Men's Basketball
Game 12 Notes: #10 Illinois vs. Eastern Kentucky

 
Sam McLaurin had three blocked shots in Tuesday's win over Norfolk State.
Sam McLaurin had three blocked shots in Tuesday's win over Norfolk State.
 

Dec. 15, 2012

 Game 12: #10/10 Illinois (11-0) vs. Eastern Kentucky (9-0)
 When Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 | 5 p.m. CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | Assembly Hall (16,618) | Buy Tickets
 Television ESPNU | WatchESPN.com
 Radio Illini Sports Network | Listen (All-Access) | Sirius 132 / XM 190
 Live Stats Gametracker | Mobile Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois | Eastern Kentucky | Big Ten
 Season Stats Illinois | Eastern Kentucky | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Groce Teleconference | Brandon Paul | D.J. Richardson | Sam McLaurin
 Social Media @IlliniHoops   |  #Illini   | Facebook | YouTube

Probable Starters (from the previous game)

Pos.	No.	Name     	Ht.	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
G	13 	Tracy Abrams 	6-1	185	So.	11.4	3.4	3.4	1.4 spg
G	1	D.J. Richardson	6-3	195	Sr.	12.1	4.6	1.5	2.6  3FG/G
G	3	Brandon Paul	6-4	200	Sr.	19.0	4.7	3.5	41.3% 3FG
F	42	Tyler Griffey	6-9	220	Sr.	9.3	3.4	0.6	43.6% 3FG
F/C	32	Nnanna Egwu	6-11	235	So.	5.6	4.0	0.6	1.0 bpg

Off the Bench

Pos.	No.	Name    	Ht. 	Wt.	Yr.	PPG	RPG	APG	Other
F	0	Sam McLaurin 	6-8	220	Gr.	4.5	4.3	0.5	32 off. reb.
G	2	Joseph Bertrand	6-6	195	r-Jr.	8.4	4.3	0.8	59.0% FG
G	10	Mike LaTulip	6-0	165	Fr.	2.4	0.3	0.0	3-6  3FG
F	15	Mike Shaw	6-8	215	So.	0.9	0.5	0.1	2-3 FG
G/F	20	Myke Henry	6-6	230	So.	4.4	2.5	0.2	42.9% 3FG
G/F	21	Devin Langford	6-7	200	r-Fr.	0.7	1.4	0.2	2 steals
F/C	23	Ibby Djimde	6-8	245	So.	0.0	0.1	0.0	10 minutes
G	24	Rayvonte Rice %	6-4	240	Jr.
G	31	Kevin Berardini	6-0	165	r-Jr. 	1.0	0.0	0.4	5-6 FT
		% Rice is sitting out this season per NCAA transfer rules

Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Groce
Career Record: 96-56/.632 (5th year)
At Illinois: 10-0/1.000 (1st year)
Assistant Coaches: Dustin Ford (1st year), Paris Parham (1st year), Jamall Walker (1st year)
Special Assistant to the Head Coach: Brandon Miller (1st year)
Director of Basketball Operations:  Mark Morris (1st year)
Video Coordinator: Andy Etheridge (1st year)

Series Notes vs. Eastern Kentucky
Series Record: Illinois leads 1-0
Last Meeting:  Illinois 79, Eastern Kentucky 56 (Dec. 6, 1985 // Champaign, Ill.)
Series Streak: Illinois W-1
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 1-0
Series Streak at Champaign: Illinois W-1
Groce vs. Eastern Kentucky at Illinois: First meeting
Groce vs. Eastern Kentucky All-Time: 1-1

Ticket Information | Buy Tickets
Illinois men's basketball season and single-game tickets are currently available for all games. Season tickets in C-level are $399. Single-game tickets range from $22-$45. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-­1, or in person at the Illinois Ticket Office at the Assembly Hall.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster for the United Center game vs. Auburn on Dec. 29 and the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center, March 14-17. Tickets for those events can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Holiday Ticket Offer Going Fast | Buy Holiday Mini-Pack
Illini fans have a terrific opportunity to see the excitement that is building in Champaign for coach John Groce's program by purchasing a Big Ten mini-pack. This special holiday offer includes a ticket to three home conference match-ups - Jan. 9 vs. No. 13 Minnesota, Jan. 17 vs. Northwestern and Jan. 27 vs. No. 3 Michigan - all for a price of just $49. That is a 50 percent savings off the single-game ticket price. Response has been strong, with 2,400 ticket packages sold this week. Mini-pack tickets can be purchased online.

Home Sweet Home
The 11-0 Illini conclude a stretch of five out of six games at home, facing 9-0 Eastern Kentucky on Sunday at the Assembly Hall. Illinois owns an active 21-game non-conference homecourt winning streak and has won 33 consecutive regular season home games over non-conference opponents. This is the final non-conference game of the season at The Hall.

