardini 6-0 165 r-Jr. 0.7 0.3 0.3 5 points in 8 minutes played
F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-9 220 Sr. 7.0 3.3 0.6 2 walk-off shots this year (G-Webb & IND)

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 101-64/.612 (5th year)
At Illinois: 16-8/.667 (1st year)
Big Ten: 3-7/.300
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. Minnesota
Series Record: Illinois leads 116-64
Series Streak: Minnesota W-2
Record at Minneapolis: Minnesota leads 45-42
Series Streak at Minneapolis: Minnesota W-1
Last Meeting: #8/10 Minnesota 84, #12/13 Illinois 67 (1/9/13 in Champaign)
Groce vs. Minnesota: 0-1

For Openers:
• Fresh off its buzzer-beating win over No. 1 Indiana on Thursday night, Illinois plays at No. 18 Minnesota on Sunday to wrap up a stretch of four top-18 ranked opponents in five games.
• Illinois' win over the Hoosiers on Thursday was its third all-time over a No. 1-ranked team. The Illini's previous two victories over No. 1 came against Michigan State (Jan. 11, 1979) and Wake Forest (Dec. 1, 2004).
• Illinois is the only team in the nation with three wins over teams in the current AP Top 10.
• The Illini have defeated a total of four opponents featured in the current AP Top 25, tied with Michigan and Indiana for the most of any team in the country.
• Illinois has played seven RPI Top 25 opponents this season - the most of any team in the nation - and will face its eighth on Sunday at Minnesota. Illinois is currently 4-3 vs. the RPI Top 25.
• Illinois is one victory away from matching its win total from last season.
• Illinois' win over No. 1 Indiana was its third victory of the season over a top-10 team, following wins over then-No. 10 Gonzaga and then-No. 8 Ohio State. This is the seventh different Illini team in school history to beat at least three top-10 opponents, and the first since the 2004-05 UI squad did so with victories over No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 9 Arizona and No. 4 Louisville.
• Illinois is facing ranked Big Ten opponents in back-to-back games for the third time this season. The last time the Illini defeated ranked conference foes in back-to-back games was in 2010, a 78-73 home win over No. 5 Michigan State (Feb. 6) followed by a 63-56 win at No. 11 Wisconsin (Feb. 9).
• Illinois has lost its last 10 road games against ranked Big Ten opponents. The UI's last road win in league play was the aforementioned victory in 2010 at No. 11 Wisconsin.
• Illinois is trying to win consecutive games since it won 12 straight to open the season.
• Illinois totaled 74 points in the victory over Indiana, topping 70 for the 15th time on the season after doing so just 10 times in 32 games last year. The Illini are now 13-2 on the year when reaching the 70-point marker.
• Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 18 of 24 games. The Illini average 17.4 points off turnovers and own a margin of +5.7 points per game in that category on the season. This statistic played a major role in Thursday's win, as the Illini racked up 28 points off 14 Indiana turnovers.
• Illinois is 12-1 on the season when shooting better than its opponent.
• A different player has led the Illini in scoring in each of the last four games.
Brandon Paul is nine points away from moving into 10th place on the Illini career scoring list.
• Paul has scored at least 13 points in all but one game this season and has been the UI's leading scorer in 17 of 24 games.
D.J. Richardson has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games, averaging 15.8 points (126).
• Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 24 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 30 straight games with at least one trey.
• Illinois is shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from 3-point range in its 11 games away from home, an increase over the UI's 42.3 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range in its 13 games at Assembly Hall.
• Illinois averages 76.4 points on 45.7 percent shooting and 37.1 percent 3-point shooting in its 16 wins, compared to averaging 63.6 points on 38 percent shooting and 23.9 percent 3-point shooting in its eight losses.

Last Time Out: Griffey's Buzzer Beater Takes Down No. 1 Indiana - Feb. 7
In one of the most thrilling comebacks of the college basketball season, Illinois knocked off the No. 1 team in the country for the third time in school history with a 74-72 victory over top-ranked Indiana on Thursday. The Hoosiers showed why they carried the No. 1 billing, running efficient offense throughout the game and answering every run the Illini made. Indiana broke ahead from a 13-all tie at the 10-minute mark of the first half and maintained its lead from that point until the end. Illinois trailed by as many as 14 points on three occasions and still trailed 70-61 with 3:33 remaining.

