Fighting Illini steal another victory in Big Ten play

Posted on February 7, 2013. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

FINAL: Illinois 74, Indiana 72

February 7, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN – Coming into tonight’s contest everything seems to be clicking for the Indiana Hoosiers (20-3, 8-2), as they reclaimed the country’s No. 1 ranking behind three impressive wins last week, and they were hoping to open up to 5-0 on the road in Big Ten and avoided a 10th loss in Champaign, but that wasn’t the case tonight.

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As the home team, Fighting Illini (16-8, 3-7), continue their winning ways at home against the Hoosiers with a 74-42 victory.

With .9 seconds, senior forward Tyler Griffey made the easiest, yet biggest shot maybe of his career to seal the win. Griffey left defenders Cody Zeller and Christian Watford behind on an inbounds play from the baseline, took the pass from Brandon Paul and delivered the uncontested buzzer-beater for the Illini.

”I just made a simple curl cut and left two guys behind me, and Brandon got off a heck of a pass,” he said. ”Zeller and Watford were both right in front of me and just kind of stayed there.”

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Coming down the stretch, Indiana was in charge until Illinois put together a run to take and then retake the lead.

On top of it all, 6-foot-11 Nnanna Egwu fouled out with just under 5 minutes to play, Indiana looked totally in control. Egwu is the only Illini player with the size to realistically match up with the 7-0 Zeller, but size wasn’t what the Illini needed, they needed scoring….

Watford made two free throws after Egwu’s fifth foul and, at 69-59, the Illini looked done. But with the clock under 3 minutes, DJ Richardson went on a run of his own, first burying consecutive 3-pointers and then hitting a midrange jumper on the run to tie the game at 70 with 1:17 to play. Victor Oladipo’s layup put the Hoosiers back on top with 50 seconds left, but Paul answered with two free throws, the first banked in, to tie the score again at 72.

With the clock under 30 seconds, Indiana had the ball for what would have been a last shot but Oladipo fumbled the ball. Richardson picked it up and sprinted down court. Oladipo slapped Richardson’s layup out of bounds to set up the final play – .9 on the clock, and well, bad defense and lack communication on Indiana’s part.

”We didn’t communicate,” coach Crean said after the game. ”They’re very deserving of the win, they never gave in,” he added, but he qualified that with, ”We didn’t put them away when we had the opportunities. I know this, when we turn the ball over we’re not very good and the biggest difference tonight was 28 points off turnovers to our 16.”

Coach Groce credited Richardson for sparking the comeback.

”I thought he was absolutely terrific on both ends of the floor,” Groce said. ”He battled, he fought.”

Indiana’s loss drops them into a three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State. For the Illini, the win means a move out of 10th in the 12-team conference up into a ninth-place tie with Iowa. More importantly, it’s a potential lifeline for an Illini team that still has to face No. 18 Minnesota on the road Sunday (Big Ten Network) and had been watching its season slip away. Indiana travels to Ohio to take on Big Ten foe Ohio State Sunday afternoon (CBS)

“I can’t answer that. I’m not sure,” Crean said. ”I just know that these games are 40-minute games. We played at a high level for most of the game.”

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Richardson had 23 points for Illinois, Brandon Paul had 21 and Griffey finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Zeller led Indiana with 14 points, while Will Sheehey had 13, Watford 12 and Jordan Hulls 11.

Indiana shot 50 percent from the field (25 of 50), 52.9 percent from 3-point range (9 of 17) and 93 percent from the free throw line (13 of 14). The Hoosiers led by an 8- to 10-point margin for most of the second half.

”It was good to get back to having that toughness and togetherness and trust that we needed,” Illinois coach John Groce said.

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FUN FACT: Illinois hadn’t beaten a No. 1 team since a 2004 win over Wake Forest. 

FUN FACT: No. 1 Indiana on Thursday night, the fifth straight week the nation’s top-ranked team lost.

#B1GTEN #ILvsIND

 

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2013 Big Ten matchup – Illinois host Indiana

Posted on February 7, 2013. Filed under: NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

2013 Illini host Hoosiers

February 7, 2013

Everything appears to be clicking for Indiana, which reclaimed the country’s No. 1 ranking behind three impressive wins last week.

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The Hoosiers, though, could be hard-pressed to keep their celebrations going with two difficult matchups in store.

Looking to open 5-0 on the road in Big Ten play, Indiana tries to avoid a 10th loss in 11 visits to Illinois on Thursday night.

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Indiana (20-2, 8-1) opened 2012-13 ranked No. 1 and spent five weeks there before suffering an 88-86 overtime defeat to Butler on Dec. 15. While a 64-59 home loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 15 also raised some eyebrows, the Hoosiers have since won five straight by an average of 16.2 points.

That run includes a 75-70 victory over then-No. 13 Michigan State and a 97-60 rout at Purdue, but beating then-No. 1 Michigan 81-73 on Saturday was undoubtedly Indiana’s most notable result. Sophomore standout Cody Zeller had 19 points and 10 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” junior Victor Oladipo said of getting back to No. 1. “You know we started there, we had a hard road to get back here. We’re just going to continue to keep working.”

