Tyler Griffey and the Illini carry a 23-game regular season non-conference winning streak into Wednesday's game.
Dec. 6, 2011
TV: ESPN2 (also streamed online at ESPN3.com) - Jim Barbar, (Play-By-Play), Doug Gottlieb (Analyst)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - Brian Barnhart (Play-By-Play), Jerry Hester (Analyst), Loren Tate (Reports)
Satellite Radio: Sirius - 93, XM - 192
Illinois Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 304-140/.685 (14th year)
At Illinois: 201-86/.700 (9th year)
Series Notes vs. St. Bonaventure
Series Record: First Meeting
Weber vs. St. Bonaventure: First Meeting
Probable Starters (from the previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 0 Sam Maniscalco 6-0 180 Gr. 12.9 2.4 2.6 52.5% FG G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 13.3 3.0 1.8 1.1 spg G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 9.6 3.5 3.3 32 FTA F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 7.6 5.3 0.8 15 off. reb. C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 13.4 6.6 0.8 2.9 bpg
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 4.5 2.0 1.3 90.9% FT G 4 Crandall Head 6-4 190 So. 1.8 0.8 2.0 2 steals G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 3.5 2.3 1.8 10 off. reb. F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 1.5 3.0 0.1 50% FG G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 Fr. 4.5 1.3 0.3 50% FG G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 Fr. F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 250 Fr. 0.7 1.2 0.0 1 FG G 25 Jean Selus 6-2 195 Sr. 0.0 0.2 0.2 5 minutes F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 245 Fr. 3.6 2.5 0.4 1.4 bpg G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 3 minutes
At 8-0, Illinois is off to its best start since 2005-06, when the UI went undefeated in non-conference play (14-0) and won its first 15 games. The current eight-game winning streak equals the fourth longest of the Weber era, and the longest since the 15 straight victories to open the 2005-06 season. Here is a list of the top five
Illini winning streaks under Weber: Rk. Streak First Win Last Win 1. 29 Nov. 19, 2004 March 3, 2005 2. 15 Nov. 18, 2005 Jan. 5, 2006 3. 12 Jan. 31, 2004 March 13, 2004 T4. 8 Nov. 11, 2011 current T4. 8 March 11, 2005 April 2, 2005
Illinois is one of 15 remaining undefeated teams in Division I. Three of the nation's unbeaten squads are in the Big Ten Conference, with Indiana and Ohio State joining the Illini. Here is a list of the nation's remaining undefeated teams, through Dec. 5:
Murray State 9-0 Tulane 9-0 Harvard 8-0 ILLINOIS 8-0 Indiana 8-0 Kentucky 8-0 Ohio State 8-0 Syracuse 8-0 Baylor 7-0 Creighton 7-0 Louisville 7-0 Marquette 7-0 Missouri 7-0 Xavier 6-0 Kansas State 5-0
Illini Return to the Polls
Illinois appears in both Top 25 polls this week, earning a national ranking for the first time this season. The Illini check in at No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 24 in the Associated Press poll. This is the UI's first ranking since the final week of January last season when the Illini were 20th in AP and 21st in Coaches.
Illinois has now been nationally ranked in seven of Weber's nine seasons.
Leonard Big Ten Co-Player of the Week
Meyers Leonard was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Monday, earning the first conference weekly award of his career and becoming the first Illini to win the award since Demetri McCamey last season (Jan. 3).
Leonard receives the honor after averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 75 percent from the floor in a pair of wins last week. Leonard recorded 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting with six boards and a game-high three blocks in the Illini's road win at Maryland in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, then tallied a game-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting with six boards in the victory against No. 19/18 Gonzaga.
Leonard shares the award with Michigan State's Keith Appling.
Last Time Out
The Illini beat No. 19 Gonzaga on Saturday by the score of 82-75, defeating the highest ranked non-conference foe at home since topping No. 1 Wake Forest on Dec. 1, 2004. Illinois led nearly the entire way, trailing just twice early (2-0, 6-4). Each time Gonzaga made a run, the Illini answered. After the Bulldogs evened the contest early in the second half, the Orange and Blue reeled off seven straight points to open up 45-38 advantage with 15:54 remaining. Gonzaga later got to within two at 58-56, but the Illini outscored the Zags 11-4 over the next four minutes to make it a 69-60 game with 4:55 left. Illinois maintained at least a two-possession lead the rest of the way.
