Men's Basketball
Game 31 Notes & Links: Illinois at Iowa

Joseph Bertrand and the Illini have won six of their last seven.
Joseph Bertrand and the Illini have won six of their last seven.

March 4, 2013

 Game 31: Illinois (21-9, 8-8) at Iowa (18-11, 7-9)
 When Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | 6 p.m. CT
 Location Iowa City, Iowa | Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500)
 Tickets Buy Online or call 1-800 IA-HAWKS
 Television BTN | (Dave Revsine, PBP & Jim Jackson, analyst)
 Radio Illini Sports Network | Listen | Sirius 123 / XM 191
 Live Coverage GameTracker
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Iowa | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Iowa | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Brandon Paul | Tracy Abrams | Myke Henry
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  #Illini   | Facebook | YouTube

 Illinois Probable Starters (from previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Sr. 12.8 4.1 1.6 Has scored double figures in 11 straight
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 195 r-Jr. 7.8 4.4 0.7 7th in Big Ten in FG percentage (.514)
G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Sr. 16.1 4.3 2.9 Ranks 9th on UI career scoring list
F 0 Sam McLaurin 6-8 220 Gr. 4.3 3.4 0.5 Leads team & 9th in B1G in off. rebounds
F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-9 220 Sr. 7.2 3.4 0.6 Has 2 game-winning shots this season
 Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 10 Mike LaTulip 6-0 165 Fr. 1.2 0.1 0.0 Walk-on has 19 pts in 38 mins
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 So. 10.8 3.6 3.4 Scoring up 6.5 ppg from last season
F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 215 So. 0.9 0.8 0.1 Played season-high 19 mins at Wis.
G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 So. 3.6 2.1 0.2 SH 12 pts & CH 9 mins vs. Nebraska
G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 r-Fr. 0.5 0.8 0.2 4-9 field goals this season
F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 245 So. 0.2 0.3 0.0 Scored first 2 pts of season at NW
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 240 Jr. - - - Sitting out season due to transfer rules
G 31 Kevin Berardini 6-0 165 r-Jr. 0.6 0.2 0.2 5 points in 12 minutes played
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 235 So. 6.7 4.5 0.5 Leads team in rebounding & blocks

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 106-65/.620 (5th year)
At Illinois: 21-9/.700 (1st year)
Big Ten: 8-8/.500
Assistant Coaches: Dustin Ford (1st year), Paris Parham (1st year), Jamall Walker (1st year)
Special Assistant to the Head Coach: Brandon Miller (1st year)
Director of Basketball Operations: Mark Morris (1st year)
Video Coordinator: Andy Etheridge (1st year)

Series Notes vs. Iowa
Series Record: Illinois leads 81-67
Series Streak: Iowa W-1
Record at Iowa City: Iowa leads 52-20
Series Streak at Iowa City: Illinois W-3
Last Year's Meetings:  ILL 65, Iowa 54 (2/26/12 at Champaign) & Iowa 64, ILL 61 (3/8/12 at Indianapolis)
Groce vs. Iowa: First Meeting

For Openers:
• Illinois owns victories over the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in the current Top 25, defeating both Gonzaga and Indiana. Butler is the only other team with wins over the Bulldogs and Hoosiers, and the Illini defeated Butler as well.

• Illinois has four wins over RPI Top 25 teams, tied for the fifth-highest total nationally.

• Illinois' four-win improvement during the second half of the Big Ten schedule is tied for the best turnaround in school history, along with the 1988 UI squad (details on P. 4).

• Illinois has won three in a row at Iowa heading into Tuesday's game, its longest winning streak at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and equaling its longest ever in Iowa City. The Illini previously won three straight at Iowa from 1962-64.

• With 21 wins, Illinois has its most regular-season victories since 2008-09 (23). • With a current record of 21-9 and 8-8 in the Big Ten, Illinois has exceeded last season's win total (17) by four games and conference win total (6) by two games.

Brandon Paul needs five rebounds, one assist and three steals to join Mark Smith (1978-81) as only the second Illini player ever to reach career milestones of 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 150 steals (details on P. 3-4).

• The Illini have played one of the most difficult schedules in the country, owning the ninth-ranked SOS.

• Looking ahead to next week's Big Ten Tournament, seeds six through nine are all still in play for the Illini.

• Following the 64-59 victory over Penn State on Feb. 21, the Illini are now 6-1 on the season in games decided by five points or less.

