Series Notes vs. Purdue Series Record: Purdue leads 96-84 Series Streak: Purdue W-8 Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 54-34 Series Streak at Champaign: Purdue W-3 Last Meeting: Purdue 68, #11/14 Illinois 61 (Jan. 2, 2013 at West Lafayette) Groce vs. Purdue: 0-1
The Illini wrap up a stretch of three games in seven games, hosting Purdue on Wednesday night.
Illinois won its 17th game on Sunday at Minnesota, matching its victory total from all of last season.
Illinois has five victories against the RPI Top 25. That is tied with Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin for the second-highest total nationally. Only Kansas (6) has more RPI Top 25 wins.
Illinois has played eight RPI Top 25 opponents this season - tied with Kansas for the second most of any team in the nation. Only Wisconsin (9) has played more games against the RPI Top 25.
The Illini have defeated a total of four opponents featured in the current AP Top 25, tied with Indiana and Louisville for the most of any team in the country.
Illinois just concluded a run of playing four ranked opponents in five games, going 2-3 over that stretch. The victories came in the two most recent games over No. 1 Indiana and then-No. 18 Minnesota.
With wins over the No. 1 Hoosiers and No. 18 Gophers, the Illini defeated ranked conference foes in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2010 season; a 78-73 home win over No. 5 Michigan State (Feb. 6) followed by a 63-56 win at No. 11 Wisconsin (Feb. 9).
The win at Minnesota snapped an 11-game road losing streak against ranked Big Ten opponents. The UI's last road win in league play prior to Sunday was the aforementioned victory in 2010 at No. 11 Wisconsin.
Illinois' win over the Hoosiers 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' 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 trying to win three consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since Jan. 4-10 last season.
Illinois overcame a 12-point deficit to defeat Minnesota, the UI's fourth victory of the season after trailing by double figures.
Sunday marked the first time this season Illinois has won while scoring in the 50s. Illinois' previous scoring low in a win was a 63-62 victory over Gardner-Webb on Nov. 25.
The Gophers totaled just 53 points against Illinois on Sunday. The Illini have now held their opponent to less than 60 points in three of four conference wins this season (Ohio State-55, Nebraska-51, Minnesota-53).
Illinois made 11 three-pointers at Minnesota, its highest total in Big Ten play and most since making 11 at Gonzaga. Illinois has now made at least nine 3-pointers in three of the last four games.
Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 19 of 25 games. The Illini average 17.2 points off turnovers and own a margin of +5.5 points per game in that category on 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 13-2 on the year when reaching the 70-point marker.
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 five games.
Brandon Paul has scored at least 13 points in all but two games this season and has been the UI's leading scorer in 17 of 25 games.
D.J. Richardson has scored in double figures in each of the last six games, averaging 17.0 points over that stretch (102). He is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range over the last six games (20-44) after shooting 21.6 percent from behind the arc over the previous eight games (11-51).
Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 25 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 31 straight games with at least one trey.
Tyler Griffey has averaged 15.0 points over the last two games, shooting 6-of-13 from 3-point range. This followed a stretch where Griffey totaled 18 points over the previous eight games, going 0-for-20 from behind the arc.
Tracy Abrams has combined for a total of nine assists with only one turnover over the last two games.
Illinois averages 75.3 points on 45.2 percent shooting and 37.7 percent 3-point shooting in its 17 wins, compared to averaging 63.6 points on 38 percent shooting and 23.9 percent 3-point shooting in its eight losses.
Illinois is shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from 3-point range in its 12 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.
Richardson Named Big Ten Player of the Week D.J. Richardson is the reigning Big Ten co-Player of Week after leading the Fighting Illini to a pair of wins over Top 20 teams. He shares the honor with Wisconsin's Ben Brust.
