Senior Day Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Nebraska
March 1, 2013
Series Notes vs. Nebraska
Kevin Berardini is in his third year with the Illini after joining the team as a preferred walk-on. He has played in 25 career games, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal. He scored a career-high four points against Toledo in 2010. Berardini will graduate in May with a degree in political science.
Tyler Griffey has played in 117 career games, earning 42 starts. He has scored 507 points and grabbed 285 rebounds. Griffey tallied a season-high 16 points in the win at Minnesota and recorded one of the greatest moments in Illini basketball history when he hit a game-winning layup at the buzzer to take down top-ranked Indiana and set off a court storming celebration at the Assembly Hall. He also hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Gardner-Webb in November at The Hall. Griffey will graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology.
Sam McLaurin is in his first season with the Illini after joining the program as a graduate transfer. He has played in every game this year, starting the last 11, and is averaging 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds. McLaurin scored a season-high eight points in the win over Purdue and is one of the best offensive rebounders in the Big Ten, ranking eighth in that category. McLaurin will graduate in August with a master's degree in recreation, sport and tourism.
Brandon Paul has appeared in 131 games, starting 82 times. He ranks 10th on the Illini all-time scoring list with 1,525 points and also is closing in on career numbers of 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 150 steals - on pace to become just the second player in school history to reach those milestones. Paul is a candidate for the Naismith Trophy, averaging 16.2 points and 4.3 rebounds this season. He was named MVP at the Maui Invitational and scored a season-high 35 points in the win at No. 10 Gonzaga. Paul was an All-Big Ten selection last season, scoring a career-high 43 points in a win over No. 5 Ohio State. It was the third-highest scoring mark in school history, earning him National Player of the Week accolades. Paul will graduate in May with a degree in recreation, sport and tourism.
D.J. Richardson is a four-year starter who ranks among Illinois' all-time top five players in both minutes played and games started. He stands 18th on the Illini career-scoring list with 1,407 points and is third in the UI record books with 263 three-pointers. Richardson is having an outstanding senior season, hitting a game-winning 3-pointer to beat Hawaii at the buzzer, earning Maui Invitational All-Tournament Team honors and erupting for a career-high 30 points in the win at Nebraska. He has scored in double figures in each of the last 10 games and leads the Illini in scoring during conference play, averaging 14.6 points. Richardson will graduate in May with a degree in communication.
50th Anniversary of Assembly Hall | Special Events | Greatest Moments | Fan Memories
To celebrate the historic anniversary, each fan will receive a commemorative 50th Anniversary ticket when entering the arena. A video will be shown of Illini greats and entertainers who have performed at The Hall through the years, and a video of the proposed Assembly Hall renovation project will be debuted.
In addition to the events at Saturday's game, memorable Assembly Hall moments are being highlighted at FightingIllini.com, on the Fighting Illini Basketball Facebook page, and on the @IlliniHoops Twitter page. Fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #AH50 to post their favorite Assembly Hall memories.
The Assembly Hall has served as home to the Fighting Illini men's basketball program since hosting its first game on March 4, 1963. Illinois has an impressive record of 553-149 (.788) in the building and has provided countless memories for the nearly 9.7 million fans that have passed through the turnstiles.
The Hall has been home to the Fighting Illini women's basketball program from 1981-93 and 1998-present. In addition, the building has hosted events for wrestling, volleyball and men's and women's gymnastics, and will host this year's Big Ten Wrestling Championships next weekend (March 9-10). The Assembly Hall also holds performances for Broadway musicals, commencement ceremonies, concerts and other shows, and has been home to Illinois High School Association state championships for boys basketball (1963-95), girls basketball (1978-90) and wrestling (1967-present).
Illinois' five wins against the RPI Top 25 are tied with Michigan State and Kansas for the second-highest total nationally, behind only Indiana (7).