• Illinois has secured its fourth 20-win season in the last five years, 12th in the last 14 years, and 30th all-time.

• The Illini have held their opponent to less than 60 points in six of eight conference wins this season (Ohio State-55, Nebraska-51, Minnesota-53, Purdue-59, Northwestern-41, Penn State-59).

• 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 23 of 30 games. The Illini average 16.9 points off turnovers and own a margin of +4.6 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).

• 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.

Brandon Paul was named of 30 candidates for the Naismith Trophy on Feb. 26. 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 11 games - his career-long streak in Big Ten play - averaging 16.3 points over that stretch (179). Richardson has led the Illini in scoring in five of the last seven games.

D.J. Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 30 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 36 straight games with at least one trey.

• While Brandon Paul leads the Illini in scoring on the season (16.1 ppg), D.J. Richardson is Illinois' leading scorer in conference play with an average of 14.5 points.

Brandon Paul's scoring average of 16.1 points is the highest by an Illini player in the last 10 seasons, since Brian Cook averaged 20 points in 2003.

Brandon Paul has scored in double figures in each of the last three games, averaging 13.3 points (40), after a 3-game stretch from Feb. 10-17 where he averaged just 7.0 points (21).

• Following his team-high 16 points in Saturday's win over Nebraska, Tracy Abrams has now scored in double figures in four of the last five games.

Sam McLaurin is shooting 56.1 percent from the field (23-41) during his 12 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 74.1 points on 44.7 percent shooting and 36.4 percent 3-point shooting in its 21 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 42.3 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range in its 16 games at Assembly Hall.

All-Around Paul Closing in on Historic UI Club
Illini senior Brandon Paul has made an impact in every area during his Illini career. He is one of just to 10 players in UI history to score 1,500 points, and with five more rebounds, he would become just the fifth Illini player ever in the 1,500-point/500-rebound club:

Deon Thomas, 1991-94 (2,129 points, 846 rebounds)
Brian Cook, 2000-03 (1,748 points, 815 rebounds)
Eddie Johnson, 1978-81 (1,692 points, 831 rebounds)
Mark Smith, 1978-81 (1,653 points, 722 rebounds)
Brandon Paul, 2010-13 (1,539 points, 495 rebounds

Paul also is just one assist away from reaching 300 for his career, and three steals shy of 150. When adding 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 points, 722 rebounds, 350 assists, 161 steals)
Brandon Paul, 2010-13 (1,539 points, 495 rebounds, 299 assists, 147 steals)

Illini Turnaround Ranks Among Best
Illinois is 6-1 during the second half of conference play. This is a drastic turnaround from the half-way point of the league race, when the Illini owned a record of 2-7. Illinois has already totaled four more wins in the second portion of the Big Ten season compared to the first, tied for the best turnaround in school history (modern era). Only the 1988 Illinois team recorded a win-improvement during the second half of league play equal to that of John Groce's inaugural Illini squad, which still has two games remaining.

Last Time Out: Illini Conclude Home Schedule with Win over Huskers on Senior Day
The Illini made big plays down the stretch in a 72-65 victory over Nebraska on Saturday. In a game that featured 10 ties and 13 lead changes, it was only fitting that things went down to the wire. The Illini trailed 57-55 when Brandon Paul hit a jumper with 5:39 left to tie it. D.J. Richardson nailed a 3-pointer on Illinois' next possession and Tracy Abrams then scored on a layup to make it seven unanswered points by the Illini, giving the hosts a 62-57 lead with four minutes left. The Cornhuskers got within one possession at the 3-minute mark, but Paul made a driving layup to make it a 4-point advantage. The Huskers were unable get any closer and the Illini made 6-of-6 from the line in the final minute to close out the win.

Illinois had balanced scoring with five players scoring in double figures. It was a combined effort between the sophomore and senior classes on Senior Day at the Assembly Hall. Tracy Abrams led the way with 16 points while Brandon Paul scored 14 and D.J. Richardson added 13. Myke Henry had his best game with the Orange and Blue, tallying a season-high 12 points and career-high nine rebounds. And Nnanna Egwu chipped in with 10 points and five boards.

The Last Meeting
March 8, 2012
Indianapolis, Ind.
Illini Fall Just Short to Iowa, 64-61
Meyers Leonard had 18 points and six rebounds and D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand added 11 points each.

