March 6, 2012
2012 BIG TEN TOURNAMENT // March 8-11, 2012 // Printable Bracket
Illini Big Ten Tournament Notes
Illinois has the most all-time Big Ten Tournament (BTT) wins with 23.
The Illini own the second-best all-time BTT winning percentage at .657 (23-12).
Illinois has won two BTT championships (2003 and 2005), tied for second-most in the league.
Illinois also has the second-most BTT championship game appearances, having advanced to the title game six times - including three times under Coach Bruce Weber.
Illinois has advanced to the semifinals in all but two Tournaments (2006, 2011), with its 12 semifinal appearances the most of any school.
Illinois is 8-7 all-time in BTT games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Bruce Weber's 12 wins in the BTT are third-most among current conference coaches, and fourth-most in BTT history.
Weber also owns the second-highest BTT winning percentage among current league coaches at .632 (12-7).
Illinois is appearing in Thursday's opening round for the first time since 2008 and just the fourth time in the 15-year history of the BTT.
Illinois is 3-0 in BTT opening round games.
Illinois has received the 9 seed for the first time and is making its first appearance in the 8-9 opening round game.
Illinois and Iowa are meeting for the first time ever in the BTT. The Illini and Hawkeyes played just once during the regular season, a 65-54 Illini victory in Champaign on Feb. 26.
Only four players on the current Illini roster have previous BTT experience, combining for just nine games played and 46 points scored. D.J. Richardson has totaled 19 points in three games, Brandon Paul has tallied 14 points in three games and Tyler Griffey has registered 13 points in two games. Meyers Leonard, meanwhile, has played in one game.
Probable Starters (from the previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 4.3 2.3 1.8 41.4 FG%
G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 11.6 2.9 1.7 34.9 3FG%
G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 15.0 4.7 2.9 1.5 spg
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 245 Fr. 1.9 1.5 0.1 48.1 FG%
C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 13.4 8.3 1.3 1.9 bpg
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other
G 0 Sam Maniscalco 6-0 180 Gr. 6.2 1.9 2.3 82.1 FT%
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 6.3 2.7 1.4 53.4 FG%
F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 0.9 1.9 0.3 7.0 mpg
G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 Fr. 3.3 1.0 0.1 45.2 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 3.6 mpg
G 25 Jean Selus 6-2 195 Sr. 0.0 0.1 0.1 9 minutes
F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 4.8 3.3 0.5 41 off. reb.
G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 6 minutes
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 313-154/.670 (14th year)
At Illinois: 210-100/.677 (9th year)
Big Ten: 89-65/.578
Big Ten Tournament: 12-7/.632
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
All-Time Series Record: Illinois leads 81-66
Series Record in Big Ten Tournament: First meeting
Last Meeting: Illinois 65, Iowa 54 (Feb. 26, 2012 // Champaign)
Series Streak: Illinois W-7
Weber vs. Iowa: 13-2
Fighting Illini Trends
Illinois is undefeated this season when leading at the half (12-0).
In Big Ten play, Illinois went 6-1 when shooting better than its opponent and 0-11 when shooting worse than its opponent.
Also in Big Ten play, Illinois went 6-2 when holding its opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and 0-10 when its opponent shot 40 percent or better from behind the arc.
Meyers Leonard has scored in double figures in three of the last four games, averaging 17.3 points (69) over that stretch.
Leonard, meanwhile, has registered double digit rebounds in two of the last three games, averaging 11.7 boards (35) over that stretch.
Leonard had a double-double against Iowa on Feb. 26 with a career-high tying 22 points along with 14 rebounds. It was his eighth double-double of the season, ranking him third among Big Ten players behind Michigan State's Draymond Green and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.
Leonard is shooting 82.9 percent from the free throw line over the last eight games (29-35).
Brandon Paul has scored in double figures in three straight games, averaging 18.0 points (54) over that stretch. He combined for 11 points the previous two games.
Paul recorded his seventh 20-point game in conference play - and first in the last six games - with a game-high 22 points on Sunday at Wisconsin.
Joseph Bertrand scored in double figures for the first time in five games with 10 points on Sunday at Wisconsin.
Bertrand is shooting 53.8 percent over the last two games (7-13) after shooting 30 percent over the previous three games (3-10).
Bertrand has been a different offensive player at home compared to on the road. Bertrand scored in double figures in six of nine conference home games, averaging 10.6 points (95). He netted double figures on the road in just two of nine conference road games, meanwhile, averaging 5.1 points (46).
Freshman Tracy Abrams is averaging 9.3 points over the last six games (56), compared to his season scoring average of 4.3 points. He has scored in double figures in three of those games, led by a career-high 22-point effort Feb. 15 vs. Purdue.
Sam Maniscalco has totaled 11 assists compared to just two turnovers over the last six games.
Maniscalco has combined to make 3-of-4 from 3-point range over the last three games.
After making just one field goal from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18, freshman Nnanna Egwu has made 6-of-9 shots over the last four games.
Two Illini Receive All-Conference Recognition
Junior Brandon Paul was named third-team All-Big Ten by the conference coaches and was an honorable mention selection by the media, while sophomore Meyers Leonard was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick by both.
Paul leads the Illini in scoring (15.0 ppg), assists (2.9 apg) and steals (1.5 spg) and is second on the team in rebounding (4.7 rpg). He averaged 17.7 points in conference play to rank third in the league and recorded seven 20-point outings.
