Brandon Paul and the Illini face Purdue Saturday in West Lafayette. (3 pm CT, ESPN2).
Dec. 30, 2011
TV: ESPN2 (also streamed online at ESPN3.com) - Justin Kutcher, (Play-By-Play), Stephen Bardo (Analyst)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - Dave Loane (Play-By-Play), Jerry Hester (Analyst), Loren Tate (Reports)
Probable Starters (from the previous game)
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 0 Sam Maniscalco 6-0 180 Gr. 10.6 2.4 2.9 88.6 FT% G 1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 195 Jr. 14.2 3.0 1.8 40.9 3FG% G 3 Brandon Paul 6-4 200 Jr. 12.0 4.6 3.3 1.3 spg F 42 Tyler Griffey 6-8 230 Jr. 6.5 4.5 0.6 26 off. reb. C 12 Meyers Leonard 7-1 245 So. 13.9 8.4 1.6 2.6 bpg
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Other G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-5 195 r-So. 5.0 1.7 1.0 58 FG% G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-1 185 Fr. 2.4 2.1 1.3 14 off. reb. F 15 Mike Shaw 6-8 230 Fr. 1.2 2.5 0.2 8.8 mpg G/F 20 Myke Henry 6-6 230 Fr. 2.9 1.0 0.3 50 FG% G/F 21 Devin Langford 6-7 200 Fr. F/C 23 Ibby Djimde 6-8 250 Fr. 0.6 1.2 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. 2.2 2.0 0.4 1.1 bpg G 44 Kevin Berardini 6-0 175 r-So. 0.0 0.0 0.0 3 minutes
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Career Record: 308-142/.684 (14th year)
At Illinois: 205-88/.700 (9th year)
Big Ten: 84-53/.613
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. Purdue
Series Record: Purdue leads 93-84
Last Year's Meetings: Purdue 81, Illinois 70 (Feb. 13, 2011 at Champaign); Purdue 75, Illinois 67 (March 1, 2011 at West Lafayette)
Series Streak: Purdue W-5
Record at West Lafayette: Purdue leads 58-28
Series Streak at West Lafayette: Purdue W-2
Weber vs. Purdue: 7-9
After opening Big Ten play with a double-overtime victory over Minnesota at the Assembly Hall, the Illini now hit the road for back-to-back games at Purdue and Northwestern. The Illini first look to break a five-game skid against Purdue with Saturday's visit to West Lafayette, where the Boilermakers own the nation's fifth-longest winning streak at 25 games. Illinois is 4-6 in its last 10 trips to Mackey Arena, recording wins during the 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2009 Big Ten campaigns.
Winner of its last four conference openers, Illinois is aiming for a 2-0 Big Ten start for the third straight season.
Illini Take Over ESPN Networks
ESPN will showcase Fighting Illini athletics on Saturday afternoon. In addition to the Illini basketball game at Purdue airing on ESPN2 at 3 pm CT, the Illini football team will be shown on ESPN, taking on UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at 2:30 pm CT. This is the second straight season that Illinois will play a men's basketball game and bowl game on the same day. Last year on Dec. 29, the Illini cagers opened conference play with an 87-77 victory at Iowa while the Illini gridders defeated Baylor 38-14 in the Texas Bowl in Houston.
Last Time Out
It took 10 extra minutes, but Illinois won its 12th consecutive home game, defeating Minnesota 81-72 in double-overtime on Tuesday night. The Illini led by as many as 13 points early in the second half, but the Gophers went on a 19-6 run to pull even at 54 with six minutes remaining. Minnesota had a chance to win in regulation, owning a 64-62 lead and Julian Welch at the line with 15 seconds left. But Welch missed the front end of the 1-and-1, and the Illini forced overtime after Meyers Leonard was fouled and hit a pair of huge free throws with seven seconds remaining on the clock.
The first overtime played to a draw, but the Illini rolled in the second extra session, outscoring the Gophers 11-to-2. Brandon Paul and Leonard accounted for 10 of the UI's 11, Paul scoring six and Learned adding four.
Five Illini players scored in double figures on the night, led by Paul, who tallied a season-high 21 points. Leonard registered his third straight double-double with 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand added 13 points apiece, while Sam Maniscalco chipped in 10.
