Big Ten Tournament Notes
March 11, 2008
Champaign, Ill. -
Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament
#10 Seed ILLINOIS (13-18, 5-13)
Off The Bench
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Illini Big Ten Tournament Notes
Illinois has won two BTT championships (2003 and 2005), tied with Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State for the most titles.
Illinois also has the most BTT championship game appearances, having advanced to the title game five times.
Bruce Weber has the third-best winning percentage of any coach in BTT history at .700 (7-3).
Illinois has advanced to the semifinals in nine of the first 10 Tournaments.
Illinois is playing in the opening round for just the third time in BTT history. Illinois is 2-0 all-time in opening round games.
This is Illinois' first time in the BTT as the No. 10 seed.
Shaun Pruitt has scored 36 points and grabbed 30 rebounds in five BTT games during his career, the highest totals of any player on the Illini roster. Other current UI players with BTT experience are Brian Randle (7 G, 28 pts, 21 reb), Chester Frazier (4 G, 27 pts, 10 reb), Trent Meacham (3 G, 16 pts, 7 reb), Calvin Brock (3 G, 8 pts, 3 reb) and Chris Hicks (1 G, 0 pts, 0 reb).
Illinois is 3-3 all-time in BTT games at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Illini went 1-1 in 2002 (defeated Minnesota in quarterfinal and lost to Ohio State in semifinal), 2-1 in 2004 (defeated Indiana in quarterfinal and Michigan in semifinal and lost to Wisconsin in championship) and 0-1 in 2006 (lost to Michigan State in quarterfinal). When including a victory over Gonzaga in the 2004 Wooden Tradition, Illinois' all-time record at Conseco Fieldhouse is 4-3.
Illini Headlines ...
Pruitt became the 41st player in school history to score 1,000 career points. He hit the milestone last Saturday against Minnesota on Senior Day at Assembly Hall.
Over the last four games, Illinois' defense has held opponents to an average of 53.3 points (213) on 37.9 percent shooting (72-190), including 31.9 percent from 3-point range (23-72).
Although Illinois tied for ninth place with a record of 5-13, the Illini were only outscored by a total of three points over the entire 18-game Big Ten schedule (-0.2 ppg).
Four of Illinois' five Big Ten wins were by double figures. Illinois' average margin of victory in conference wins was 19.0 ppg (95).
All but two of Illinois' Big Ten losses were by 10 points or less. Illinois' average margin of defeat in conferences losses was 8.9 ppg (98).
Illinois has either led or been tied at halftime in all but seven games this season.
Illinois has started eight different lineups this season.
Eight different players have been the Illini's leading scorer in a game this season (Shaun Pruitt-8, Brian Randle-8, Trent Meacham-8, 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 on the season, a total of eight players average at least four points per game.
Illinois won its 19th consecutive game over Minnesota in its conference finale last Saturday. 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' strength of schedule ranks 28th in the nation and third among Big Ten teams. The Illini have played 12 games vs. the RPI Top 50, tied for the 10th-most games nationally against the current RPI Top 50. Illinois also played the toughest Big Ten schedule, facing each of the top seven teams in the standings twice.
After all 15 home games sold out again this year, there have now been 60 consecutive sellout crowds at the Assembly Hall. The streak, which began on Dec. 6, 2004, will carry into the 2008-09 season.
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.
Shaun Pruitt leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds with an average of 3.1 per game (93 total off. reb.). He ranks fourth in the league in total rebounds (7.1 avg).
In conference play, Pruitt ranked second in the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 63.9 percent (76-119).
Pruitt has scored at least nine points in all but five games this season.
The Illini are third in the Big Ten and 24th nationally in field goal percentage defense at 39.6 percent, and fourth in the league in 3-point field goal percentage defense at 32.4 percent.
Illinois ranks fifth in the conference and 25th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing an average of 61.2 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 22 games and ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 43rd in the NCAA in rebounding margin at +4.9 rpg.
Illinois leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (12.8 rpg) and ranks third in total rebounds (36.7 rpg).
Illinois' bench is contributing 20.9 points per game and has outscored the opposing bench in 23 games.
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 entered the Illinois top 50 scoring list vs. Purdue on Feb. 2. Pruitt has now totaled 1,005 career points, ranking 40th 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 661 career boards, trailing only Indiana's D.J. White.
Brian Randle collected his 500th career rebound vs. Purdue (Feb. 2). He now has 527 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.
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. Hicks scored his first basket of the season on Senior Day at the Assembly Hall last Saturday, nailing a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.
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 (12.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg) this season. Pruitt owns career totals of 1,005 points and 661 rebounds in 119 games. In addition to ranking 40th on the UI's all-time scoring list, he stands seventh in school history with a career field goal percentage of 54.5 percent (399-732). 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 (9.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.6 rpg) on the season. Randle has totaled 803 points and 527 rebounds in 117 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.
Last Time Out: Minnesota
Illinois dominated the boards, outrebounding Minnesota 45-19. The +26 advantage marked the UI's largest margin of the season and led the Illini to 20 second-chance points.
Oh So Close
The Illini have played 12 games vs. the RPI Top 50, tied for the 10th-most games nationally against the current RPI Top 50.
Illinois also faced the most difficult Big Ten schedule, playing each of the top seven teams in the standings twice.
Lock Down "D"
Only eight opponents have scored more than 70 points on the Illini this season. Illinois' defense also has allowed just four teams to shoot over 46 percent from the field.
Illinois' defense has stood out this year against two of the nation's top scoring teams. Missouri ranks 28th in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 78.1 ppg. But Illinois held the Tigers to a season-low 58 points, 20 points below its average, in a Braggin' Rights victory on Dec. 22.
Illinois held Indiana, the Big Ten's top scoring team, nearly 14 points below its season average on its homecourt on Jan. 13. The Hoosiers are averaging 75.7 points but scored just 62 vs. the Illini.
Illinois also has had three other memorable defensive efforts this season. The Illini held Loyola (MD) to 20 percent shooting (13-65) on Dec. 28, the lowest field goal percentage in the 44-year history of Assembly Hall.
Illinois held Western Carolina to 35 points on Dec. 17, the third-lowest point total in Assembly Hall history and just one point off the record-low score of 34 set by Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1985 and tied by Savannah State last season.
The Illini held Northwestern to a season-low 37 points on season-low 31 percent shooting on Jan. 27. It was the second straight meeting where the UI held NU to 37 points, as the Illini defeated the Wildcats 48-37 last year at the Assembly Hall. This marks the only two times in the last seven seasons that NU has been held under 40 points.
Dominating the Glass
*Complete Illinois Big Ten Tournament Postseason Guide available in .pdf format at top of this page.