Men's Basketball
#23 Illinois Game Notes vs. Penn State

Mike Davis and the Illini travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions on Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN
Mike Davis and the Illini travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions on Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN

March 4, 2009

Champaign, Ill. -

Illinois Men's Basketball Game Notes vs. Penn State in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Game #31: #23 Illinois (23-7, 11-6) at Penn State (20-9, 9-7)
March 5, 2009 // 8 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET // ESPN
University Park, Pa. // Bryce Jordan Center (15,261)

On the Air

ESPN: Dave O'Brien, play-by-play; Steve Lavin, expert analyst.

Illini Sports Network-44 stations: Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Jerry Hester, expert analyst; Loren Tate pregame/halftime/ postgame interviews.

Illini Probable Starters
G - 32	Demetri McCamey   So., 6-3, 205     11.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.7 apg
G - 1	Trent Meacham     r-Sr., 6-2, 195   10.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
G - 3	Chester Frazier   Sr., 6-2, 195     5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.4 spg
F - 24	Mike Davis        So., 6-9, 210     11.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.9 apg
C - 54	Mike Tisdale      So., 7-1, 235     10.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg

Off the Bench G - 13 Jeff Jordan So., 6-1, 185 1.1 ppg, 0.3 rpg G - 15 Bubba Chisholm Jr., 5-11, 180 0.3 ppg, 0.1 rpg C - 21 Stan Simpson Fr., 6-9, 220 considering redshirt F - 23 Dominique Keller Jr., 6-7, 230 5.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg G - 25 Calvin Brock r-Sr., 6-5, 200 4.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg F - 30 Bill Cole So., 6-9, 215 1.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg G - 33 Alex Legion So., 6-5, 200 3.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg F - 34 C.J. Jackson r-Jr., 6-8, 265 0.8 ppg, 0.4 rpg C - 50 Richard Semrau r-So., 6-10, 240 1.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg

Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Overall Record: 254-108/.702 (11th year)
At Illinois: 151-54/.737 (6th year)
Big Ten: 64-35/.646
Vs. Penn State: 6-4
Assistant Coaches: Wayne McClain (8th year), Jay Price (6th year), Jerrance Howard (2nd year)
Assistant to the Head Coach: Gary Nottingham (6th year)
  Director of Basketball Operations: Sean Harrington (1st year)
  Trainer: Al Martindale (26th year at Illinois)

Penn State Head Coach: Ed DeChellis
Overall Record: 182-194/.484 (13th year)
At Penn State: 77-101/.433 (6th year)
Vs. Illinois: 4-6

Series Notes: Penn State
Illinois leads the all-time series 21-10 over Penn State, including a 9-4 advantage in games played at University Park. Penn State, however, has won three of the last four games in the series, including a 38-33 victory at the Assembly Hall on Feb. 18. Trent Meacham and Chester Frazier led the Illini with seven points each in that game.

Big Ten Coach of the Year Candidate Bruce Weber Named Phelan Award Finalist
Illinois head coach Bruce Weber has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2009 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award. Weber has earned recognition for directing one of the nation's most improved teams in college basketball this season, as well as one of the biggest turnarounds in school and Big Ten history:

• Illinois is currently 23-7 overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten, ranked No. 23 in both national polls and has an RPI of 18.

• The Illini have improved 10 games on last year's regular season win total, which is the third-biggest turnaround in NCAA Div. I and the second-biggest turnaround among BCS programs this season.

• Illinois has improved six games on last year's win total in Big Ten play, which is the second-biggest turnaround in school history.

• Picked to finish between fifth and seventh in the Big Ten preseason polls, Illinois is within one-half game of second place. The Illini currently stand in third place after finishing ninth last season, with the six-place jump in the conference standings also ranking as the second-biggest turnaround in school history.

• Weber has the highest winning percentage (.737) of any coach in Big Ten history who has coached at least six seasons in the conference.

• He has won 151 games in his six seasons in Champaign-Urbana, ranking third on Illinois' all-time wins list.

• With 254 victories overall, Weber has the 10th-most wins in NCAA history by a head coach through 11 seasons.

The remaining finalists for the Jim Phelan Award are Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), John Calipari (Memphis), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Darrin Horn (South Carolina), Trent Johnson (LSU), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Bill Self (Kansas), Brad Stevens (Butler) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).

The Jim Phelan Award is given annually to the nation's top coach, as voted on by a 20-member panel. The winner will be presented with the award at the 2009 Final Four in Detroit. Prior to 2003 the award was known simply as the national coach of the year. It was renamed to honor longtime Mount St. Mary's head coach Jim Phelan who retired following the 2002-03 season.

