Senior Shaun Pruitt makes his final appearance at the Assembly Hall on Saturday when the Illini host Minnesota at Noon CT.
March 7, 2008
Champaign, Ill. -
FIGHTING ILLINI BASKETBALL
Game #31: Illinois (12-18, 4-13) vs. Minnesota (18-11, 8-9)
March 8, 2008 Noon CT BTN
Champaign, Ill. Assembly Hall (16,618)
On the Air
BTN: Roger Twibell, play-by-play; Shon Morris, expert analyst.
Illini Sports Network - 45 stations: Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Jerry Hester, expert analyst; Loren Tate, pregame/halftime/postgame interviews.
Illini Probable Starters
F - 42 Brian Randle (r-Sr, 6-8, 220, 9.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C - 55 Shaun Pruitt (Sr., 6-10, 245, 12.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
G - 3 Chester Frazier (Jr., 6-2, 190, 4.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.6 apg)
G - 1 Trent Meacham (r-Jr., 6-2, 195, 10.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.6 apg)
G - 32 Demetri McCamey (Fr., 6-3, 205, 7.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.2 apg)
Off the Bench
G - 2 Chris Hicks (Sr., 6-2, 190, 0.1 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
G - 13 Jeff Jordan (Fr., 6-1, 185, 0.9 ppg, 0.5 rpg)
G - 22 Steve Holdren (r-Jr., 6-5, 200, 1.3 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
F - 23 Rodney Alexander (Jr., 6-7, 225, 4.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
F - 24 Mike Davis (Fr., 6-9, 195, 2.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
G - 25 Calvin Brock (r-Jr., 6-5, 195, 7.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.3 apg)
F - 50 Richard Semrau (r-Fr., 6-9, 235, 0.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg)
C - 54 Mike Tisdale (Fr., 7-1, 215, 4.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg)
F - 30 Bill Cole (Fr., 6-9, 210, 2.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Overall Record: 227-100/.694 (10th year)
Big Ten: 52-29/.642
At Illinois: 124-46/.729 (5th year)
Vs. Minnesota: 8-0
Assistant Coaches: Wayne McClain (7th year), Jay Price (5th year), Jerrance Howard (1st year)
Assistant to the Head Coach: Gary Nottingham (5th year)
Trainer: Al Martindale (25th year at Illinois)
Minnesota Head Coach: Tubby Smith
Overall Record: 405-156/.722 (17th year)
At Minnesota: 18-11/.621 (1st year)
Vs. Illinois All-Time: 1-1
Series Notes: Minnesota
Illinois leads the all-time series 111-60 and owns a 67-16 advantage in games played in Champaign. Illinois has won nine straight at home over Minnesota, with the Gophers' last win at Assembly Hall coming in 1996.
Illinois carries an 18-game winning streak over Minnesota into Saturday's game, a streak that began with the 1999 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal. It is the longest active winning streak by any Big Ten school over a conference opponent.
Hicks is in his third season with the Illini after making the team through walk-on tryouts. A three-year letterwinner from Chicago, the Orange Krush fan favorite will graduate in August with a degree in kinesiology.
Pruitt, a native of Aurora, is a four-year letterwinner and three-year starting center. One of the top big men in the Big Ten, he is the Illini's leading scorer (12.7 ppg) and rebounder (7.0 rpg) this season. Pruitt owns career totals of 998 points and 653 rebounds in 118 games. In addition to ranking 41st on the UI's all-time scoring list, he stands seventh in school history with a career field goal percentage of 54.5 percent. Pruitt will graduate in May with a degree in speech communications.
Randle hails from East Peoria and is a four-year letterwinner and three-year starting forward. He ranks third on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.4 rpg) on the season. Randle has totaled 799 points and 515 rebounds in 116 career games. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Randle received a bachelor's degree in agri-finance last May and will earn a master's degree in sport management in August.
Illini Headlines ...
Looking ahead to next week's Big Ten Tournament, Illinois will begin play on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT as the No. 10 seed.
Shaun Pruitt is just two points away from becoming the 41st player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
Over the last three games, Illinois' defense has held opponents to an average of 51.7 points (155) on 37.1 percent shooting (53-143), including 26.5 percent from 3-point range (13-49).
Illinois' four Big Ten wins have all been by double figures. Illinois' average margin of victory in conference wins is 21.5 ppg (86).
All but two of Illinois' Big Ten losses have been by 10 points or less. Illinois' average margin of defeat in conferences losses is 8.9 ppg (98).
Although Illinois sits in 10th place with a record of 4-13, the Illini have only been outscored by a total of 12 points through 17 Big Ten games (-0.7 ppg).
Illinois won its 18th consecutive game over Minnesota on Feb. 12. That is the longest active winning streak by any Big Ten school over a conference opponent. It also is the longest winning streak in Illini history over a Big Ten opponent.
Illinois has either led or been tied at halftime in all but seven games this season.
Illinois' strength of schedule ranks 26th in the nation and first among Big Ten teams. The Illini have played 11 games vs. the RPI Top 50, tied for the 10th-most games nationally against the current RPI Top 50.
There have been 59 consecutive sellout crowds at the Assembly Hall entering the next home game Saturday vs. Minnesota. The streak began on Dec. 6, 2004.
