Series Notes vs. Missouri
Series Record: Illinois leads 27-15
Record at St. Louis: Illinois leads 20-11
Last Meeting: #9 Missouri 78, #25 Illinois 74 (12/22/11 // St. Louis) | Recap
Series Streak: Missouri W-3
Groce vs. Missouri: First meeting
Braggin' Rights Notes | See pages 2-4 here for Braggin' Rights highlights
Illinois owns a 20-11 advantage over Missouri in Braggin' Rights games played in St. Louis ... Illinois won eight consecutive games from 1983-90 and won nine of the first 10 games in St. Louis ... After Missouri won seven of nine games from 1991-99, Illinois won nine straight games from 2000-08, the longest winning streak in the history of the series ... Mizzou has now won three straight games heading into Saturday's contest ... Illinois is ranked in the Top 25 entering the Braggin' Rights for the third straight year. The Illini are 13-5 in the series when ranked ... Illinois is currently ranked No. 10, its highest ranking for the Braggin' Rights since entering at No. 6 in 2005. Illinois is 8-0 in the Braggin' Rights when ranked in the Top 10 ... Both teams are ranked in the Top 25 for the third straight year. The Illini are 6-2 when both teams are ranked ... Illinois is 9-5 when playing against ranked Missouri teams in the Braggin' Rights ... When the Braggin' Rights series began, Illinois' Lou Henson and Missouri's Norm Stewart were in charge of their respective programs. Since then, every Illini coach has won his inaugural Braggin' Rights, a streak that first-year head coach John Groce hopes to see continue. In Lon Kruger's first year in 1996, the Illini won 85-69. In Bill Self's first year in 2000, the Illini won 86-81 in overtime. And in Bruce Weber's first year in 2003, the Illini won 71-70 ... Illinois has one St. Louis area product on its roster in senior forward Tyler Griffey from Wildwood, Mo. ... The St. Louis area also will continue to be represented in Illinois' future roster, as Top-100 recruit Malcolm Hill of Belleville (Ill.) East High School signed a letter of intent in with the Illini in November.
Groce Off to Historic Start
First-year head coach John Groce has the Illini off to a 12-0 start this season. He is just the second Illini coach ever - and first in more than 100 years - to begin his UI tenure with 12 consecutive wins, tying Fletcher Lane for the all-time best start of any first-year Illini coach. Lane also won his first 12 games during the 1907-08 season, although 11 of those 12 victories came against YMCA/Athletic Club teams.
With 12 victories, the Illini currently have the most wins in Div. I this season (through Dec. 18). And at 12-0, the Illini are one of only eight undefeated teams left in the country. John Groce, meanwhile, is the only first-year coach to have his team currently undefeated.
Do It All Paul Brandon Paul has been one of the most complete players in college basketball so far this season, affecting the game in all areas. In fact, he currently leads the Illini in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He is just one of three players in the nation to lead his team in all four of those major categories, joined by San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin and Rice's Tamir Jackson:
Fast Out of the Gate
Illinois' 12-0 start is tied for the sixth-best in school history (see page 6 here for Illinois' all-time best starts). The Illini's 12-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 are finishing up non-conference play with three games over a span of 21 days prior to the Big Ten opener Jan. 2 at Purdue. The Illini just wrapped up a stretch of five out of six games at home, concluding Dec. 16. Illinois has a three-week gap between home games, returning to the Assembly Hall court on Jan. 5 vs. Ohio State.
Five on the Starting Five
1. One of only three players in Div. I currently leading his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
2. Big Ten's No. 2 leading scorer with an average of 18.8 points.
3. Has scored in double figures in all 12 games, with five 20-plus point performances.
4. Leads all Big Ten players in 3-point field goals with average of 2.8 per game.
5. Has made 71 trips to the free throw line, more than any other Big Ten guard.
1. Tied for second on the team in scoring with an average of 11.5 points.
2. Tied for team lead in steals (1.5 spg).
3. Carries an active streak of 18 straight games making at least one 3-pointer.
4. Ranks fifth in school history in career 3-point field goals with 225.
5. Has started 108 career games, two away from breaking into the school's all-time top-10 list for starts.
1. Tied for second on the team in scoring with an average of 11.5 points.
2. Has increased his scoring average by 6.8 points (4.7 last year).
3. Second on the team in assists (3.3 apg).
4. Tied for team lead in steals (1.5 spg).
5. Has made 54 field goals in 12 games, already surpassing his total from 32 games last season (49).
1. Fourth on the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 8.9 points.
2. Has nearly doubled his scoring average from last season (4.9 ppg).
3. Shooting 42.9 from 3-point range.
4. Has made 18 threes in 12 games after making a total of 16 treys in 32 games last season.
5. Has 12 blocked shots, already surpassing his total from all of last season (11).
1. Started all 12 games and is averaging 23.0 minutes after averaging 9.8 minutes last season.
2. Averaging 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds, nearly tripling his averages from last season (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
3. Leads Illini in blocked shots with 15 (1.3 bpg).
4. Has made 30 baskets in 11 games, surpassing his total in 32 games last season (27).
5. Has made at least one field goal in every game this year.
Illinois currently leads the NCAA in 3-point field goals per game (10.0). The Illini made at least 10 three-pointers in each of its first six games of the season, becoming the first UI team ever to make double-digit three-point field goals in six consecutive games. Illinois has now made 10 or more threes in eight of 12 games on the year.
Illinois has made 40 more 3-point baskets than its opposition so far this season (120-to-80), a total of 120 more points and meaning the Illini are outscoring the competition by a margin of 10 points per game from the land of three.
While it's still early, the Illini look to be well on their way to challenging the school record for 3-point field goals per game, which is currently held by the 2004-05 team (8.8).
Holiday Ticket Offer Going Fast
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 Feb. 3 vs. Wisconsin - all for a price of just $49. That is a savings of more than 50 percent off the single-game ticket price. Mini-pack tickets can be purchased online at FightingIllini.com.
The Big Ten mini-pack originally included the Michigan game on Jan. 27, but due to strong sales and now extremely limited ticket availability remaining for that game, the Wisconsin game on Feb. 3 has since replaced the Michigan game to round out the 3-pack offer.
Tickets are also available for all other home games here and for the Dec. 29 game against Auburn at the United Center here.