While Indiana is excited about the recognition, coach Tom Crean doesn’t want his team getting caught up in the hoopla.

“That’s not what they play for,” Crean said. “I think they truly are learning that those things are nice, but playing to improve, to win games like this, to face some adversity and fight through it, that’s what matters. When we were not No. 1 in December they heard those things. Were we any worse because we lost by two? We didn’t play very well that day.”

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The Hoosiers haven’t played very well during their last several trips to Champaign, either. Indiana has dropped three straight and nine of 10 at Illinois, with its lone win coming 83-79 in double-overtime Feb. 7, 2008.

“We know that the challenge is great this week in going to Illinois and then to (No. 10) Ohio State (on Sunday),” said Crean, whose team took the last matchup in this series 84-71 at home last Feb. 9.

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The Fighting Illini (15-8, 2-7), who’ve dropped six of seven while yielding 72.1 points per game, are hoping to avoid a season-worst fourth consecutive loss after falling 74-68 to Wisconsin on Sunday. Illinois has allowed opponents to shoot 51.3 percentage during the skid.

“Defensively, I thought we were atrocious (last week),” coach John Groce said. “And until we get that figured out, then obviously we’re not going to be where we want to be. At this point, we’re kind of at a crossroads with our defense, we’ve got to get better.”

The Illini figure to have their hands full against a Hoosiers team that’s averaging 83.8 points, the country’s second-best mark. Indiana’s 50.1 field-goal percentage ranks sixth.

“Obviously, they bring several challenges. They’re a really good basketball team, they’re well coached,” Groce said. “They’ve got size, they’ve got depth, they’ve got shooting, they’ve got point-guard play.

“But to be honest, as we approach this week, it’s more about us. … We’ve got to get recommitted and be more difficult to score against, regardless of who we play.”

Senior Brandon Paul is averaging a team-leading 17.4 points for Illinois but has posted 13.8 per game in his last four.

Indiana freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell is averaging 12.8 points over his last four contests – 5.1 more than his season mark.

The Hoosiers haven’t won their first five league games in opposing arenas since opening 6-0 in 1992-93.

 

#B1GTEN #ILvsIND

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2012-13 NCAA Players of the Week

Posted on January 16, 2013. Filed under: Basketball, Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

2013 NCAA Players of the week

care of U.S. Basketball Writers Association

ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – The U.S. Basketball Writers Association picks a top player, each week of the 2012-13 season, from both Men and Women’s basketball, and award them with the National Player of the Week. The USBWA’s weekly honor will be handed out each Tuesday through Feb. 19 this season. The Men’s award is named after Oscar Robertson, and the Women’s awards Ann Meyers Drysdale.

Here’s the winners of the Oscar Robertson National Players of the Week:

Week of Feb. 17: Michael Lyons, Air Force (Mountain West Conference)

Week of Feb. 10: Mason Plumlee, Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference)

Week of Feb. 3: Shane Larkin, Miami (Atlantic Coast Conference)

Week of Jan. 27: Darrun Hilliard, Villanova (Big East Conference)

Week of Jan. 20: Roosevelt Jones, Butler (Atlantic 10 Conference)

Week of Jan. 13: Elston Turner, Texas A&M (Southeastern Conference)

Week of Jan. 6: Trey Burke, Michigan (Big Ten Conference)

Week of Dec. 30: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (Pac-12 Conference)

Week of Dec. 23: Victor Rudd, South Florida (Big East Conference)

Week of Dec. 16: Doug McDermott, Creighton (Missouri Valley Conference)

Week of Dec. 9: Brandon Paul, Illinois (Big Ten Conference)

Here’s the winners of the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Players of the Week:

Week of Feb. 17: Keiera Ray, Pennsylvania (Ivy League)

Week of Feb. 10: Kelia Shelton, Louisiana Tech (Western Athletic Conference)

Week of Feb. 3: Khaalidah Miller, Georgia (Southeastern Conference)

Week of Jan. 27: Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford (Pac-12 Conference)

Week of Jan. 20: Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut (Big East Conference)

Week of Jan. 13: Brittney Griner, Baylor (Big 12 Conference)

Week of Jan. 6: Kayla McBride, Notre Dame (Big East Conference)

Week of Dec. 30: Karisma Penn, Illinois (Big Ten Conference)

Week of Dec. 23: Kelsey Bone, Texas A&M (Southeastern Conference)

Week of Dec. 16: Chucky Jeffery, Colorado (Pac-12 Conference)

Week of Dec. 9: Maggie Lucas, Penn State (Big Ten Conference)

This is the fourth season that the USBWA has selected a national player of the week. The weekly Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week will be considered for the Oscar Robertson Trophy watch list, which will be released at mid-season.

Since the 1958-59 season, the USBWA has named a National Player of the Year. In 1998, the award was named in honor of the University of Cincinnati Hall of Famer and two-time USBWA Player of the Year Oscar Robertson. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player.