Illini Turnaround Near the Top Nationally
Illinois is one of the nation's most improved college basketball teams this season. With 23 victories, the Illini currently have 10 more wins than its regular season win total of 13 last year. Here is a look at the Top 10 NCAA Div. I turnarounds this season (wins listed in 2007-08 are regular season only):

                                07-08   08-09
   Team            Conf.        Wins    Wins    Increase
1. Citadel         Southern      6       20        14
2. LSU             SEC           13      25        12
3. Illinois        Big Ten       13      23        10
   Stony Brook     America East  6       16        10
5. Charleston      Southern      14      23        9
   Michigan        Big Ten       9       18        9
   Portland        West Coast    9       18        9
8. Buffalo         MAC           10      18        8
   UC Riverside    Big West      8       16        8
   Chicago State   Independent   11      19        8
   Evansville      MVC           9       17        8
   Hofstra         Colonial      12      20        8
   Long Beach St.  Big West      6       14        8
   Louisiana Tech  WAC           6       14        8
   Missouri        Big XII       16      24        8
   Northwestern    Big Ten       8       16        8
   Radford         Big South     10      18        8
   Troy            Sun Belt      11      19        8
   VMI             Big South     14      22        8

Illini Improvement in Big Ten Play Ranks Among Best in School History
Illinois has more than doubled its win total in conference play this year, currently with 11 victories after totaling five last season. The Illini also currently stand in third place after finishing ninth last season. These improvements rank among the best turnarounds in school history from one Big Ten season to the next: 

Illini Improvement in Big Ten Wins
1. 2000,  11 wins   1999,  3 wins	+8 wins
2. 2009,  11 wins   2008,  5 wins	+6 wins
   1951,  13 wins   1950,  7 wins	+6 wins
   1942,  13 wins   1941,  7 wins	+6 wins
   1908,  6 wins    1907,  0 wins	+6 wins
6. 1915,  12 wins   1914,  7 wins	+5 wins

Illini Improvement in Big Ten Standings 1. 2000, 4th place 1999, 11th place +7 places 2. 2009, 3rd place 2008, 9th place +6 places 3. 1997, 4th place 1996, 9th place +5 places 1993, 3rd place 1992, 8th place +5 places 1973, 3rd place 1972, 8th place +5 places 1969, 2nd place 1968, 7th place +5 places 1939, 3rd place 1938, 8th place +5 places 8. 1982, 2nd place 1981, 6th place +4 places 1929, 5th place 1928, 9th place +4 places

Quality Wins
Illinois has eight wins over the RPI Top 50 this season, with victories over Missouri, Purdue (twice), Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio State (twice) and Michigan. Illinois is tied for the third-highest win total nationally over Top 50 RPI teams:

   Team	          Top 50 RPI Wins
1. Michigan State       11
2. Connecticut          9
3. Illinois             8
   Duke                 8
   Kansas               8
6. Louisville           7
   Oklahoma             7
   Pittsburgh           7
   Purdue               7
   Wake Forest          7

Illini Postseason Resume
Illinois' rankings in various computer ratings through March 3:
• 18 - Real Time RPI
• 18 - Jeff Sagarin Ratings
• 19 - NCAA RPI
• 24 - Ken Pomeroy Ratings
• Illinois is 3-3 vs. the RPI Top 25, 8-6 vs. the RPI Top 50, and 10-7 vs. the RPI Top 100.
• Illinois' eight wins over the RPI Top 50 ranks third nationally.
• Illinois has two road wins vs. the RPI Top 50, and four road wins vs. the RPI Top 100.
• Illinois' Strength of Schedule is rated 30th by Real Time RPI and 33rd by Sagarin.

Current Illini Squad Ties Sixth-Winningest Regular Season in School History
With 23 victories this year, the 2008-09 Fighting Illini have tied the sixth-winningest regular season in school history. Four of the winningest regular seasons on Illinois' top-10 list have come during Bruce Weber's six-year tenure:

                           Reg. Season   Total
    Season    Coach           Wins       Wins
1.  2004-05   Bruce Weber      29         37
2.  1988-89   Lou Henson       27         31
3.  2005-06   Bruce Weber      25         26
4.  1984-85   Lou Henson       24         26
    1983-84   Lou Henson       24         26
6.  2008-09   Bruce Weber      23         ?
    2001-02   Bill  Self        23         26
    2000-01   Bill  Self        23         27
    1986-87   Lou Henson       23         23
10. 2003-04   Bruce Weber      22         26
    1987-88   Lou Henson       22         23

Opening Tips
• Illinois has clinched a top-five seed and opening round bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. A win over Penn State would assure the Illini the #2 or #3 seed. A loss to Penn State, and seeds #2, #3, #4, #5 are all in play for the Illini.

