Cancun Challenge MVP D.J. Richardson and the Illini host Chicago State on Sunday at Noon.
Nov. 26, 2011
TV: BTN - Eric Collins, (Play-By-Play), Eddie Johnson (Analyst)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - Brian Barnhart (Play-By-Play), Jerry Hester (Analyst), Loren Tate (Reports)
Illinois men's basketball tickets are currently available. Single-game tickets in C-level range from $22-$40. Tickets can be purchased online at fightingillini.com, by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-1, or in person at the Assembly Hall North Ticket Office.
Tickets also are available through Ticketmaster for the United Center game vs. UNLV (Dec. 17) and the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis (March 8-11). Those tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
PROBABLE STARTERS (from the previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 0 Sam Maniscalco 6-0 180 Gr. 12.2 2.0 2.6 52.6% FG G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 14.0 2.8 1.4 41.4% 3FG G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 9.0 3.4 3.6 20 FTA F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 7.2 6.0 0.4 11 off. reb. C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 12.6 7.6 0.6 18 blocks
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 5.8 3.0 1.4 90% FT G 4 Crandall Head 6-4 190 So. 3.0 0.0 2.0 1 steal G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 4.0 2.4 0.4 6 steals F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 0.4 3.4 0.2 1 steal G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 Fr. 2.0 0.0 0.0 1 block G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 Fr. F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 250 Fr. 0.0 1.0 0.0 10 minutes G 25 Jean Selus 6-2 195 Sr. 0.0 0.0 0.0 3 minutes F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 245 Fr. 2.8 2.8 0.4 10 blocks G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 2 minutes
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 301-140/.683 (14th year)
At Illinois: 198-86/.697 (9th year)
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. Chicago State
Series Record: Illinois leads 9-0
Last Meeting: Illinois 89, Chicago State 50 (Dec. 10, 2008 // Champaign, Ill.)
Series Streak: Illinois W-9
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 9-0
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-9
Weber vs. Chicago State: 2-0
The Illini are 5-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season, when the UI won its first six games.
Illini Win Triple Cancun Challenge - Richardson MVP, Maniscalco All-Tourney
Illinois went 4-0 to win the Cancun Challenge, claiming its first tournament title since the 2008 South Padre Island Invitational. D.J. Richardson was chosen as Tournament MVP while Sam Maniscalco was voted to the All-Tournament team. Illinois defeated SIU Edwardsville and Lipscomb at the Assembly Hall before heading to the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, where it defeated Richmond in the semifinal and Illinois State in the championship.
The Illini jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead on Richmond and outscored the Spiders 16-3 over the final seven minutes of the first half to take an 18-point lead into the locker room (37-19). Richmond began to chip away at the deficit midway through the second half, making it a 6-point game with eight minutes remaining and getting as close as five points with 1:26 left. But the Illini made 4-of-5 free throws down the stretch to close it out and give Bruce Weber his 300th career coaching victory.
Meyers Leonard led the way with a career-high 22 points. Sam Maniscalco also tallied a career high with 19 points and D.J. Richardson added 15. Illinois outrebounded Richmond 38-23 and held a commanding 21-to-2 advantage in second-chance points. The UI also shot 82.1 percent at the line on 23-of-28 accuracy.
While the Illini started hot against Richmond, the opposite occurred the following night against ISU. The Redbirds scored the scored 10 of the game's first 13 points three minutes into the contest. ISU then went nine minutes without a field goal as the Illini went on a 20-3 during that span to take a 23-13 lead. Illinois led by seven at halftime, but ISU roared out of the locker room, outscoring the Orange and Blue 17-3 in the first four minutes of the second half. That gave the Redbirds a 44-37 lead and had the Illini facing its largest deficit of the season. But the Illini fought back once again to regain the lead, and Maniscalco hit the biggest shot of the tournament, a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 53 seconds left to put the Illini up by five. That was the first play in a hectic final minute that ended when the Redbirds missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds left. Brandon Paul then sealed the title by hitting a pair of free throws with :0.8 left.
