November 27, 2012
Illinois plays host to Georgia Tech
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – The Fighting Illini (8-0) had to lean on reserve guard Joseph Bertrand to knock off Georgia Tech 75-62 Wedneday night at Assembly Hall during the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. The redshirt, 6’6″ junior hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions (sick and-1 http://youtu.be/9rNqfhfvp8w) and scored every point in a 10-0 run to ignite the Illini to the victory.
After missing his first season with a knee injury, Bertrand relied upon his athleticism to get to the basket and create scoring opportunities for himself during the last two years. By concentrating on his perimeter game during individual practice sessions over the summer, he’s become tougher to guard. ”Until you get to know him, Joe sometimes comes off like a quiet guy, but he’s got some big-time energy,” Illinois coach John Groce said. ”I very rarely will watch practice film or game film and say, ‘Bertrand isn’t playing hard.”’
Georgia Tech rallied with two 3-pointers from guard Chris Bolden and a breakaway dunk by Jason Morris for a 54-50 lead with 10:16 left.
The lead changed hands six times in a back-and-forth first half, when Illinois shot 46.7 percent from the 3-point line while the Yellow Jackets hit 45.5 from behind the arc.
During the first half both teams played a solid, uptempo game as the home team take a 1 point lead into half 36-35. Both teams shot darn near identical: Yellow Jackets 46.2% from field and 45.5% from downtown, Illini 46.7% from both. But by the end of the contest, the home team increased their percentages, 474% from for the floor and 50% from downtown, and theYellow Jackets decreased 44.2% and 38.1% respectively.
Bertrand and Brandon Paul finished the contest with 15 points apiece, and Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson each had 14 points for Illinois.
Kammeon Holsey led Georgia Tech (4-2) with 14 points while Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia scored 10 apiece of which 8 came in the first half.
‘‘If you had said, ‘Would you predict 8-0?’ I probably wouldn’t have been bold enough to do that,’’ Groce said. ‘‘But our guys have been resilient. We’ve been popped in the mouth two or three times and come back in games and made big plays down the stretch. Hopefully, we continue to do that.’’
Coming into this Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Fighting Illini are off to a fast, undefeated start of 7-0 and play host to Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in this years’ Big Ten – ACC Challenge. It just seems that first year coach John Groce and got the team to buy into his way of things and it’s working. Groce uses attacking, dribble-drive offense and they feel comfortable in it, and that is helping them make shots.
Groce said of Illinois’ Top 25 ranking. ‘‘We’re seven games in. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the recognition. But at the end of the day, what’s it mean in terms of the long-term mission we’re on to be the best team we can be in February and March?’’
Illinois is 7-1 against Georgia Tech, including a 103-92 double-OT victory Jan. 22, 1989. That was the only other time Tech has come to Champaign. With that win, Illinois improved to 17-0 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation the next day.
For more on the 2012 Big Ten-ACC Challenge roundup click here.
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