Series Notes vs. St. Francis
Series Record: First meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Series Streak: N/A
Record at Champaign: First meeting
Series Streak at Champaign: N/A
Groce vs. St. Francis at Illinois: First meeting
Groce vs. St. Francis All-Time: 1-0
Notes from Friday's Season Opening Win
Illinois won its 14th straight season opener with the 75-55 victory over Colgate.
John Groce recorded a victory in his Illini debut, becoming the 10th straight coach to win his first game as Illinois head coach (see box on P. 4 for more details).
Brandon Paul continued his strong play in season openers, leading the Illini with 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Over his career, Paul has averaged 18.5 points in season openers (74 points in four games). Paul had 14 points in last year's opener against Loyola, 18 points in just 21 minutes in the 2010 opener versus UC-Irvine, and made his collegiate debut with 22 points against SIU-Edwardsville in 2009.
Illinois made 13 three-pointers, topping last year's season-high (11). Ten of the 13 treys came in the first half.
The Illini outrebounded Colgate 47-to-32, including a 19-4 edge on the offensive glass. Six different players grabbed at least six boards, led by Brandon Paul's eight. Myke Henry pulled down a career-high seven, while D.J. Richardson and Sam McLaurin had seven apiece as well.
It was Illinois' best production from 3-point range since the 2010-11 Big Ten opener, when the Illini hit 13 at Iowa (Dec. 29, 2010). And it marked the UI's best effort at the Assembly Hall, meanwhile, since the 2008-09 season when the Orange and Blue connected on 13 from behind the arc against Indiana (Jan. 9, 2009).
New Era of Fighting Illini Basketball John Groce is in his first season as head coach of the Fighting Illini after taking the Ohio Bobcat program to new heights during his four seasons in Athens. Groce led the Bobcats to Mid-American Conference Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in both 2010 and 2012. Ohio won a school-record 29 games last season and advanced to the Sweet 16 with victories over No. 4 seed Michigan and No. 12 seed South Florida before falling to top-seeded North Carolina in overtime in the regional final. The Bobcats finished the season ranked 25th in the Coaches poll. Groce recorded a total of three NCAA Tournament wins at Ohio, as the Bobcats also defeated No. 3 seed Georgetown in 2010.
The Orange Krush student section held "Orange Hush" on Friday to welcome Coach Groce to the Illinois sidelines. As a tribute to Groce's alma mater, Taylor University, Krush and the entire Assembly Hall crowd replicated Taylor's famous tradition of "Silent Night," where at one designated game each season, the entire gym remains silent from tip-off until the Trojans score their 10th point. When that point is scored, the crowd then erupts into a wild celebration.
The idea was a success, as The Hall was eerily quiet from the opening tip until the 15:58 mark of the first half, when Myke Henry nailed a 3-pointer to give Illinois it's 10th, 11th and 12th points of the night and send the Krush and Assembly Hall crowd into a frenzy.