Leonard is second on the Illini in scoring (13.4 ppg) and leads the team in rebounding (8.3 rpg), field goal shooting (57.5 percent) and blocked shots (1.9 bpg). Leonard stands among the top four players in the Big Ten in the latter three categories, ranking third in rebounds, fourth in field goal percentage and first in blocks.
Illini Look to Extend Record Success against Hawkeyes
Illinois has won seven consecutive games vs. Iowa, its longest winning streak ever against the Hawkeyes in 147 meetings over the 104-year history of the series. 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 17 of 21 games, including 13 of 15 under Weber, to now hold a 81-66 advantage in the series.
Looking Back at the Last Iowa Game:
Illinois 65, Iowa 54 // Feb. 26 // Champaign // Box Score // Highlights
Illinois snapped its six-game skid with a spirited 65-54 win over Iowa on Feb. 26 at the Assembly Hall, recording its lone double-digit margin of victory in conference play. 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 the lead to 38-34 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 push 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.
Leonard led the Illini, tying his career high with 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to record his eighth double-double of the season. Paul scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half and D.J. Richardson also finished in double figures with 12 points.
Leonard's Block Party
Meyers Leonard leads the Big Ten in blocked shots on the season. His average of 1.9 blocks per game is currently tied for second on the Illini single-season list behind the record of 3.0 bpg set by Derek Holcomb in 1979. Leonard's 58 blocks, meanwhile, ranks third on the UI single-season chart. The Illini record is 86 rejections set by Holcomb in 1979. Leonard is one block away from tying Mike Tisdale (59 in 2010) for second on that list.
Paul one of Big Ten's Top Scorers
Brandon Paul was one of the Big Ten's leading scorers during conference play, averaging 17.7 points to rank third on the league list. Paul scored in double figures in all but two Big Ten games, with seven outings of 20 or more points.
Leonard Improving at Historical Level
Meyers Leonard's progression has been dramatic when comparing the numbers from his freshman year to this season. Leonard has increased his scoring average by 11.3 points and his rebounding average by 7.1 boards. Those figures rank among the biggest improvements in school history from one season to the next:
Best UI Scoring Improvement (Avg.)
1. Rick Schmidt, 1974 +17.6 ppg (21.4-3.8)
2. Skip Thoren, 1964 +14.8 ppg (20.3-5.5)
3. Meyers Leonard, 2012 +11.3 ppg (13.4-2.1)
Best UI Rebounding Improvement (Avg.)
1. Skip Thoren, 1964 +8.0 rpg (13.8-5.8)
2. Meyers Leonard, 2012 +7.1 rpg (8.3-1.2)
3. Mike Davis, 2009 +6.3 rpg (8.1-1.8)
Richardson and Paul Score 1,000
Junior guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul are the newest members of the Fighting Illini 1,000-point club, both reaching the milestone last week.
Richardson tallied his 1,000th point when he made a free throw with 1:12 left at Ohio State on Feb. 21. Paul then became the 46th player in Illini history to score 1,000 points when he nailed a 3-pointer with 13:03 left in the first half against Iowa on Feb. 26.
Paul Stepping Up After Half
In 12 of the last 15 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 14 times this season, most recently at Wisconsin on Sunday when he scored 17 of his game-high 22 points after intermission.
Five Quick Facts On ...
1. Leads Illini in scoring on the season (15.0 ppg) and ranked third in Big Ten in scoring during league play (17.7 ppg).
2. Scored in double figures in 22 times, with seven games of 20+ points.
3. Leads Illini in assists (2.9 apg) and steals (1.5 spg).
4. Scored career-high 43 points Jan. 10 vs. Ohio State (see box on page 11 for more details).
5. Has made 172 trips to the free throw line this season, the second-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (197 FTA).
1. Leads the Illini and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.3 rpg), and is second on the team in scoring (13.4 ppg).
2. First in Big Ten in blocked shots, averaging 1.9 bpg (58). On pace to have the second-best single-season average in school history.
3. Fourth in the Big Ten and 17th in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 57.5 percent (161-280).
4. Eight double-doubles on the season, ranking third among Big Ten players.
5. Increased his scoring average by 11.3 points (2.1 ppg last year), the second-best improvement in the Big Ten behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (+12.3 ppg).
1. Third on team in scoring with an average of 11.6 points.
2. Leads Illini with 68 three-pointers on the season.
3. Average of 2.2 threes per game ranks fourth in Big Ten.
4. Scored 1,000th career point Feb. 21 at Ohio State, the 45th player in Illini history to reach that milestone.
5. Sixth on school's all-time 3-point field goals list with 192 career treys.
1. Started last 16 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 12 points March 1 vs. Michigan.
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.
1. Ninth in Big Ten in field goal shooting during conference play at 52 percent (64-123).
2. UI's fourth-leading scorer averages 6.4 points, and 7.8 points during league play.
3. Recorded career-high five assists Feb. 15 vs. Purdue and again 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).
1. Averaging 4.7 points and 3.2 boards this year, nearly 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 41 offensive rebounds.
3. Scored a career-high 18 points Feb. 12 at Michigan.
4. Started four straight games from Feb. 18 through March 1.
5. Has scored in double figures four times this year after totaling three double-figure scoring games over his first two seasons.