Richardson had a game-high 23 points against top-ranked Indiana, including 15 in the second half as the Illini erased a 14-point deficit to knock off No. 1 for just the third time in school history. With the Illini trailing 70-62 with under four minutes to play, Richardson scored eight consecutive points in just over two minutes to tie the game at 70 and then stole the ball from Indiana's Victor Oladipo with five seconds left to set the stage for Tyler Griffey's heroics in the final seconds.
The Peoria, Ill., native then had 13 points at No. 18 Minnesota as the Illini defeated their second straight Top 20 opponent. For the week, Richardson averaged 18.0 points and 2.5 steals per game and shot 50 percent from the field (12-of-24) and 54 percent from behind the arc (7-of-13).
This is the first career Big Ten Player of the Week honor for Richardson and the third for an Illini this season. Brandon Paul was named Big Ten and National Player of the Week on Dec. 10 after his 35-point performance in a win at Gonzaga and Tracy Abrams took home conference honors on Dec. 31 following his 27-point game in the victory over Auburn at the United Center.
Social Media Ticket Special
The Illinois ticket office is offering special $15 tickets for Wednesday night's home game against Purdue through its social media platforms. By using the promo code 'SOCIAL' from the ticket link at either the Fighting Illini Basketball facebook page or from the @IlliniHoops twitter account, Illini fans have an opportunity to purchase the discounted tickets for the Purdue game.
Three-Game Mini-Pack 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.
Tal Brody Joins Honored Jerseys
Tal Brody will be honored tonight at halftime when he raises his banner to the Assembly Hall rafters. Brody's number 12 joins the Illini Basketball Honored Jerseys, where it will be displayed permanently in recognition of his impact at Illinois and on the international game of basketball.
Brody was the point guard on the Illini's 1963 Big Ten championship squad and was a three-year starter through the 1965 season. He ranks among the top 40 scorers in Illinois history with 1,121 points. After being selected 12th overall in the 1965 NBA Draft, he traveled to Israel, where he led the U.S. basketball team to a gold medal in the 1965 Maccabiah Games. Brody then began a long professional career in Israel. It culminated in 1977 when he led Israel to the European Cup Basketball championship, including a win over the heavily favored Soviet Red Army. In 1979, he was awarded the country's highest civilian honor, the Israel Prize.
Brody currently serves as the international Goodwill Ambassador for Israel.
Recognizing the 1963 Big Ten Champs
The University of Illinois will recognize the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Fighting Illini Big Ten Championship team at halftime of Wednesday night's game. Coach Harry Combes '63 Illini squad went 20-6 overall and 11-3 in the conference, advancing to the NCAA Regional Finals and ending the season ranked eighth in the final AP poll. Members of the squad scheduled to be at the Assembly Hall for the 50th reunion celebration are Tal Brody, Dave Downey, Skip Thoren, Bill Burwell, Don Freeman, Bogie Redmon, Bob Starnes, Bill Small, John Love, Dick Freehill, Dan Lee and Larry Bauer.
Illini Look to End Boilermakers' Streak
Illinois enters Wednesday night's contest trying to end an eight-game skid against Purdue. That is Illinois' longest losing streak against a conference opponent since dropping nine straight to Purdue from Feb. 20, 1996-Jan. 12, 2000. The Boilers are the only Big Ten team the current Illini senior class has not beaten.
Purdue 68, #11/14 Illinois 61 // Jan. 2 at West Lafayette
Illinois' late comeback fell short in West Lafayette as the Boilermakers defeated the Illini in the Big Ten opener, 68-61. Illinois led for the majority of the first half and was ahead 45-39 with 12 minutes remaining. But that's when Purdue began a game-changing 20-4 run to seize control. During that stretch, the Illini made just 1 of 15 shots as the tide turned to a 59-49 advantage for the Boilermakers with just over three minutes left.