Groce Off to Historic Start
First-year head coach John Groce has the Illini off to an 11-0 start this season, the best debut for an Illini coach in the modern era. Groce is just the second Illini coach ever - and first in more than 100 years - to begin his UI tenure with at least 11 consecutive wins. Groce is just one win away from tying Fletcher Lane for the all-time best start of any first-year Illini coach. Lane won his first 12 games during the 1907-08 season, although 11 of those 12 victories came against YMCA/Athletic Club teams.

Still Unbeaten
With 11 victories, the Illini are currently tied with Minnesota for the most wins in Div. I this season. And at 11-0, the Illini are one of only 13 undefeated teams left in the country.

John Groce is one of only two first-year coaches at a school to have his team undefeated. LSU's Johnny Jones has the Tigers off to a 6-0 start.

Fast Out of the Gate
Illinois' 11-0 start is tied for the seventh-best in school history. The Illini's 11-game winning streak, meanwhile, is its longest in seven seasons, since winning 15 straight to open the 2005-06 season.

Break in the Schedule
After opening the season with 11 games in 33 days, the Illini wrap up non-conference play with three games over a span of 21 days prior to the Big Ten opener Jan. 2 at Purdue.

Movin' On Up
Illinois has climbed to No. 10 in the current Associated Press rankings. The Illini were 13th last week after debuting at 22nd on Nov. 26. Illinois' current ranking of 10th is its highest in the last seven seasons and highest since being ranked No. 9 in the March 6, 2006 AP poll.

Paul Reigning National and Big Ten Player of the Week
Illini senior guard Brandon Paul has been named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Big Ten Player of Week by the conference office after his 35-point performance in Illinois' 85-74 win at No. 10 Gonzaga last Saturday. Paul hit 10-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-9 from three-point range, and 10-of-11 from the free throw line en route to his season-high point total. He also added four rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. The Wooden Award and Senior CLASS Award candidate also scored 14 points in a Dec. 4 win over Western Carolina. For the week, he averaged 24.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in two games.

This is the second career Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week honor for Paul. He also was recognized on Jan. 16, 2012, following his 43-point performance in a victory over No. 5 Ohio State last season.

Five on the Starting Five

Brandon Paul
1. Big Ten's No. 2 leading scorer with an average of 19.0 points.
2. Has scored in double figures in all 11 games, with five 20-plus point performances.
3. Leads all Big Ten players in 3-point field goals with 31.
4. Also leads Illini in rebounds (4.7 rpg) and assists (3.5 apg).
5. Has made 67 trips to the free throw line, more than any other Big Ten guard.

D.J. Richardson
1. Second on the team in scoring with an average of 12.1 points.
2. Has scored in double figures in each of the last nine games.
3. Carries an active streak of 17 straight games making at least one 3-pointer.
4. Leads Illini in steals (1.6 spg).
5. Ranks fifth in school history in career 3-point field goals with 224.

Tracy Abrams
1. Third Illini scorer in double figures, averaging 11.4 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 7.1 points (4.7 last year).
3. Has made 49 field goals in 11 games, equaling his total from 32 games last season.
4. Second on the team in assists (3.4 apg).
5. Tied his career high in scoring with 22 points at Hawaii (Nov. 16).

Tyler Griffey
1. Fourth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 9.3 points.
2. Has nearly doubled his scoring average from last season (4.9 ppg).
3. Shooting 43.6 from 3-point range.
4. Has made 17 threes in 11 games after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last season.
5. Grabbed a season-high six rebounds in two of the last three games.

Nnanna Egwu
1. Started all 11 games and is averaging 22.5 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds, nearly tripling his averages from last season (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
3. Leads Illini in blocked shots with 11 (1.0 bpg).
4. Has made 27 baskets in 11 games, equaling his total in 32 games last season.
5. Has made at least one field goal in every game this year.

Notes from Tuesday's Win Over Norfolk State | Recap
• With the win, Illinois improved to 11-0, equaling the seventh-best start in Illini history. The UI's 11-game winning streak is its longest since winning 15 straight to open the 2005-06 season.
• When factoring in last year's 10-0 start, this marks this the third time that the Illini have started at least 10-0 in back-to-back seasons (1988-89/1989-90; 2004-05/2005-06).
• After trailing 24-19 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, the Illini finished the half with a 13-5 run, then extended it to 20-5 after the break to take a 39-29 lead less than two minutes into the second half.
• Norfolk State would close to within 49-47, but D.J. Richardson scored seven straight Illini points during a critical stretch, that put the Illini ahead by five points with under two minutes remaining.
Brandon Paul was the Illini's leading scorer for the sixth consecutive game, and ninth time in 11 games on the year.
• Illinois totaled 43 rebounds on the night, marking the second-most this season behind the Illini's 47 in the season-opener against Colgate. 17 of the rebounds were offensive, leading to 19 second-chance points. Five Illini had at least five boards, as Brandon Paul tied his season high with eight, Joseph Bertrand had a season-best seven, Tyler Griffey tied his season best with six, Sam McLaurin tabbed six and Nnanna Egwu pulled down five boards.

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