Leonard Improving at Historical Level
Meyers Leonard is quickly earning a reputation as one of the top centers in the country. His progression has been rapid when comparing the numbers from his freshman year to this season. Leonard has increased his scoring average by 11.8 points and his rebounding average by 7.2 boards. Those figures rank among the biggest improvements in school history from one season to the next:
Best UI Scoring Improvement (Avg.) Best UI Rebounding Improvement (Avg.) 1. Rick Schmidt, 1974 +17.6 ppg (21.4-3.8) 1. Skip Thoren, 1964 +8.0 rpg (13.8-5.8) 2. Skip Thoren, 1964 +14.8 ppg (20.3-5.5) 2. Meyers Leonard, 2012 +7.2 rpg (8.4-1.2) 3. Meyers Leonard, 2012 +11.8 ppg (13.9-2.1) 3. Mike Davis, 2009 +6.3 rpg (8.1-1.8)
Bertrand Streak One For the Ages
Joseph Bertrand made 13 consecutive shots over the last two games, hitting all nine of his attempts against Missouri and his first four attempts against Minnesota before finally missing. Bertrand's streak was the Illini's best over the last 29 years, but did not set a school record. The Illinois mark still belongs to Derek Harper, who made 19 consecutive shots over a three-game stretch in 1983. Harper made his last seven shots vs. Michigan (Feb. 17), all 11 of his attempts vs. Michigan State (Feb. 19) and his first attempt vs. Purdue (Feb. 23).
Fighting Illini Player Trends
Meyers Leonard has recorded double-doubles in each of the last three games. He is averaging 17.7 points (53), 13.3 rebounds (40) and 3.3 blocked shots (10) while shooting 61.8 percent from the field (21-34) over that stretch.
Leonard has totaled five double-doubles on the season, one behind Big Ten co-leaders Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) and Draymond Green (Michigan State).
Brandon Paul has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games, including each of the last three. Over the last three games, Paul is averaging 18.3 points (55) and 7.0 rebounds (21).
Paul posted season highs in scoring in each of the last two contests, scoring 21 points against Minnesota on Tuesday after tallying 19 points last week vs. Missouri.
After making a total of 11 three-pointers over the first 12 games (0.9 avg.), Paul has made six treys over the last two games (3.0 avg.).
Joseph Bertrand is averaging 16.0 points (32) on 78.9 percent shooting (15-19) over the last two games. Bertrand scored a career-high 19 points vs. Missouri and followed that performance with 13 points - the second-highest scoring total of his career - against Minnesota on Tuesday.
Bertrand is shooting 58 percent from the field on the season and has only missed one free throw (12-13).
D.J. Richardson has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games - the longest streak of his career - and is averaging 16.0 points over that stretch (112). His previous career-best streak in double figures was five straight, set earlier this season (Nov. 14-27) and last season (Nov. 30-Dec. 18).
Sam Maniscalco had 10 points vs. Minnesota on Tuesday, scoring in double figures for the first time in four games and seventh time this season.
Maniscalco has only committed four turnovers in 191 minutes over the last six games, averaging 1 turnover per 47.8 minutes at the point guard position.
Illinois Team Notes
Four players carry a double-figure scoring average. Illinois' four leading scorers ranked among the Big Ten's top 30 is the second-highest total of any school, behind Indiana (5).
Illinois ranks 23rd in the NCAA and third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing an average of 59.9 points.
Illinois' defense is holding teams to combined 38.9 percent shooting, ranking 42nd in the NCAA and fourth in the conference. Only one opponent (Gonzaga) has topped 45 percent from the field this season.
The Illini rank third in the Big Ten and 40th nationally in blocked shots, averaging 4.9 bpg.
The Illini have outrebounded 11 of 14 opponents and own a +5.4 rebound margin.
Illinois ranks 46th in the NCAA and fourth in the league in free throw percentage at 74.1 percent. Illinois has topped 80 percent shooting from the line in five games, including each of the last two.
Seven different players have led the team in rebounding while six 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 12 straight contests.
Leonard Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week
Meyers Leonard earned Big Ten Player of the Week accolades on Monday, receiving the honor after averaging 16.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 blocks while shooting 62.5 percent from the field in a pair of games last week. Leonard recorded back-to-back double-doubles, tallying game highs of 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against Cornell followed by 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds versus Missouri. Leonard receives his second conference weekly award of the season, the first coming on Dec. 5.
Current Illini vs. Purdue
Brandon Paul (4 G): 10.3 ppg (41), 2.0 rpg (8)
Highlights: 10 points last year in West Lafayette ... Career-high 23 points with four rebounds last year in Champaign ... 13 points in 2010 in West Lafayette.
D.J. Richardson (4 G): 10.0 ppg (40), 2.0 rpg (8)
Highlights: 13 points and three rebounds last year in Champaign ... 10 points in 2010 in West Lafayette ... 12 points in 2010 in Champaign.
Tyler Griffey (2 G): 4 pts, 1 reb
Meyers Leonard (2 G): 2 pts, 0 reb