That's when Illinois made its charge, closing the game on a 13-2 run. After a Brandon Paul free throw cut it to eight, D.J. Richardson rattled off eight straight points on a pair of 3-pointers and a step-back 19-footer that tied the game at 70 with 1:19 left. Victor Oladipo put Indiana back up by two with a layup, the Hoosiers' only basket in the game's final five minutes. Paul then hit a pair of free throws to tie it at 72 and set up the exciting final series. Indiana held for the last shot, but Oladipo lost control of the ball and Richardson picked it up and raced down court and attempted a layup that Oladipo blocked out of bounds.

The Illini were out of timeouts with only nine-tenths of a second remaining. Paul was the inbounder and he took his time surveying the court before Tyler Griffey broke free cutting toward the basket. Paul threw a bounce pass into the empty lane where Griffey caught it in stride and made the uncontested layup. The horn sounded as the ball went through the net, and the Orange Krush poured onto the court to celebrate.

Notes From the Historic Win Over Indiana
• This was Illinois' third win in school history over a No. 1-ranked team. All three wins have come at the Assembly Hall. The Illini are now 3-20 all-time against the No. 1 team in the AP poll.
• Illinois now has three victories over top-10 teams, tying the third-most single-season wins over top-10 opponents in school history.
• Illinois now has two wins over top-10 Big Ten teams, accomplishing the feat for the second straight season and just the fifth time in school history.
Tyler Griffey's buzzer-beating layup was his second game winner of the season at the Assembly Hall. He nailed a 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left as the Illini defeated Gardner-Webb, 63-62, on Nov. 25.
• Griffey totaled 14 points, which equaled his second-highest output this year and best in Big Ten play.
D.J. Richardson finished with a game-high 23 points, the second-best performance of his career.
Brandon Paul tallied his ninth 20-point game this season, finishing with 21 points.
• The Illini senior class of Richardson, Paul, Griffey and Sam McLaurin combined for 85.1 percent of the UI's scoring in the win, totaling 63 points. That is their highest combined total in a game this season. Their previous high was 56 points in the win over USC (Nov. 19).
• The trio of Richardson, Paul and Griffey, meanwhile, combined for 58 points on the night, the highest combined total of their four-year careers. Their previous best was 53 points last season in the win over Ohio State (Jan. 10, 2012).
• Richardson (23) and Paul (21) topped the 20-point mark in the same game for the first time in their career.
• Illinois trailed by as many as 14 points and faced a 41-29 deficit at the half, overcoming their second-largest halftime deficit (12) of the season. The Orange and Blue trailed by 13 at intermission in their last-second overtime win against Hawaii (Nov. 16).
• This was the second time in Indiana's last three trips to Champaign that the Illini won on a buzzer beater. Former Illini point guard Demetri McCamey hit a runner just outside the lane as the game clock expired to knock off the Hoosiers, 72-70, on Jan. 30, 2010.
• Illinois beat Indiana in Champaign for the 10th time in the last 11 games, and evened the all-time series with the Hoosiers at 84 wins apiece.

The Last Meeting
January 9, 2013
Assembly Hall
No. 12 Illini Slip to No. 8 Gophers, 84-67
Brandon Paul scored 21 points in Illinois' 84-67 loss to No. 8 Minnesota Wednesday night at Assembly Hall.
Highlights | Box Score | Printable Box | Notes | Photos | Postgame Presser | BP3 Dunk |

Looking Back at the Last Minnesota Game:

• #28/10 Minnesota 84, #12/13 Illinois 67 // Jan. 9, 2013 at Champaign
No. 8 Minnesota became the first road team to earn a victory in the Assembly Hall this season, defeating the No. 12 Illini, 84-67. The Illini trailed by 12 points early in the second half before going on a 10-0 run to bring the home crowd to its feet and close to within 44-42. But the Gophers capitalized on UI turnovers on the next two possessions, rattling off seven unanswered points in just 26 seconds to open up a nine-point advantage. The Illini then closed to within four at 51-47, but Minnesota added another quick 7-0 run to take an 11-point lead with eight minutes remaining. The Illini got no closer than nine the rest of the way.