Meyers Leonard led the Illini with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting and six rebounds. D.J. Richardson nailed a season-high four three-pointers on his way to 19 points, one shy of his career high. Brandon Paul added 13 points and Sam Maniscalco had 10 to go along with season highs of six assists and four steals, the most by an Illini this season.
That's Why They're Called FREE Throws
Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in the NCAA in free throw percentage, shooting 77.4 percent through eight games (120-155). It's only December, but for the sake of comparison, the UI single-season team record for free throw shooting is 74.4 percent, set by the 1996-67 squad.
The Illini have made 75 percent or better in five of the last six games, topping 80 percent three times. Illinois has four players shooting better than 80 percent from the stripe on the year, led by Sam Maniscalco at 89.7 percent (fourth in Big Ten, 41st in NCAA).
Hot Shooting at The Hall
Illinois has shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of the last three home games, combining for 53.9 percent accuracy in victories over Lipscomb, Chicago State and Gonzaga (96-178).
Illinois averaged 4.5 blocked shots per game last year, the third-highest single-season average in school history. And while we're just eight games into the 2011-12 season, the numbers the Illini have already recorded in that category are impressive.
Illinois has registered 49 blocked shots, an average of 6.1 blocks per game, which leads the Big Ten and ranks 19th in the NCAA. Meyers Leonard, meanwhile, ranks 19th in the individual national rankings, averaging 2.9 blocks (23).
Illinois Team Notes
Illinois carries a 23-game regular season non-conference winning streak at the Assembly Hall.
Illinois ranks 24th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing an average of 57.4 points.
Illinois' defense is holding teams to combined 35 percent shooting. Only one opponent (Gonzaga) has topped 42 percent from the field.
The Illini have outrebounded all but one opponent and own a +7.1 rebound margin. 10 Illini players are averaging double figures in minutes.
Out of eight games, six different players have led the team in rebounding while four different players have led the team in scoring.
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 six straight contests.
The Illini bench has outscored the opposing bench in five games. Illinois reserves are averaging 18.1 points per game and are outscoring opponent reserves by an average of 5.7 points.
After averaging 18.3 turnovers during its first three games (55), Illinois has averaged just 10 turnovers over its last five games (50).
Illini Player Notes
Illinois' top three leading scorers are separated by a total of only four points on the year. Meyers Leonard leads the Illini with an average of 13.4 points (107), one point ahead of D.J. Richardson's 13.3 average (106) and four points ahead of Sam Maniscalco's 12.9 average (103).
Leonard has scored in double figures in five straight games, averaging 15.2 points over that stretch (76).
Leonard has scored at least eight points in all eight games, with six in double figures. Last season, he had a total of two games in double figures.
Leonard ranks 21st in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 61.2 percent (41-67).
Leonard has 23 blocked shots on the season, leading the Big Ten and ranking 19th nationally with an average of 2.9 blocks per game.
Leonard has 107 points in eight games after scoring 68 points during as a freshman. He also has 53 rebounds on the year after totaling 41 boards last season.
Leonard averaged a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in Cancun while playing 73 of a possible 80 minutes.
D.J. Richardson ranks second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.3 points. He has increased his scoring average by 4.9 points over last year (8.4 ppg), when he was the UI's fifth-leading scorer.
Richardson is coming off a 19-point performance in Saturday's win over Gonzaga, just one shy of his career high. He has now scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.
Maniscalco is shooting nearly 53 percent on the season and has made 50 percent or better from the field in seven of eight games.
Maniscalco has scored in double figures in five of the last six games, averaging 15 points (90).
Maniscalco registered his Illinois career-high of 24 points last Tuesday at Maryland. His collegiate career high came at Bradley where he had 31 points vs. Creighton on March 5, 2010.
Brandon Paul has scored in double figures in consecutive games for the first time this season, averaging 15.0 points over the last two games.
Tyler Griffey has 61 points in eight games, already surpassing his total of 42 points last season. Griffey also has 42 rebounds on the year, exceeding his total of 30 boards last year.