Men's Basketball
Illini Host Hawkeyes Sunday at Assembly Hall

 
Meyers Leonard and the Illini have won six straight against the Hawkeyes.
Meyers Leonard and the Illini have won six straight against the Hawkeyes.
 

Feb. 24, 2012

 GAME 29: Illinois (16-12, 5-10) vs. Iowa (15-13, 7-8)
 Date Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012
 Time 5 pm CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | Assembly Hall (16,618)
 Television BTN (Gus Johnson and Shon Morris) | Watch (BTN2Go)
 Radio Illini Sports Network | Affiliates | Listen | Sirius 91/XM 91
 Tickets Buy Online
 Live Stats GameTracker | Mobile Livestats
 Preview Interviews Coach Weber | Meyers Leonard | Brandon Paul | D.J. Richardson
 Game Notes Illinois | Iowa | Big Ten
 Statistics Illinois | Iowa | Big Ten
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  Facebook

Opening Tip
After concluding a stretch of four out of five games on the road, the Illini return to Champaign for back-to-back games at the Assembly Hall beginning with Sunday's match-up with Iowa.

Illinois is trying to snap a six-game skid, its first under Coach Bruce Weber and longest since dropping seven straight from Jan. 3-23, 1999.

Probable Starters (from the previous game)

Pos.	No.	Name     	Ht.	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	13 	Tracy Abrams 	6-1	185	Fr.	4.1	2.3	1.9	42.0  FG%
G	1	D.J. Richardson	6-3	195	Jr.	12.1	3.1	1.9	36.0  3FG%
G	3	Brandon Paul	6-4	200	Jr.	14.7	4.7	3.0	1.5 spg
F	42	Tyler Griffey	6-8	230	Jr.	5.1	3.3	0.5	35 off. reb.
C	12	Meyers Leonard	7-1	245	So.	13.1	7.9	1.4	2.0 bpg

Off the Bench

Pos.	No.	Name    	Ht. 	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	0	Sam Maniscalco	6-0	180	Gr.	6.5	1.9	2.3	82.1  FT%
G	2	Joseph Bertrand	6-5	195	r-So.	6.4	2.7	1.4	53.7  FG%
F	15	Mike Shaw	6-8	230	Fr.	0.9	2.1	0.3	7.7 mpg
G/F	20	Myke Henry	6-6	230	Fr.	3.5	1.1	0.1 	48.3  FG%
G/F	21	Devin Langford	6-7	200	Fr.
F/C	23	Ibby Djimde	6-8	250	Fr.	0.3	0.9	0.0	4.0 mpg
G	25	Jean Selus 	6-2	195	Sr.	0.0	0.1	0.1	7 minutes
F/C	32	Nnanna Egwu	6-11	245	Fr.	1.9	1.6	0.2	46.9  FG%
G	44	Kevin Berardini	6-0	175	r-So.	0.0	0.0	0.0	5 minutes

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 312-152/.672 (14th year)
At Illinois: 209-98/.681 (9th year)
Big Ten: 88-63/.583
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. Iowa
Series Record: Illinois leads 80-66
Last Year's Meetings: ILL 87, Iowa 77 (12/29/10 // Iowa City) & ILL 81, Iowa 68 (2/26/11 // Champaign)
Series Streak: Illinois W-6
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 60-14
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-10
Weber vs. Iowa: 12-2

Illini Look to Extend Record Success against Hawkeyes
Illinois has won six consecutive games vs. Iowa, its longest winning streak ever against the Hawkeyes. The Illini previously won five in a row over Iowa from Jan. 5, 1963-Feb. 23, 1965.

The all-time series stood at 64-62 in favor of the Illini through the 1999 season. Illinois has since won 16 of 20 games, including 12 of 14 under Weber, to now hold a 80-66 advantage in the series.

Richardson Scores 1000; Paul Nears Milestone
Junior D.J. Richardson is the newest member of the Fighting Illini 1,000-point club. Richardson reached that milestone when he made a free throw with 1:12 left in Tuesday night's game at Ohio State, becoming the 45th player in Illini history to score 1,000 career points.

Fellow junior Brandon Paul will soon join Richardson in the exclusive club. Paul enters the Iowa game just two points shy of the 1,000 mark with 998 for his career.

Last Time Out
The offensive firepower of No. 8 Ohio State was on display early and often as the Illini fell to the Buckeyes by the score of 83-67 Tuesday night in Columbus. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 28-8 lead nearly 10 minutes into the game, making 11 of its first 12 shots. Illinois regrouped and outscored the hosts 18-14 the rest of the half to trail 42-26 at intermission, but the Illini could get no closer in the second half.

Meyers Leonard led the Illini with 21 points - just one shy of his career high. Leonard shot 7-of-12 from the field and made 7-of-9 at the line. D.J. Richardson also scored in double figures with 12 points and grabbed a game-high six boards.

Recent Defense Not the Norm for Illini
Illinois' lapse on defensive lately is a sharp contrast to the numbers the Orange and Blue have allowed in previous years as well as earlier this season.

In conference play, the Illini led the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense each of the last three years, topped the chart in 3-point field goal percentage defense two of the last three years, and ranked in the top three in scoring defense two of the last three years.

Taking a broader look at Weber's previous eight seasons in Champaign, the Illini led the conference in scoring defense four times, ranked in the top three in field goal percentage defense six times, and in the top three in 3-point field goal percentage defense five times.

