Feb. 14, 2012
Illinois aims to get back in the win column on Wednesday night, facing Purdue at the Assembly Hall. This is the Illini's lone home contest over a five-game stretch. Following the match-up with the Boilermakers, the Illini are back on the road for consecutive games at Nebraska (Saturday) and No. 6 Ohio State (Tuesday).
Illinois' last two victories have been against the teams currently tied for first place in the current Big Ten standings in Ohio State and Michigan State.
Probable Starters (from the previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 3.1 2.3 1.9 20.4 mpg
G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 12.4 2.9 2.0 37.3 3FG%
G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 15.2 4.9 3.2 1.5 spg
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 6.6 2.8 1.2 55.9 FG%
C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 13.2 8.0 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. 3.2 1.2 0.1 48.9 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. 1.8 1.6 0.2 47.6 FG%
F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 5.5 3.4 0.5 32 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: 312-149/.677 (14th year)
At Illinois: 209-95/.688 (9th year)
Big Ten: 88-60/.595
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. Purdue
Series Record: Purdue leads 94-84
Last Meeting: Purdue 75, Illinois 60 (Dec. 31, 2011 at West Lafayette)
Series Streak: Purdue W-6
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 54-33
Series Streak at Champaign: Purdue W-2
Weber vs. Purdue: 7-10
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 974 points, just 26 away from becoming the 45th 1,000-point scorer in school history. Fellow junior Brandon Paul, meanwhile, is six points behind Richardson with 968 for his career, only 32 points shy of 1,000.
Illinois enters Wednesday night looking to end its recent three-game skid. The Illini have lost three straight just eight times during Coach Bruce Weber's nine seasons in Champaign, with only one of those streaks extending past three games. Illinois has responded with a victory each of the last five times following three consecutive losses. The most recent occurrence was a 42-41 victory over No. 9 Michigan State on Jan. 31 at the Assembly Hall.
The Illini's lone losing streak under Weber longer than three games was a five-game skid during the 2007-08 season (Dec. 30, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008).
Last Time Out
Illinois dropped a 70-61 decision at No. 22 Michigan on Sunday afternoon. The Illini scored seven of the game's first nine points but the Wolverines answered with a quick 10-1 run of its own to take the lead. With Meyers Leonard sidelined with two fouls for the majority of the first half, the Illini hung around thanks to the production of reserve Tyler Griffey, but Michigan's 56.5 shooting in the opening 20 minutes gave the hosts a six-point lead at the break. The Wolverines extended their lead to as many as 14 before the Illini cut it in half with a 7-0 run to pull within 58-51 with five minutes remaining. But the Illini could get no closer than seven the rest of the way as Michigan made 7-of-8 from the line to seal it.
Brandon Paul led the Illini with a game-high 21 points, his sixth 20-point performance in conference play. Griffey had his best game as an Illini, scoring a career-high 18 points and grabbing five boards in 29 minutes of action. D.J. Richardson also scored in double figures with 12.
Paul Near Top of Big Ten Scoring List
Brandon Paul is the Big Ten's third-leading scorer in conference action, averaging 19.5 points to stand less than one point away from the league lead (John Shurna, Northwestern, 20.4 ppg). Paul has scored in double figures in all 12 Big Ten games, with six 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.
Leonard's Block Party
Meyers Leonard leads the Big Ten 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 52 blocks, meanwhile, stands sixth on the UI single-season chart. The Illini record is 86 rejections set by Holcomb in 1979.
Paul Stepping Up After Half
In each of the last nine games, Brandon Paul has scored equal or more points in the second half compared to the first half. He has scored in double figures in the second half alone 12 times this season, including seven of the last eight games and each of the last five.
Paul notched 22 points after intermission at Minnesota, accounted for 13 of Illinois' 20 second-half points vs. Michigan State, which included all but two of the UI's second-half baskets, tallied 11 points after the break vs. Northwestern, 11 second-half points at Indiana and 11 points in the second stanza at Michigan.
Taking Down Another Top-10 Foe
Illinois defeated No. 9 Michigan State on Jan. 31, 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:
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, No. 6 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, No. 6 Baylor
Ohio State - def. No. 4 Duke, No. 8 Florida, No. 8 Indiana
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 OT was nine points). Delaware and Gardner-Webb are the nation's only teams that have 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
Overall, the Illini are 11-6 in games decided by single digits and 7-5 in games decided by five or less. That is an improvement from last year when Illinois could not get over the hump in a number of close contests, winning only two games by five or less while 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:
Looking Back at the Last Purdue Game:
Purdue 75, Illinois 60 // Dec. 31 at West Lafayette
Illinois dropped its Big Ten road opener at Purdue on New Years Eve. The Illini led by eight points early on and only trailed 26-24 at halftime. But Purdue broke the game open in the second half. Leading 34-29 just over three minutes in, the Boilers went on a staggering 18-0 run, with 12 of the points during that stretch coming off Illini turnovers.
Guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson carried the scoring load for the Orange and Blue, combining for 32 points as Paul registered a game-high 17 while Richardson added 15.
Weber Faces Former Assistant Once Again
Playing Purdue has been an unusual situation for Bruce Weber since taking over as Illini head coach. During his first two seasons, that meant coaching against his mentor, Gene Keady, whom Weber served as an assistant for 19 years, including 18 seasons in West Lafayette.
Now it means facing Matt Painter, whom Weber helped recruit to Purdue and later served as an assistant coach under Weber during his five-year tenure at Southern Illinois.
This is the 14th meeting between Illinois and Purdue of the Weber and Painter eras.
Five on the Starting Five
1. Leads Illini in scoring on the season (15.2 ppg) and ranks third in Big Ten in scoring during league play (19.5 ppg).
2. Scored in double figures in 18 of the last 19 games, including each of the last 14. Averaging 19.1 points (268) and 5.6 rebounds (79) over the last 14 games.
3. Leads Illini in assists with 3.2 average.
4. Scored career-high 43 points Jan. 10 vs. Ohio State (see box on page 5 for more details).
5. Has made 140 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (179 FTA).
1. Leads the Illini and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.0 rpg), and is second on the team in scoring (13.2 ppg).
2. First in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.1 bpg (52). On pace to have the second-best single-season average in school history.
3. Third in the Big Ten and 14th in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 58.3 percent (130-223).
4. Seven double-doubles on the season, ranking third among Big Ten players.
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.1 points (2.1 ppg last year), the second-best improvement in the Big Ten behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (+12.2 ppg).
1. Third on team in scoring with an average of 12.4 points.
2. Leads Illini in 3-point shooting at 37.3 percent (59-158).
3. Average of 2.4 threes per game ranks third in Big Ten.
4. 26 points away from reaching 1,000 for his career.
5. Despite playing more than 85 percent of available minutes, has a turnover rate of less than 13 percent.
1. Fifth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting during conference play at 55.2 percent (48-87).
2. Averaging 8.9 points in Big Ten play, compared to his all-games average of 6.6 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 10 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 last Thursday at Indiana.
4. Did not commit a turnover in 31 minutes of action Sunday at Michigan.
5. First Illini true-freshman point guard to start first career game since Dee Brown in 2002-03.