• The Illini have not lost back-to-back games this season.

• Illinois has won three straight Big Ten road games at Northwestern (Feb. 12), Indiana (Feb. 15) and Ohio State (Feb. 22). It is Illinois' longest conference road winning streak since claiming a school-record 13 straight conference road victories spanning two seasons from 2004 to 2005 (six in 2004 and seven in 2005).

• The victory over Minnesota was the Illini's 23rd of the season, giving Illinois its fifth season of at least 23 victories in six years under Bruce Weber.

• For school records purposes, only the statistics Trent Meacham has accomplished in an Illini uniform will be listed. However, when factoring in his freshman year at Dayton, Meacham topped 1,000 career points vs. Minnesota last Thursday. He has totaled 826 points with the Illini and 1,011 overall.

• With assists on 70.2 percent of its baskets this season, Illinois leads the nation in assist percentage. The Illini rank sixth in the NCAA in assists, averaging 17.7 assists per game. Illinois, meanwhile, ranks ninth nationally with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of +1.41.

• Illinois recorded its 23rd victory of the 2008-09 season vs. Minnesota last Thursday, now seven ahead of its win total from all of last season (16).

• The win over the Gophers was also the Illini's 11th Big Ten victory. Illinois has more than doubled its conference win total from all of last season (5).

• Illinois has started the same lineup for 28 consecutive games.

• Illinois is 4-3 vs. ranked teams (AP) this season.

• Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 56.3 ppg.

• Clemson (Dec. 2), Michigan (Jan. 4) and Michigan State (March 1) are the only two teams this season to top 70 points against the Illini defense.

• Clemson is the only team to shoot better than 50 percent against Illinois this season.

• Illinois is second in the Big Ten and 21st nationally in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 39.4 percent shooting. The Illini also lead the Big Ten and rank fifth in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to 28.3 percent shooting behind the arc.

• Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting 46.2 percent on the year.

• Illinois ranks third in the conference and 39th in the NCAA in scoring margin at +8.8 ppg.

• Four Illini are scoring in double figures, while seven players are averaging more than 4.5 points per game.

• Illinois is the only Big Ten team with four players among the league's Top 28 scorers.

• Eight different players have been the Illini's leading scorer in a game this season.

• Illinois' top three scorers are sophomores. In all, the UI sophomore class has scored 59.3 percent of the team's points on the season (1,158 of 1,953 pts).

• Illinois has led at halftime in 23 of 30 games this season.

• After ranking last in the Big Ten and in the bottom 10 nationally in free throw shooting last season, Illinois is third in the conference this year at 71.7 percent.

• Illinois has scored more bench points than the opposition in 20 games.

• In the latest NCAA statistical rankings released on Feb. 23, Chester Frazier ranks 30th in the nation in assists and 24th in assist-to-turnover ratio. He leads the Big Ten in assists (5.3 apg) while ranking third in assist/turnover ratio (2.41).

• In Big Ten games only, Demetri McCamey ranks second in the conference in assists (4.8 apg) and third in assist/turnover ratio (2.28).

Mike Davis ranks leads the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 7.9 boards. Davis has been the Illini's top rebounder in 20 games.

• Davis leads the Big Ten with eight double-doubles on the season.

• Over the last eight games, Davis has averaged 13.4 points (107) and 9.9 rebounds (79).

Mike Tisdale is fourth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting 53.8 percent. Davis, meanwhile, is fifth in the league at 53.6 percent.

• In Big Ten games only, Tisdale is third in the conference in field goal shooting at 56.2 percent.

Trent Meacham has committed just 13 turnovers through 513 minutes and 17 games of Big Ten play. He is averaging one turnover every 39.5 minutes in conference action.

• Illinois' top defender, Chester Frazier had totaled just 21 fouls through 584 minutes and 17 games of Big Ten play. He is averaging 1.2 fouls per game in conference action, despite facing the league's top scorers each game.

Mike Tisdale is Illinois' second-leading scorer in wins, averaging 12.3 points (282). He is the Illini's No. 5 scorer in losses, averaging 6.0 points (42).

• After a six-game stretch where he connected on just 4-of-25 three-pointers, Trent Meacham is shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range over the last eight games (18-41).

• Illinois is 14-1 this season when Mike Tisdale scores in double figures, and 12-0 when the UI shoots more free throws than its opponent.

• Illinois recorded a home-and-home sweep of Indiana for the first time since 1998.

• Illinois posted home-and-home victories over Purdue and Indiana in the same season for the first time since 1956.

For complete set of Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at top of this page.