Illinois wraps up Big Ten play at home for the first time since 2003 and just the fifth time in the last 23 years.
Illinois was the only Big Ten school that twice played four of five games on the road during the conference schedule. In fact, Penn State was the only other Big Ten Team that had a stretch of four out of five league games away from home.
Illinois has started eight different lineups this season.
Eight different players have been the Illini's leading scorer in a game this season (Brian Randle-8, Shaun Pruitt-8, Trent Meacham-7, Calvin Brock-4, Demetri McCamey-3, Rodney Alexander-2, Mike Tisdale-2, Chester Frazier-1).
While Illinois has only two players averaging in double figures, a total of eight players average over four points per game.
Illinois shot a season's-best 84.2 percent from the free throw line at Iowa on March 1, knocking down 16-of-19 from the stripe.
Demetri McCamey nearly made history at Minnesota (Feb. 12), falling two rebounds shy of recording a triple-double, which would have been the third triple-double in school records. McCamey scored 10 points, grabbed a career-high eight boards, and dished out a career-best 11 assists against the Gophers. It is the most assists by an Illini since Chester Frazier had 11 last season vs. IUPUI (Dec. 6, 2006).
Trent Meacham shot a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the arc at Minnesota (Feb. 12), tying the best 3-point field goal percentage by a Big Ten player this year (Wisconsin's Jon Leuer also made 5-of-5 treys vs. Michigan).
McCamey scored a career-high 31 points vs. Indiana on Feb. 7. It was the highest point total by an Illini player in two years, since Dee Brown scored 34 vs. Michigan State (Jan. 5, 2006). It also was the top-scoring performance by an Illini freshman in 14 years, since Kiwane Garris had 33 points vs. Iowa (Jan. 19, 1994).
Shaun Pruitt leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds with an average of 3.1 per game (91 total off. reb.). He ranks fourth in the league in total rebounds (7.0 avg).
In conference play, Pruitt ranks second in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 64.7 percent (75-116).
Pruitt has scored at least nine points in 25 of the 29 games he has appeared in this season.
The Illini are third in the Big Ten and 24th nationally in field goal percentage defense at 39.6 percent, and third in the league in 3-point field goal percentage defense at 32.0 percent.
Illinois ranks fourth in the conference and 25th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing an average of 61.3 points per game.
Only eight teams have scored more than 70 points against the Illini this year.
Illinois has had only four opponents shoot better than 46 percent from the field on the season.
Illinois has outrebounded its opponent in 21 games and ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 43rd in the NCAA in rebounding margin at +4.2 rpg.
Illinois' bench is contributing 20.9 points per game and has outscored the opposing bench in 22 games.
Shaun Pruitt entered the Illinois top 50 scoring list vs. Purdue on Feb. 2. Pruitt has now totaled 998 career points, ranking 41st on the all-time list.
Pruitt grabbed his 600th career rebound vs. Northwestern on Jan. 27. Pruitt is the Big Ten's second-leading active rebounder with 653 career boards, trailing only Indiana's D.J. White.
Brian Randle collected his 500th career rebound vs. Purdue (Feb. 2). He now has 515 career boards.
Pruitt and Randle combined for 39 points vs. Purdue on Feb. 2, the senior duo's highest scoring total of the season. Their previous high was 38 points vs. both Michigan on Jan. 16 and Miami (OH) on Dec. 20.
Shaun Pruitt was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 24 after averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over three games vs. Western Carolina, Miami (OH) and Missouri. He became the first Illini to earn Player of the Week honors since James Augustine on Dec. 5, 2005.
Last Time Out: Michigan State
Illinois started strong but could not maintain its performance for 40 minutes in a 59-51 loss to No. 17 Michigan State Thursday night at Assembly Hall. The Illini opened up a 23-13 lead midway through the first half but the Spartans fought back to tie it at 31-all at halftime. MSU then scored seven straight points after intermission to open up a 7-point advantage. Illinois pulled to within three with seven minutes left but could come no closer as the Spartans won in Champaign for the first time since 2002.
Shaun Pruitt led the Illini with 13 points and six rebounds. Brian Randle came off the bench during the second half after missing the two previous games with a separated shoulder. Randle scored seven points in 10 minutes of action.
A Look Back at the Last Minnesota Game
Illinois put together one of its most dominating road performances in recent years, defeating Minnesota 84-60 on Feb. 12. The win marked Illinois' 18th consecutive victory over the Gophers, extending a school record streak that began in 1999.
Four Illini reached double figures led by Trent Meacham, who scored 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range to tie the top 3-point field goal percentage by a Big Ten player on the season.
Illinois shot 58.8 percent on the night, its highest field goal percentage in three years. The UI's 24-point margin of victory was its largest on the road in eight seasons.
Oh So Close
Illinois has either led or been tied at halftime in 12 losses ... Illinois has either led, been tied or trailed by no more than three points with less than two minutes remaining in 10 losses ... Illinois has led during the second half in 10 losses ... 13 of Illinois' losses have been by eight points or less ... Illinois is 3-13 on the year in games decided by less than nine points.
*For complete set of Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at top of this page.