The Illini charged back down the stretch, as Brandon Paul made two 3-pointers and D.J. Richardson added a trey to bring the UI within two at 63-61 with 31 seconds left. Illinois then fouled Jacob Lawson with 21 seconds to go and he missed both free throws, but D.J. Byrd came up with the offensive rebound and called timeout before falling out of bounds. Byrd then connected on a 3-point play to put the Boilers up by five and secure the win.
Purdue 67, Illinois 62 // Feb. 15, 2012 at Champaign
Illinois dropped its fourth straight league game, falling to Purdue 67-62 in Champaign. The Illini trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half before cutting the deficit to three early after the break. The Boilers then pushed their lead up to nine with 12 minutes remaining, but Illinois went on a 10-3 run to make it a two-point game at 51-49 with 9:19 left. The Illini later closed to within two points on four more occasions with chances to tie or take the lead, but could not convert offensively. Robbie Hummel, meanwhile, scored Purdue's last seven points in the final four minutes to seal the win for the Boilers.
Tracy Abrams led the Illini with a season-high 22 points, while Brandon Paul scored 19 and Joseph Bertrand added 12. The Illini were hurt by cold perimeter shooting, going just 3-for-21 from behind the arc.
Last Time Out
Illinois fought back from a 12-point deficit to defeat No. 18 Minnesota in Minneapolis on Sunday. After falling behind 13-2 at the start and trailing 26-14, the Illini outscored the Gophers 17-4 over the final 3:45 of the first half to take a 31-30 lead into halftime. The second half was played within a margin of five points, the Illini moving ahead for the final time on a basket by Tracy Abrams with 5:52 left. The Gophers were still within one when Abrams made the game's final basket, a step-back 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to put the Illini ahead by four with 15 seconds left and secure the road win.
Tyler Griffey led the Illini with 16 points, his highest total in Big Ten play. D.J. Richardson added 13 points and Brandon Paul had 10. Abrams, meanwhile, had six assists without a turnover in addition to his five points in crunch time.
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 Feb. 7. 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.
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.
Five Key Facts On ...
1. Big Ten's No. 3 leading scorer with an average of 17.3 points.
2. Has scored at least 13 points in all but two games this season, with nine 20-plus point performances.
3. Second among Big Ten players in free throw makes (113), and attempts (157), behind Indiana's Cody Zeller.
4. Sixth among Big Ten players in 3-point field goals with an average of 2.2 makes per game.
5. Six 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.
1. Second on the Illini in scoring with an average of 12.3 points.
2. Has scored in double figures in each of the last six games, averaging 17.0 points over that stretch (102).
3. Carries a career-long active streak of 31 straight games making at least one 3-pointer, the longest by a player from a BCS conference.
4. Third 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 255.
5. Has started 121 career games, fourth on the UI's all-time starts list.
1. Third Illini scoring in double figures with an average of 10.7 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 6.4 points (4.3 last year).
3. Leads the team and ranks 11th in the Big Ten in assists (3.3 apg).
4. Has combined for a total of nine assists with only one turnover over the last two games.
5. Shooting 48 percent on 2-pointers this season (76-158).
1. Illini sixth-man is team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 8.4 points.
2. Ranks seventh in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 52.2 percent (83-159).
3. Scored in double figures nine times off the bench, led by season-high 17 points vs. Wisconsin (Feb. 3).
4. Third on the team in rebounding (4.4 rpg).
5. Shooting 34.1 percent from 3-point range, making 15-of-44, after going just 3-of-11 from behind the arc through his first two seasons combined.
1. Fifth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 7.4 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. Scored a season-high 16 points Sunday at Minnesota.
5. Grabbed season-high eight rebounds vs. Indiana (Feb. 7).
6. Has made 30 three-pointers this season after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last year.
1. Started all 25 games and is averaging 24.7 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 6.5 points and leads team with average of 4.7 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).
1. Fifth-year transfer is playing 21.2 minutes per game.
2. Averaging 5.6 points (39) and 3.4 rebounds (24) as a starter the last seven 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 17 blocked shots.