Looking Back at Last Season's Iowa Games:

• Illinois 65, Iowa 54 // Feb. 26, 2012 at Champaign
Illinois snapped a six-game skid with a 65-54 win over Iowa at the Assembly Hall. After the Hawkeyes scored the game's first five points, the Illini answered with a 13-0 run to take the lead for good. Illinois led by as many as 12 in the first half, and after the Hawkeyes cut it to four with 13 minutes left, the Illini went on an 11-4 spurt to push the lead back to double figures with seven minutes remaining. One last Iowa rally got the visitors to within five, but a 3-point play by Meyers Leonard followed by a Brandon Paul 3-pointer again gave the Illini a double figure lead and the hosts made 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute to close out the win.

Meyers Leonard led the Illini, tying his career high with 22 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Brandon Paul scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half and D.J. Richardson also finished in double figures with 12 points.

• Iowa 64, Illinois 61 // March 8, 2012 at Indianapolis
Illinois' season came to a close with a narrow 3-point loss to the Hawkeyes in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Illini led by four at halftime following a back-and-forth first 20 minutes and extended the lead to its largest of the day at 40-33 less than four minutes into the second half. But the Hawkeyes later went on a momentum changing 13-2 run, turning a four-point deficit into a 55-48 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining. The Illini could draw no closer than four until the closing seconds, when Joseph Bertrand hit a 3-pointer to make it a 1-point game. After Iowa's Matt Gatens made a pair of free throws, D.J. Richardson's 3-point attempt to force overtime missed just before the buzzer.

In what would be his final game with the Illini, sophomore Meyers Leonard led the way with 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting and six rebounds. D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand scored 11 points apiece while Tyler Griffey added nine.

Five Key Facts On ...

Brandon Paul
1. Big Ten's No. 4 leading scorer with an average of 16.1 points.
2. Owns highest scoring average by an Illini in 10 years, since Brian Cook in 2003 (20.0 ppg).
3. Has scored at least 13 points in 25 of 30 games this season, with nine 20-plus point performances.
4. Scored his 1,500th career point on Feb. 21 vs. Penn State, becoming the 10th player in school history to reach that milestone.
5. Seven off the team lead in rebounds (4.3 rpg), challenging to become the first UI player to lead the Illini in both scoring and rebounding in the same season since Shaun Pruitt in 2008.

D.J. Richardson
1. Leads the team in scoring during Big Ten play at 14.5 ppg (seventh in Big Ten).
2. Has scored in double figures in each of the last 11 games, averaging 16.3 points over that stretch (179).
3. Carries a career-long active streak of 36 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 266.
5. Has started 126 career games, fourth on the UI's all-time starts list.

Tracy Abrams
1. Third Illini scoring in double figures with an average of 10.8 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 6.5 points (4.3 last year).
3. Leads the team and ranks ninth in the Big Ten in assists (3.4 apg).
4. Shooting 48.1 percent on 2-pointers this season (87-181).
5. Illinois is 8-2 this season in games where he records at least five assists.

Joseph Bertrand
1. Illini sixth-man is team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 7.8 points.
2. Second on team in rebounding (4.4 rpg), led by career-high 12 boards vs. Purdue (Feb. 13).
3. Ranks seventh in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 51.4 percent (93-181).
4. Scored in double figures nine times off the bench, led by season-high 17 points vs. Wisconsin (Feb. 3).
5. Has made 16 three-pointers this season, after combining for just 3 treys through his first two seasons.

Tyler Griffey
1. Fifth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 7.2 points.
2. Has made two game-winners at the Assembly Hall, a layup at the buzzer vs. Indiana (Feb. 7) and a three-pointer with four seconds left vs. Gardner-Webb (Nov. 25).
3. Averaging 8.9 points (62) over the last seven games, scoring in double figures three times.
4. Scored a season-high 16 points at Minnesota (Feb. 10).
5. Grabbed season-high eight rebounds vs. Indiana (Feb. 7).

Nnanna Egwu
1. Started all but one game and is averaging 24.6 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 6.7 points and leads team with average of 4.5 rebounds, tripling his production over last season (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
3. Seventh in the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.3 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).

Sam McLaurin
1. Fifth-year transfer is playing 21.3 minutes per game.
2. Averaging 5.3 points (64) and 3.3 rebounds (40) and shooting 56.2 percent (23-41) as a starter the last 12 games.
3. Leads team and ranks ninth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, averaging 2.3 per game.
4. Scored season-high eight points vs. Purdue (Feb. 13).
5. Third on the team with 19 blocked shots.

Complete Illinois-Iowa Game Notes (PDF)