Feb. 11, 2012
Following Thursday night's defeat at No. 23 Indiana, the Illini are on the road again Sunday, facing No. 22 Michigan in Ann Arbor. Illinois is playing back-to-back games that are both on the road against ranked opponents for the first time since the beginning of league play in 2008-09 when the Illini won at No. 9 Purdue (71-67, OT; Dec. 30, 2008), then fell at No. 23 Michigan (64-74; Jan. 4, 2009).
After facing an IU team with just one loss on its homecourt, the Illini now face a Wolverine squad that is undefeated at home on the season (13-0).
Illinois is 3-2 against ranked teams this year, owning victories over No. 19 Gonzaga, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State.
Illinois has dropped its last six road games against ranked teams and is looking for its first road win over a Top-25 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. 3.2 2.4 1.9 20.0 mpg
G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 12.5 2.9 2.0 38.7 3FG%
G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 15.0 5.0 3.2 1.5 spg
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 6.8 2.7 1.2 57.4 FG%
C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 13.5 7.8 1.3 2.1 bpg
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other
G 0 Sam Maniscalco 6-0 180 Gr. 7.2 2.1 2.4 82.1 FT%
F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 1.0 2.2 0.1 7.9 mpg
G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 Fr. 3.3 1.3 0.1 48.8 FG%
G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 Fr.
F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 250 Fr. 0.4 0.9 0.0 4.2 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. 4.9 3.4 0.5 30 off. reb.
G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 4 minutes
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 312-148/.678 (14th year)
At Illinois: 209-94/.690 (9th year)
Big Ten: 88-59/.599
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
Series Record: Illinois leads 85-72
Last Year's Meetings: ILL 54, MICH 52 (2/16/11 at Champaign); MICH 60, ILL 55 (3/11/11 at Indianapolis)
Series Streak: Michigan W-1
Record at Ann Arbor: Michigan leads 47-29
Series Streak at Ann Arbor: Illinois W-1
Weber vs. Michigan: 10-5
Illinois heads to Ann Arbor looking to end its two-game skid and return to .500 in Big Ten play. The Illini have lost three straight just seven times during Coach Bruce Weber's nine seasons in Champaign, with only one of those slides extending past three games.
Last Time Out
The Illini battled Indiana on the Hoosiers' homecourt before eventually dropping an 84-71 decision Thursday night. In a game that had 14 ties and six lead changes, Illinois was unable to overcome foul trouble and the Hoosiers' offensive production, both from the field and at the line.
Illinois committed 30 fouls and had three players foul out. That led to Indiana racking up 35 points on 42 attempts at the stripe. The 35 made free throws marked the most by an Illini opponent in a decade, since Purdue racked up 35 freebies on Jan. 9, 2002. And while Illinois topped 50 percent shooting for the second game in a row (52 percent), Indiana shot 50 percent en route to its 84 points, the most allowed by the Illini defense this season.
Illinois started strong behind Meyers Leonard's 15-first half points and trailed by just two at halftime. After the Hoosiers opened up an eight-point lead, the Illini cut it to three and nearly tied it on a D.J. Richardson 3-point attempt with 12:29 remaining. The bucket was waved off as Leonard was whistled for his fourth foul on a moving screen and went to the bench. The Hoosiers quickly extended the lead back to eight and the Illini could get no closer than six before the Hoosiers pulled away during the closing minutes.
Richardson led the Illini with 19 points and made a season-high five 3-pointers. Leonard finished with 17 points and Brandon Paul added 13 with five assists.
Leonard's Block Party
Meyers Leonard leads the Big Ten and ranks 13th in the NCAA in blocked shots on the season. His average of 2.1 blocks per game currently ranks second on the Illini single-season list behind the record of 3.0 bpg set by Derek Holcomb in 1979. Leonard's 51 blocks, meanwhile, stands sixth on the UI single-season chart. The Illini record is 86 rejections set by Holcomb in 1979.
Paul Near Top of Big Ten Scoring List
Brandon Paul is the Big Ten's third-leading scorer in conference action, averaging 19.4 points to stand just one-tenth of a point from the league lead. Paul has scored in double figures in all 11 Big Ten 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.
Two Illini Closing in on 1,000
A pair of Illini guards are rapidly approaching the 1,000-point club. Junior D.J. Richardson is Illinois' active career scoring leader with 962 points, just 38 away from becoming the 45th 1,000-point scorer in school history. Fellow junior Brandon Paul, meanwhile, is 15 points behind Richardson with 947 for his career, only 53 points shy of 1,000.
Illini Player Trends
Brandon Paul has scored in double figures in 13 straight games.
Paul has led the Illini in scoring in five of the last seven games, and he has been the team's top rebounder in five of the last eight games.
After scoring a season-low 4 points on just 2-of-7 shooting against Michigan State on Jan. 31, Meyers Leonard is averaging 20.0 points and shooting 77.3 percent over the last two games. Leonard scored 21 points - just one shy of his career best - on 10-of-12 shooting vs. Northwestern on Feb. 5, setting career highs for field goals (10) and field goal percentage (.833). He then had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting at Indiana on Thursday.
Leonard is averaging 3.0 blocked shots over the last four games (12) after totaling just one block in the four previous games combined.
D.J. Richardson led the Illini in scoring for the first time in 13 games with 19 points at Indiana on Thursday.
