Brandon Paul led Illinois with 17 points in Wednesday's win over St. Bonaventure.
Dec. 10, 2011
TV: ESPNU (also streamed online at ESPN3.com) - Jim Barbar, (Play-By-Play), Stephen Bardo (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 www.fightingillini.com, by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-1, or in person at the Assembly Hall North Ticket Office. Tickets for the annual Braggin' Rights contest vs. Missouri in St. Louis (Dec. 22) also are available at www.fightingillini.com.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster for the United Center game vs. UNLV (Dec. 17), the Braggin' Rights game vs. Missouri in St. Louis (Dec. 22) and the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis (March 8-11). Those tickets can be purchased online at www.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. 12.0 2.6 2.6 89.7% FT G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 13.0 2.7 1.7 1.2 spg G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 10.4 3.7 3.4 44 FTA F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 7.4 4.9 0.7 16 off. reb. C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 12.9 6.8 0.8 2.7 bpg
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 4.0 1.8 1.1 90.9% FT G 4 Crandall Head 6-4 190 So. 1.4 0.6 1.6 2 steals G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 3.1 2.3 1.6 12 off. reb. F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 1.3 2.8 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. 0.6 1.1 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. 3.2 2.2 0.3 1.2 bpg G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 3 minutes
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 305-140/.685 (14th year)
At Illinois: 202-86/.701 (9th year)
Series Notes vs. Coppin State
Series Record: Illinois leads 3-0
Last Meeting: Illinois 61, Coppin State 42 (Dec. 18, 2005 // Champaign, Ill.)
Series Streak: Illinois W-3
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 3-0
Weber vs. Coppin State: 1-0
Illinois wraps up its three-game home stand on Sunday night, hosting Coppin State at the Assembly Hall. The U of I campus is in the midst of semester exams, but no finals are held on Sunday. Finals conclude Friday, Dec. 16 and the Illini return to the court Saturday, Dec. 17 in Chicago, facing UNLV at the United Center.
At 9-0, 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 (see chart on page 4 for a list of Illinois' 10 best starts in school history). The current nine-game winning streak is 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 4. 9 Nov. 11, 2011 current 5. 8 March 11, 2005 April 2, 2005
Illinois is one of 12 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. 9:
Illinois 9-0 Murray State 9-0 Syracuse 9-0 Louisville 8-0 Ohio State 8-0 Indiana 8-0 Marquette 8-0 Kentucky 8-0 Missouri 8-0 Creighton 7-0 Baylor 7-0 Xavier 7-0
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.
Last Time Out
It wasn't pretty but the Illini found a way to win, staging a furious comeback to defeat St. Bonaventure 48-43 on Wednesday night at the Assembly Hall. Trailing 39-30 with 5:22 remaining, Illinois closed the contest on an 18-4 run, highlighted by a 1:19 stretch where Brandon Paul scored eight straight points to even the contest at 41. Paul scored 11 of the team's final 15 points while Meyers Leonard accounting for the other four, including a hook-shot with 58 seconds left that broke a 43-all tie and put the Illini ahead for good.
Illinois' defense kept it in the game on a night where the hosts could not buy a basket, setting season lows for points (48), field goal percentage (.354) and 3-point field goal percentage (.267). St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, tallied 43 points - tying the fewest by a UI opponent on the year - on 35.4 percent shooting and 26.7 percent from behind the arc. The Bonnies committed 18 turnovers, which the Illini converted into 18 points.
Paul led the way with a game-high 17 points, which also equaled his season high. He got to the free throw line 12 times (making eight) and had an impressive all-around game, finishing with five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Richardson joined Paul in double figures, scoring 11.
Illinois' 48 points marked its lowest winning score since defeating Tulsa 48-44 on Nov. 29, 2008.
Five on the Starting Five
1. Leads the team in scoring with an average of 13.0 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 4.6 points over last year (8.4 ppg), when he was the UI's fifth-leading scorer.
3. Leads the Illini in 3-point shooting at 37.9 percent (22-58) and average of 2.4 threes per contest.
4. Has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games.
5. Only Illini playing more than 28 minutes per game (30.4 mpg).
1. Leads the Illini in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and ranks second on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg).