The Illini have defeated a total of four opponents featured in the current AP Top 25, tied with Georgetown, Michigan State and Minnesota for the fourth-most of any team in the country behind Indiana, Kansas and Marquette (5 wins each).
Illinois' win over Penn State on Feb. 21 was its 20th of the season, securing the program's fourth 20-win season in the last five years, 12th in the last 14 years, and 30th all-time.
Illinois exceeded its win total from last season (17) on Feb. 13. And with its seventh Big Ten on Feb. 21, the Illini have also surpassed last year's win total in conference play (6).
Illinois' recent five-game Big Ten winning streak was its longest conference winning streak since also winning five in a row from Jan. 27-Feb. 9, 2010.
The Illini have held their opponent to less than 60 points in six of seven conference wins this season (Ohio State-55, Nebraska-51, Minnesota-53, Purdue-59, Northwestern-41, Penn State-59).
With the 64-59 victory over Penn State on Feb. 21, the Illini improved to 6-1 on the season in games decided by five points or less.
Illinois is 14-1 on the season when shooting better than its opponent.
Illinois has exceeded 70 points 16 times this season after doing so just 10 times in 32 games last year. The Illini are 14-2 on the year when reaching the 70-point marker.
Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 22 of 29 games. The Illini average 17.1 points off turnovers and own a margin of +4.8 points per game in that category on the season.
Illinois has four victories this season where it overcame double-digit deficits (16-at Hawaii, 11-at Gonzaga, 14-Indiana, 12-at Minnesota).
Brandon Paul was named of 30 candidates for the Naismith Trophy on Tuesday. Paul is one of six Big Ten players on the list, the most of any conference.
D.J. Richardson has scored in double figures in each of the last 10 games - his career-long streak in Big Ten play - averaging 16.6 points over that stretch (166). Richardson has led the Illini in scoring in each of the last four games.
D.J. Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 29 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 35 straight games with at least one trey.
Sam McLaurin is shooting 56.1 percent from the field (23-41) during his 11 games in the starting lineup.
With wins over No. 1 Indiana (Feb. 7) and No. 18 Minnesota (Feb. 10), 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).
Illinois' win over top-ranked Indiana 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 the No. 1 Hoosiers 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 averages 74.2 points on 44.8 percent shooting and 36.5 percent 3-point shooting in its 20 wins, compared to averaging 63 points on 38.3 percent shooting and 24.8 percent 3-point shooting in its nine losses.
Illinois is shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from 3-point range in its 14 games away from home, an increase over the UI's 42.2 percent shooting from the field and 30.7 percent from 3-point range in its 15 games at Assembly Hall.
All-Around Paul Closing in on Historic UI Club
Deon Thomas, 1991-94 (2,129 points, 846 rebounds)
Paul also is just six assists away from reaching 300 for his career, and three steals shy of 150. When adding in those categories to 1,500 points and 500 rebounds, Paul is closing in on becoming only the second player in Fighting Illini history to reach all of those milestones:
Mark Smith, 1978-81 (1,653 rebounds, 722 rebounds, 350 assists, 161 steals)
Notes from the Last Nebraska Game:
Illinois 71, Nebraska 51 // Jan. 27 at Lincoln
Looking Back at Last Year's Home Game Versus Nebraska:
Illinois 59, Nebraska 54 // Jan. 7, 2012 at Champaign
The Illini trailed 48-45 with five minutes left but scored five straight points on a 3-point play by Joseph Bertrand and a jumper by Brandon Paul to take the lead. Nebraska would later tie the game on two occasions, but Bertrand put the Illini ahead for good, hitting another bucket with 54 seconds remaining to break a 54-all tie. The Illini added a trio of free throws in the final seconds to close it out.
Bertrand was unstoppable on the day, scoring a career-high 25 points. He made his first eight shots and finished 11-of-12 from the field. Paul also registered double figures with 11.
Illini Turnaround Ranks Among Best
Five Key Facts On ...