Through the first nine games of Big Ten play this year, the Illini defense allowed 63.3 points (570) on 41.9 percent shooting from the field (203-485) and 35.2 percent shooting from 3-point range (50-142). But over the last six games, Illini opponents have averaged 76.3 points (458) on 54.2 percent shooting (162-299) and 47.4 percent shooting from behind the arc (46-97).

Paul Near Top of Big Ten Scoring List
Brandon Paul is one of the Big Ten's leading scorers during conference play, averaging 17.6 points to rank fourth on the league list. Paul has scored in double figures in all but two 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 2.0 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 55 blocks, meanwhile, ranks fourth on the UI single-season chart. The Illini record is 86 rejections set by Holcomb in 1979.

Close Games Becoming a Habit
It seems that nearly every time the Illini take the floor the outcome is decided in the final seconds. Illinois has been involved in 13 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). The Illini rank fourth nationally in the most games decided by five points or less this season:

Delaware	14
Gardner-Webb	14
E. Michigan	14
Illinois	13
Louisiana Tech	13
Samford  	13

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.

Overall, the Illini are 11-7 in games decided by single digits and 7-6 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:

Season	Record
2011-12	7-6
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 Iowa Games:

• Illinois 87, Iowa 77 // Dec. 29 // Iowa City
The Illini opened Big Ten play with a 10-point win at Iowa. Illini started hot from the field, making nine of its first 10 shots, including its first seven 3-point attempts, in jumping out to a 23-15 lead. Illinois led by 12 at halftime and opened the second half on a 9-0 run to open its largest lead of the game at 58-39. The Hawkeyes answered with a 10-0 run of their own to cut the lead to nine. Iowa got as close as six points at 65-59 with less than eight minutes left, but Demetri McCamey scored back-to-back buckets on a long two followed by his fourth trey of the game to push the lead back to a comfortable 11 points from which the Illini did not look back.

Illinois' shooting was the story of the game with the Illini making 66.7 percent on the night and a school-record 72.2 percent from 3-point range. Five players scored in double figures, led by McCamey's 20 points. D.J. Richardson scored a season-high 17 and knocked down 5-of-7 treys.

Illinois' score of 87 was its highest point total ever at Carver-Hawkeye and most in a Big Ten road game since scoring 95 at Penn State on Jan. 31, 2001.

• Illinois 81, Iowa 68 // Feb. 26 // Champaign
Illinois shot 55.4 percent, including 62.5 percent during the second half, en route to a 13-point victory over Iowa. Illinois started strong, scoring the game's first 10 points. Iowa fought back to tie it at 13 before the Illini went on a 16-2 run to open up a 29-15 lead. Iowa made one more push to cut the UI lead to five at halftime. Illinois led by eight early in the second half and then went on a 10-1 run to take its largest lead of the game at 60-43 with 11 minutes remaining. The lead remained in double figures the rest of the way as the Illini won its ninth straight over the Hawkeyes at the Assembly Hall.

Mike Tisdale scored a season-high 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Mike Davis just missed a double-double, registering 20 points and nine rebounds. Demetri McCamey added 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Five Quick Facts On ...

Brandon Paul
1. Leads Illini in scoring on the season (14.7 ppg) and ranks fourth in Big Ten in scoring during league play (17.6 ppg).
2. Scored in double figures in 19 times, with six games of 20+ points.
3. Leads Illini in assists with 3.0 average.
4. Scored career-high 43 points Jan. 10 vs. Ohio State (see box on page 10 for more details).
5. Has made 153 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (187 FTA).

Meyers Leonard
1. Leads the Illini and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.9 rpg), and is second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg).
2. First in Big Ten in blocked shots, averaging 2.0 bpg (55). On pace to have the second-best single-season average in school history.
3. Third in the Big Ten and 15th in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 58.5 percent (145-248).
4. Seven double-doubles on the season, ranking third among Big Ten players.
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.0 points (2.1 ppg last year), the second-best improvement in the Big Ten behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (+12.2 ppg).

D.J. Richardson
1. Third on team in scoring with an average of 12.1 points.
2. Leads Illini with 63 three-pointers on the season.
3. Average of 2.3 threes per game ranks third in Big Ten.
4. Scored 1,000th career point Tuesday at Ohio State, 45th player in Illini history to reach that milestone.
5. Eighth on school's all-time 3-point field goals list with 187 career treys.

Tracy Abrams
1. Started last 13 games after starting first two games of his career.
2. Scored a career-high 22 points Feb. 15 vs. Purdue.
3. Reached double figures again with 11 points Feb. 18 at Nebraska.
4. Dished out career-high eight assists Feb. 5 vs. Northwestern, most by an Illini this season.
5. First Illini true-freshman point guard to start first career game since Dee Brown in 2002-03.

Joseph Bertrand
1. 10th in Big Ten in field goal shooting during conference play at 52.3 percent (56-107).
2. UI's fourth-leading scorer in league play with average of 8.2 points.
3. Recorded career-high five assists Feb. 15 vs. Purdue and Feb. 18 Nebraska.
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).

Tyler Griffey
1. Averaging 5.1 points and 3.3 boards this year, tripling his scoring and rebounding averages from last season (1.6 ppg and 1.2 rpg in 2010-11).
2. Ranks second on the Illini with 35 offensive rebounds.
3. Scored a career-high 18 points Feb. 12 at Michigan.
4. Shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range over the last 10 games (7-17).
5. Has scored in double figures four times this year after totaling three double-figure scoring games over his first two seasons.

HEADLINES