The Illini had balanced scoring against ISU, led by Maniscalco's 14 points to go along with 13 from Richardson, 12 from Paul and 10 from Leonard. Illinois was outrebounded for the first time on the season and was outscored by nine points from 3-point range as ISU shot 50 percent from behind the arc. But the Illini took care of the basketball well, recording a season-low seven turnovers, and shot 88.2 percent from the stripe by making 15-of-17.
Illini Great Eddie Johnson on the Mic
Former Fighting Illini star Eddie Johnson has joined the BTN as an expert analyst and will return to campus on Sunday to call his first Illinois game. His number 33 hangs from the Assembly Hall rafters as part of the Honored Jerseys program. Johnson finished his Illini career as the school's career scoring leader, currently ranked seventh with 1,692 points. The two-time team MVP earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 1981 and hit one of the biggest shots in Assembly hall history with a buzzer-beater from the baseline to give Illinois a 57-55 upset against top-ranked and eventual national champion Michigan State on Jan. 11, 1979. Johnson went on to an impressive 17-year NBA career, scoring more than 19,000 points and solidifying his reputation as one of the league's all-time best shooters.
Illinois Team Notes
Illinois carries a 21-game regular season non-conference winning streak at the Assembly Hall.
The Illini used a different starting lineup in each of the first three games. However, the lineup the UI debuted in that third game has now started three straight contests.
Out of five games, four different players have led the team in rebounding while three different players have led the team in scoring.
The Illini have outrebounded four of five opponents and own a +8.4 rebound margin. Much of the advantage has been on the offensive glass, where the Illini have converted 73 second-chance points, an average of 14.6 points per game.
Illinois' defense is holding teams to combined 34.7 percent shooting. No opponent has shot 41 percent or better.
Opponents are shooting better from 3-point range (38.5 percent) than the field (34.7 percent) on the year.
Opponents have yet to exceed 27 points in the first half.
10 players are averaging double figures in minutes.
The Illini bench has outscored the opposing bench in four of five games. Illinois reserves are averaging 16.2 points per game and are outscoring opponent reserves by an average of 5.6 points.
The Illini are averaging 7.8 blocks per game, ranking fourth in the NCAA.
Illinois did a much better job cutting down its turnovers in Cancun. The Illini averaged 18.3 turnovers during its first three games (55) but has averaged just 8.0 turnovers over its last two games (16).
Illini Player Notes
After ranking fifth on the team in scoring last season, D.J. Richardson currently leads the Illini in scoring with an average of 14.0 points. He has increased his scoring average by 5.6 points over last year (8.4 ppg).
Held to just five points in the season opener, Richardson has reached double figures in each of the last four games. Over that four-game stretch, he has averaged 16.3 points (65) on 52.4 percent shooting (22-42) and 50 percent 3-point shooting (11-22).
Richardson's current 4-game double-figure scoring streak is his longest since doing so for five straight games last season (Nov. 30-Dec. 18).
Meyers Leonard has scored at least eight points in all five games, with three in double figures. Last season, he had a total of two games in double figures.
Leonard averaged a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in Cancun while playing 73 of a possible 80 minutes.
Leonard has 18 blocked shots on the season. All but two of those blocks occurred in three games, as he had a season-high six blocks vs. Loyola Chicago and five each vs. SIU Edwardsville and Richmond.
Leonard leads the Illini in both free throws (18) and free throw attempts (22) while shooting 81.8 percent from the line.
Leonard has 63 points in five games after scoring 68 points during as a freshman. He also has 38 rebounds on the year after totaling 41 boards last season.
Sam Maniscalco is shooting nearly 53 percent on the season. He has made 50 percent or better from the field in each of the five games.
Maniscalco has scored in double figures in each of the last three games, averaging 16.0 points (48).
Brandon Paul has reached double figures in three of five games. After being held scoreless against Richmond for the first time in 30 games, Paul scored 12 points vs. ISU and also dished out a career-high six assists without a turnover.
Joseph Bertrand has played at least 16 minutes in all five games. Last year, he recorded double figure minutes only once.
Bertrand is averaging 7.7 points (23) on 61.5 percent shooting (8-13) over the last three games.
Bertrand has scored 29 points in five games after totaling 17 points all of last season.
Tyler Griffey has 30 rebounds in five games, equaling his rebounding total from last season. He has totaled 36 points, meanwhile, six shy of his scoring total from last year (42).