2013-Illini-Cougars

Posted on November 24, 2013. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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November 22, 2013

After opening the season with four games in nine days, 4-0 Illinois plays its lone game in an eight-day stretch, hosting 2-3 Chicago State on Friday night, and extended their 2013-14 streak to 5, defeating the Cougars 77-53. This victory gives the Illini their third consecutive season with a record of 5-0.

Senior Jon Ekey was the spark the team needed Friday night against Chicago State, as he lit things up on the court including a put back dunk, and back-to-back threes. WATCH!

“Different coaches, different systems,” Ekey said. “These coaches play a little bit differently, which I fit into a little bit better than the system they have over there [at Illinois State.] It’s great at this level to be able to do that, it’s one of those things that the coaches have been talking about ever since I got on campus. That’s why they recruited me when I left over there. It’s what they’ve been talking about to me every day, going out there, taking the open ones and don’t pass up shots. Just been a work in progress that’s kind of accumulated.”

Ekey led the way with 19 points and snagged 6 boards, followed by a trio of players who added 12 points including Joseph Bertrand, Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice. Bertrand snagged 8 boards.

Coming off a 5-of-7 three-point shooting performance against Bradley on Sunday, Ekey again hit five threes to bail out the Illini against the lingering Chicago State team. After the Cougars pulled within four (55-51) with eight minutes left in the ball game, Ekey got his spark started with a dunk 30 seconds later, and didn’t look back.

On the other side of the court, the Cougars’ Clarke Rosenberg led the way with 16 points, followed by Matt Ross who added 13. Eddie Denard snagged 5 boards.

The Cougars shot 18-45 (40.0%) from the floor while Illini shot 26-54 (48.1%). Home team also controlled the boards with a 39-20 margin.

Up next for Illinois is a trip west to face UNLV, November 26.

Up next for Chicago State is Southern Illinois, November 30 at 205pm on their home campus. The game can also be heard on the world-famous WVON 1690AM.

GAME NOTES
Illinois is now 13-0 in November under head coach John Groce and has won its last 24 games overall in the month of November.

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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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