2. One of three Big Ten players to increase his scoring average by more than 10 points over last year (+10.8), joining Penn State's Tim Frazier (+11.3) and Wisconsin's Ben Brust (+10.5).
3. Reigning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week.
4. Scored at least eight points in all nine games, with six in double figures. Last season, he had a total of two games in double figures.
5. Ranks 21st in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 62.9 percent (44-70) and 19th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 2.7 bpg.
1. Scoring average of 12.0 points ranks third on the team.
2. Leads Illini and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 89.7 percent (26-29).
3. Second on the team in 3-point shooting at 36.8 percent (14-38).
4. Has logged 30+ minutes in four of the last five games.
5. Registered his Illinois career-high of 24 points at Maryland (Nov. 29). Collegiate career high came at Bradley where he had 31 points vs. Creighton on March 5, 2010.
1. Fourth Illini scoring in double figures with average of 10.4 points.
2. Scored in double figures in each of the last three games, averaging 15.7 points over that stretch (47).
3. Season-high 17-point outings in two of last three contests (St. Bonaventure and Maryland).
4. Leads Illini in assists with 3.4 average.
5. Has made 44 trips to the free throw line this season, third-highest total among Big Ten guards behind Penn State's Tim Frazier (74 FTA) and Purdue's Lewis Jackson (56 FTA).
1. Illinois is 13-0 in games he has started during his career (9-0 this season, 4-0 in 2009-10).
2. Shooting 50 percent from the field over the last five games (14-28).
3. Averaging 7.4 points and 4.9 boards, more than tripling his scoring and rebounding averages from last season (1.6 ppg and 1.2 rpg in 2010-11).
4. Second on the Illini with 16 offensive rebounds.
5. Has scored in double figures three times this year after totaling three double-figure scoring games over his first two 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.
That's Why They're Called FREE Throws
Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in the NCAA in free throw percentage, shooting 76.2 percent (131-172). 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 seven games, topping 80 percent three times. Illinois has five players shooting better than 75 percent from the stripe on the year, led by Sam Maniscalco at 89.7 percent (fourth in Big Ten, 41st in NCAA).
Illinois averaged 4.5 blocked shots per game last year, the third-highest single-season average in school history. And while we're just nine games into the 2011-12 season, the numbers the Illini have already recorded in that category are impressive.
Illinois has registered 51 blocked shots, an average of 5.7 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 2.7 blocks (24).
Illinois Team Notes
Illinois carries a 24-game regular season non-conference winning streak at the Assembly Hall.
Four players carry a double-figure scoring average, while nine players are averaging double figures in minutes.
Illinois' top three leading scorers are separated by a total of only nine points on the year. D.J. Richardson leads the Illini with an average of 13.0 points (117), one point ahead of Meyers Leonard's 12.9 average (116) and nine points ahead of Sam Maniscalco's 12.0 average (108).
Illinois ranks 24th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing an average of 55.8 points.
Illinois' defense is holding teams to combined 34.2 percent shooting. Only one opponent (Gonzaga) has topped 42 percent from the field.
Illinois has held four of six opponents to less than 50 points at the Assembly Hall.
The Illini have outrebounded all but two opponents and own a +5.2 rebound margin.
Out of nine games, six different players have led the team in rebounding while five 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 seven straight contests.
Assembly Hall: The House of 'Paign
Illinois carries an active nine-game winning-streak at the Assembly Hall, which includes a 13-game winning streak versus non-conference opponents and a 24-game winning streak in the regular season against non-conference foes.
Illinois went 14-2 at the Assembly Hall last season, recording the team's best homecourt record in five years. The last time the Illini had fewer than two home losses was in 2006, the last of a seven-year run when the Illini either went undefeated or lost just one home game per season.
The Illini have put together one of the best homecourt records in the nation over the last 12-plus seasons, owning a record of 161-25 at The Hall. The Illini also are 110-23 (.827) at The Hall during Bruce Weber's tenure.