Illinois shot just 35.4 percent (23-65) and a season-low 12.5 percent from 3-point range, connecting on just 3-of-24 from behind the arc. The Gophers, meanwhile, hit at a 52.9 percent clip (27-51), including 60 percent form 3-point land (9-15).

Brandon Paul led the Illini with 21 points, while D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams added 14 point each.


Looking Back at the Last Road Game Versus Minnesota:

• Minnesota 77, Illinois 72 (OT) // Jan. 28 at Minneapolis
Illinois dropped a heartbreaker in Minneapolis, falling to the Gophers in overtime. 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.

Five Key Facts On ...

Brandon Paul
1. Big Ten's No. 3 leading scorer with an average of 17.6 points.
2. Has scored at least 13 points in all but one game this season, with nine 20-plus point performances.
3. Second among Big Ten players in free throw makes (111), and attempts (153), behind Indiana's Cody Zeller.
4. Seventh among Big Ten players in 3-point field goals with an average of 2.2 makes per game.
5. Seven off the team lead in rebounds (4.5 rpg), challenging to become the first UI player to lead the Illini in both scoring and rebounding in a single season since Shaun Pruitt in 2008.

D.J. Richardson
1. Second on the Illini in scoring with an average of 12.3 points.
2. Scored a career-high 30 points at Nebraska (Jan. 22), and had 23 points Thursday vs. Indiana.
3. Carries a career-long active streak of 30 straight games making at least one 3-pointer, the longest by a player from a BCS conference.
4. Fourth 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 252.
5. Has started 120 career games, tied for fourth on the UI's all-time starts list.

Tracy Abrams
1. Third Illini scoring in double figures with an average of 11.0 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 6.7 points (4.3 last year).
3. Scored in double figures in eight of the last 11 games, led by career-high 27 points vs. Auburn (Dec. 29).
4. Leads the team and ranks 11th in the Big Ten in assists (3.3 apg).
5. Shooting nearly percent on 2-pointers this season (75-151).

Joseph Bertrand
1. Illini sixth-man is team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 8.7 points.
2. Ranks seventh in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 52.6 percent (82-156).
3. Scored in double figures nine times off the bench, led by season-high 17 points vs. Wisconsin (Feb. 3).
4. Tied for second on the team in rebounding (4.5 rpg).
5. Shooting nearly 35 percent from 3-point range, making 15-of-43, after going just 3-of-11 from behind the arc through his first two seasons combined.

Tyler Griffey
1. Fifth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 7.0 points.
2. Has made two game-winners at the buzzer at the Assembly Hall, a layup vs. Indiana (Feb. 7) and a three-pointer vs. Gardner-Webb (Nov. 25).
3. Grabbed season-high eight rebounds vs. Indiana (Feb. 7).
4. Has made 26 three-pointers this season after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last year.
5. More than half of his field goal attempts have been from 3-point range (79 of 146).

Nnanna Egwu
1. Started all 24 games and is averaging 24.8 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 6.5 points and leads team with average of 4.8 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. Scored 14 points vs. Wisconsin (Feb. 3), the second-highest total of his career.
5. Grabbed career-best 10 boards at Nebraska (Jan. 22) and vs. Michigan (Jan. 27).

Sam McLaurin
1. Fifth-year transfer is playing 21.1 minutes per game.
2. Averaging 5.7 points (34) and 3.7 rebounds (22) as a starter the last six games.
3. Leads team and ranks 10th in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, averaging 2.3 per game.
4. Tied season high in scoring in three recent games with seven points apiece at Nebraska (Jan. 22), vs. Michigan (Jan. 27) and at Michigan State (Jan. 31).
5. Third on the team with 16 blocked shots.

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.

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.

Complete Illinois-Michigan Game Notes (PDF)