Richardson's 19 points at Indiana marked his second-highest scoring total in a Big Ten game (20 at Penn State on Jan. 12, 20100.
Richardson has combined for eight 3-pointers over the last two games after totaling six 3-pointers over the previous four games (Jan. 19-31).
Richardson has played 96.5 percent of available minutes over the last seven games (275 of 285).
Tracy Abrams is averaging 6.2 points (31) on 52.4 percent shooting (11-21) over the last five games. On the season, Abrams averages 3.2 points and is a 38.6 percent shooter.
Abrams dished out a career-high eight assists vs. Northwestern on Feb. 5, the most by an Illini this season.
Myke Henry scored eight points in 20 minutes off the bench against Indiana on Thursday, his highest point total in 18 games.
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). Gardner-Webb is the only team in the nation that has played more games this season decided by five or less:
Louisiana Tech 12
Illinois recently had eight straight games decided by five points or less (Jan. 4-Feb. 5). That was the UI's longest streak of 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 was the nation's longest streak this season:
Louisiana Tech 6
San Diego State 6
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.
Looking Back at Last Year's Michigan Games:
Illinois 54, Michigan 52 // Feb. 16, 2011 at Champaign
Illinois extended its longest active homecourt winning streak over a Big Ten team, defeating Michigan for the 13th consecutive time at the Assembly Hall. The Illini used an 11-3 spurt over the final 6:30 of the first half to take a 32-22 lead into the locker room. The UI lead was nine with 10:30 left when the Wolverines went on a 10-2 run to make it a one-point game with eight minutes remaining. Mike Davis scored his biggest basket of the night with 3:19 left, giving the Illini a 53-50 lead. Following a UM basket with 16 seconds left, Bill Cole made one free throw to put the Illini up by two. Michigan's Evan Smotrycz attempted a 3-pointer for the win, but missed, and Stu Douglass' follow-up 20-footer bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
Demetri McCamey scored a game-high 18 points and hit 4-of-8 from 3-point range to lead the Illini, while Mike Tisdale added 12 points off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting.
Michigan 60, Illinois 55 // March 11, 2011 at Indianapolis
Illinois was unable to advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinal round for just the second time in the event's 14-year history, suffering another close loss - this time by five points - against Michigan in quarterfinal action. The Illini led by 11 at halftime and held a 51-39 lead with 8:30 remaining. But the Wolverines hit six of their last seven shots and outscored the Orange and Blue 21-to-4 during the final eight minutes to record the comeback win.
Demetri McCamey, Mike Tisdale and Brandon Paul led the way with 10 points apiece while Paul had a solid all-around performance, also tallying six rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals.
Current Illini vs. Michigan
Brandon Paul (3 G): 6.7 ppg (20), 4.0 rpg (12)
Highlights: 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and career-high five steals last year in Big Ten Tournament ... Five points and four assists last year in Champaign ... Five points and four rebounds in 2010 in Ann Arbor.
D.J. Richardson (3 G): 4.0 ppg (12), 2.0 rpg (6)
Highlights: Four assists last year in Champaign ... Eight points and five rebounds in 2010 in Ann Arbor.
Tyler Griffey (1 G): 2 pts, 1 reb (2010 in Ann Arbor)
Meyers Leonard (2 G): 0.0 ppg (0), 2.5 rpg (5)
Highlight: Five rebounds last year in Champaign.
Five on the Starting Five
1. Leads Illini in scoring on the season (15.0 ppg) and ranks third in Big Ten in scoring during league play (19.4 ppg).
2. Scored in double figures in 17 of the last 18 games, including each of the last 13. Averaging 19.0 points (247) and 5.8 rebounds (75) over the last 13 games.
3. Leads Illini in assists with 3.2 average.
4. Scored career-high 43 points Jan. 10 vs. Ohio State.
5. Has made 133 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (171 FTA).
1. Leads the Illini and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.8 rpg), and is second on the team in scoring (13.5 ppg).
2. First in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.1 bpg (51). On pace to have the second-best single-season average in school history.
3. Third in the Big Ten and 13th in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 58.7 percent (128-218).
4. Seven double-doubles on the season, ranking third among Big Ten players.
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.4 points (2.1 ppg last year), the second-best improvement in the Big Ten behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (+12.0 ppg).
1. Third on team in scoring with an average of 12.5 points.
2. Leads Illini in 3-point shooting at 38.7 percent (58-150).
3. Average of 2.4 threes per game ranks third in Big Ten.
4. 38 points away from reaching 1,000 for his career.
5. Despite playing nearly 85 percent of available minutes, has a turnover rate of only 13 percent.
1. Fourth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting during conference play at 57.3 percent (47-82).
2. Averaging 9.5 points in Big Ten play, 2.7 points better than his all-games average of 6.8 points.
3. Scored 12 points Feb. 5 vs. Northwestern, making first two 3-pointers of his career.
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).
1. Started last nine games after starting first two games of his career.
2. Dished out career-high eight assists Feb. 5 vs. Northwestern, most by an Illini this season.
3. Scored eight points Thursday at Indiana.
4. Averaging 6.2 points (31) on 52.4 percent shooting (11-21) over the last five games.
5. First Illini true-freshman point guard to start first career game since Dee Brown in 2002-03.