Illini to Face Miami Sunday in NCAA 3rd Round
March 23, 2013
Series Notes vs. Miami
Notes from Friday's NCAA Tournament Victory Over Colorado
Brandon Paul led the Illini in scoring with 17 points, including 9-of-10 shooting at the free throw line. It was the 22nd time this season Paul had led Illinois in scoring - including each of the last five games - and the 40th time in his career.
The Illini took a 37-21 lead into halftime after outscoring Colorado 26-6 over the final 12:27 of the half, including a 13-0 run over the final 7:06, which was capped by a Tracy Abrams 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
Colorado began the second half on a 23-2 run to take a 44-39 lead with 9:28 left, but the Illini countered with a 16-2 run of their own over the next nine minutes to pull away.
The Fighting Illini defense held the Buffaloes to just five points on 2-of-13 shooting and forced five turnovers over the last 9:20 of the game, turning the five-point deficit into an eight-point victory.
The Illini won despite making just three baskets in the second half (3-22 FG), with all three buckets coming in a span of 2:27. Illinois missed its first 14 shots after intermission before getting a layup from Tracy Abrams at the 8:33 mark, and then back-to-back 3-pointers from D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul at 6:30 and 6:06, respectively, to take a 48-44 lead with 6:06 left. The Illini scored their final nine points of the game from the free throw line, hitting 9-of-14 over the final 5:18.
The Illini defense limited Colorado leading scorer and first-team All-Pac 12 selection Spencer Dinwiddie (15.6 ppg) to just six points on 1-of-8 shooting (0-5 3FG), his lowest scoring output since he had five points on 1-of-7 FG against USC on Jan. 10.
The Illini were +13 in points off turnovers, scoring 21 points off 15 Colorado miscues, while allowing just eight points on 12 turnovers of their own. The UI defense also kept the Buffaloes from scoring a single second-chance point despite allowing CU eight offensive rebounds.
Illinois got to the line more often than Colorado, attempting 24 free throws to CU's 13. The Illini are now 15-1 on the season when shooting more free throws than their opponent.
Illinois outrebounded Colorado (37-36), outrebounding its opponent for the first time in the last five games and improving to 14-2 on the season when outrebounding the opponent.
Tracy Abrams dished out a game-high six assists, as Illinois improved to 9-2 this season in games where Abrams records at least five assists.
With 23 wins, Illinois has secured its most victories since the 2008-09 season (24) and has exceeded last season's win total (17) by six games.
The six-win improvement is Illinois' best since winning eight more games in 2008-09 compared to 2007-08.
Illinois has now won eight of its last 12 games.
The Illini have now held their opponent to less than 60 points in eight of their last 10 wins.
Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson both played their 137th game as Illini today, moving into a tie for fourth on the Illinois career games played list with Dee Brown (2003-06) and James Augustine (2003-06). They're just two shy of the school record of 139, which is shared by Demetri McCamey (2008-11) and Mike Tisdale (2008-11).
Illini NCAA Tournament Notes
This is Illinois' 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 14 years, and 25th in the last 33 years.
Following the win over Colorado, Illinois now has a 40-30 (.571) all-time record in the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois' victory over Colorado was its second straight in the Round of 64 (UNLV in 2011). Illinois is now 16-6 in the opening round since the Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and has won in the Round of 64 eleven times in its last 13 appearances.
Illinois faces Miami on Sunday looking to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, when the Illini went on to finish as the national runner-up.
John Groce has led Illinois to the NCAA Tournament in his first year at the helm of the Fighting Illini program. Groce is making his third career NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach. He led Ohio to the Sweet 16 last season and the Round of 32 in 2010.
Following Illinois' victory over Colorado, Groce's career NCAA Tournament record is now 4-2. Groce is now 3-0 in opening round games as a head coach.
When combining his tenure as an assistant and head coach, Groce's teams own a record of 16-8 (.667) in the NCAA Tournament. Groce is coaching in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time, after also advancing to six Tournaments as an assistant coach. Groce's teams are now a perfect 9-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, winning in the Round of 64 this season, along with twice at Ohio (2012, 2010), twice at Ohio State (2007, 2006), three times at Xavier (2004, 2003, 2002) and once at Butler (2001).
Groce is the fourth-consecutive Illinois head coach to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament in his first season. He also is the fourth straight Illini head coach to win an NCAA Tournament game in his first season, and looks to become the third straight coach to lead the Illini to the Sweet 16 in his first season.
Illinois is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in Austin. The Illini are now 1-1 in Austin following the win over Colorado. In 1990, the No. 5 Illini lost to No. 12 Dayton, 88-86.
Illinois is a No. 7 seed for just the second time, and improves to 1-1 as a #7 with the win over Colorado. In 1983, the No. 7 Illini lost to No. 10 Utah, 52-49.
Illinois improved to 29-14 as a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. Next up the Illini face No. 2 Miami. The Illini are 2-9 in the Tournament when seeded lower than their opponent.
Illinois is 1-7 all-time versus Top-2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, going 0-5 against No. 1 seeds and 1-2 against No. 2 seeds. Illinois' lone Tournament win over a Top-2 seed came in 1989, when the No. 1 Illini defeated No. 2 Syracuse in the Midwest Regional Final, 89-86.
Illinois is 1-0 all-time vs. Miami, winning 86-78 in Miami on Dec. 12, 1968.
Illinois and Miami played three common opponents this season: Hawaii, Michigan State and Georgia Tech. Here are how the Illini and Hurricanes fared against those teams:
With victories over Gonzaga and Indiana, Illinois is one of just two teams in the country to beat two different No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds, along with Butler.
Illinois also defeated Ohio State, giving the Illini a total of three wins combined over No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. Illinois is one of just three schools nationally to defeat three Top-2 seeds, along with Duke and Wisconsin.
The Big Ten went 6-1 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, advancing six teams (all but Wisconsin) to the Round of 32. This is the second time in Tournament history that the Big Ten has had six teams reach the Round of 32 (1994).
The Big Ten had seven teams participating in the 2013 NCAA Tournament: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota Ohio State and Wisconsin. That ties the most bids the conference has ever received, equaling the seven Big Ten teams that participated in the 1990, 2009 and 2011 Tournaments. Illinois has been a participant all four times the Big Ten has sent seven teams to the Tournament.
Taking on the Top 10 Again
Only two Illini teams have ever won at least four games over top 10-ranked foes, the 1989 squad (5) and the 2001 squad (4).