And at the Women’s NCAA Final Four in Denver last April, the organization (USBWA) announced going forward that the Women’s national and weekly player award has been named for Hall of Famer and former UCLA All-American Ann Meyers Drysdale. At the conclusion of the regular season, the USBWA will name finalists for the award, which is voted on by the entire membership of the USBWA. The winner of the 2013 Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year will be announced and presented at the USBWA’s annual awards breakfast in New Orleans, site of the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

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At the conclusion of the regular season, the USBWA will name finalists for the award, which is voted on by the entire membership. The winner of the Oscar Robertson Trophy presented by Aflac will be presented by its namesake, Oscar Robertson, at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards on April 15, 2013, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award and the Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award will also be presented at the gala to be held annually the Monday following the NCAA Men’s Final Four. At last season’s Women’s Final Four, it was also announced that former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who was the female recipient of the Most Courageous Award for her battle against early onset dementia, Alzheimer type, would have that award named in her honor.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821.

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the most comprehensive college basketball publication in the world, returns for its 32nd season, bigger and better in 2012-13. Blue Ribbon – long-known as “The Bible of College Basketball” – gives its readers the most thorough, up-to-date and timely evaluations of every Division I team in the country. For more information about Blue Ribbon Yearbooks, visit blueribbonyearbookonline.com.

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2012 Illinois vs Auburn

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Fighting Illini defeat SEC’s Auburn Tigers…..

December 29, 2012

FINAL: Illinois 81, Auburn 79.

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The 12th-ranked Illinois team gets back on track snagging a victory today against SEC’s Auburn Tigers at the world-famous United Center.

Sophomore Tracy Abrams leads all players with 27 and 8 rebounds. What a difference a year makes? In last years’ contest here at the United Center, he didn’t have any points but this year, he’s hot 4-7 from the floor, 2-3 from behind the arc, and perfect at the charity stripe 6-6.

“I was pushing the ball more than I did in any other game of the season,” Abrams said. “We’ve been pushing the ball lately in practice. I wanted to start the game like that.”

His teammate, Brandon Paul added 13 to seal the deal.

“We have a lot more weapons and a lot more confidence,” said Paul after the game.

Auburn is led by the play of Frankie Sullivan who knocked down 18. One stat the Tigers dominate with in the first half was boards 20-12, of which they are beating Illini 8-3 on offensive grabs.

So, can the Illini hold off the stingy Tigers and get their first victory here at the United Center in their last three games? Stay tune….

The Fighting Illini come into this contest tied for tops in the nation with 9.8 3-pointers per game, and with leading scorer Brandon Paul (19.2) are focused to get back to their style of play and become more efficient from beyond the arc.

“We just have to get a little better with the execution stuff,” coach John Groce said.

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On the other side of the court, Auburn comes in 5-6 record, of which their last four games against Grambling, Furman, Tennessee Tech and Winthrop, limited them to a combined 17 of 83 (20.5 percent) from 3-point range in winning three of their last four.

“Illinois is a very talented team coming off a tough loss to Missouri,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “The entire team is capable of making 3-point shots and can go off.”

Guard Frankie Sullivan, the team’s scoring leader (16.9), will try to build off a 22-point effort after nearly leading the Tigers to a comeback victory from 16 down.

“It is very exciting,” said Sullivan of playing the Illini. “We have an opportunity to put a good win on our resume. It is going to be a great challenge, and we will be up for the challenge.”

Chris Denson, another high-scoring guard, has given the team a boost after being academically ineligible the fall semester. The junior has averaged 17.0 points while shooting 57.5 percent from the floor in his first four games after finishing with 18 on 6 of 13 shooting against the Eagles.

This is the last non-Big Ten contest for Illinois before they open up conference play at Purdue on Jan. 2.

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FUN FACTS

Illinois defeated Auburn in the only other meeting between the teams, 107-103 in overtime in the championship game of the Illini Classic on Dec. 12, 1987.

While the Illini have dropped three straight and five of six at the United Center, the Tigers have lost eight straight overall against ranked opponents.

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Illinois-Georgia Tech

Posted on November 28, 2012. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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.

”It’s really helped my confidence,” Bertrand said. ”I’m looking to shoot them more this year. I was driving more last year. I’m looking to do both.”

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.”’

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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?’’

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FUN NOTES

John Groce’s 8-0 start is the second-best by a first-year coach at Illinois along with Harry Combes (1947-48). Fletcher Lane started 12-0 in 1907-08, his only season as Illini coach.

After losing 12 of its last 14 games last season, Illinois is off to a strong start under Groce, who became the only coach since World War II to start his Illini career with eight straight wins.

Illinois holds a 7-1 advantage over Georgia Tech in the all-time series, including five straight wins.

 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.

Illinois entered the week as the nation’s leading 3-point shooting team, making an average of 10.9 per game.


Attendance: 12224 – Orange Crush!!!

For more on the 2012 Big Ten-ACC Challenge roundup click here.

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