Feb. 7, 2012
|Illinois (16-7, 5-5) at No. 23/23 Indiana (18-6, 6-6)
||Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012
||8 p.m. ET
||Bloomington, Ind. - Assembly Hall (17,472)
||BTN (Gus Johnson & Jim Jackson)
|| IU Radio Network (Affiliates) | Sirius 94/XM 192
||Illinois at Indiana
||Indiana | Illinois
| Social Media
|| @TomCrean | @IUShanaDan for in-game updates
THE OPENING TIP
Indiana is in its 112th season of college basketball and will host Illinois on Thursday night. The Hoosiers are coming off a 78-61 at Purdue, while the Illini fell at home 74-70 against Northwestern. Indiana is ranked 23rd by the Associated Press and in the USA Today/Coaches poll, after entering the rankings for the first time under Tom Crean's tenure following a 73-72 win over No. 1 Kentucky, on Dec. 10 in Bloomington. IU also edged No. 2 Ohio State (74-70) on New Years Eve. IU is the first Big Ten team since Minnesota in 1952-53 to defeat the top two ranked teams in the same season. This week is the 507th appearance in the AP Poll (seventh all-time among Division I programs).
Indiana named Tom Crean as its 28th men's basketball coach on April 2, 2008, and is in his fourth year with the Hoosiers. He is 236-168 all-time as a head coach and has five wins over nationally ranked foes in the last calendar year. Crean is 4-4 in his career against teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 and 7-10 vs. teams ranked in the top five. Crean was named midseason winner of the Jim Phelan Award which is the National Coach of the Year by Collegeinsider.com and selected by SI.com as the Midseason Coach of the Year. Sunday, Jan. 22 was his 400th game as a head coach.
Bruce Weber is in his ninth season as the head coach at Illinois and has a record of 209-93 with the Fighting Illini. Overall, he is in his 14th season as a head coach including five years at Southern Illinois to give him an overall record of 312-147.
The Hoosiers are 30-26 since the beginning of last season and took just 24 games to win 18 this year after winning 16 in two seasons from 2008-10. IU has improved its scoring average 18.5 points since averaging 60.1 points in Crean's first season at IU (2008-09), now averaging 78.5. The Hoosiers have improved their field goal percentage defense to 41.9 percent from 48.0 four years ago and are shooting 43.1 from long distance after shooting just 33.5 percent that first year. The Cream and Crimson are also shooting 49.5 percent from the field as opposed to 43.0. IU will likely move back into the top 10 in the nation in attendance, averaging 16,158 fans with six remaining home games, and are expected to average more than 17,000 per game for the remainder of the season. IU averaged 14,331 in attendance in 2008-09.
The Hoosiers' six-game win improvement is the highest among major conference programs this season.
The Hoosiers are slotted 9th in the Sagarin Ratings and by kenpom.com and are 18th in the RPI.
Indiana has shot 49.5 percent from the field, 43.1 percent from 3-point range and 74.3 percent from the free throw line. The Hoosiers are third in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and seventh in field goal percentage, and lead the Big Ten averaging 78.5 points per game. The Hoosiers are also averaging 16.6 points per game off of turnovers. IU is fourth nationally among BCS teams making 17.9 free throws per game.
Among the major conference teams, IU is the leader in 3-point field goal percentage, second in field goal percentage and are sixth in scoring.
Freshman Cody Zeller has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times. He was also named a Second Team Midseason All-American by ESPN.com, the Sporting News and SI.com, was one of four Big Ten players named to the Midseason Top 25 list for the Wooden Award, and one of three freshmen being considered for the Oscar Robertson Award. Zeller leads the Hoosiers averaging 15.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He leads the Big Ten and is fourth in the nation in field goal percentage, making 64.9 percent of his field goal attempts. He is on pace to break the school's single season shooting mark of 62.8 set by Matt Nover in 1992-93. He had a career-high 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting against Iowa. He had his first Big Ten double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds at Michigan and then notched 16 points and eight rebounds at Purdue.
Sophomore Victor Oladipo had a career-high 23 points in the win at Purdue. He added eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the game and made 10-of-12 charity tosses. He is averaging 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He leads the team with 37 steals, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten (1.5). He had 15 points, six boards and three steals against Ohio State. He had the game-winning layup in the final minute to give IU the win over the Buckeyes. He had 10 points, six boards and two steals against Minnesota.
Junior Christian Watford had a 15-point night against Iowa. He also had 12 points against Wisconsin. He is averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 boards per game this season. He is second among all Big Ten juniors with 1,125 career points, becoming the 43rd IU player to top the 1,000-point mark in his career. He hit the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Kentucky earlier this year.
Senior Verdell Jones III did not play in the second half against Michigan and at Purdue because of a bruised shoulder. He had one of his best games of the season against Iowa with 14 points and nine assists, which matched his career-high. He is sixth among active scorers in the Big Ten with 1,302 points. He has made 102 career starts. He had 12 first-half points against Wisconsin.
Junior Jordan Hulls had 10 points at Purdue and a team-high 18 points at Michigan. He also had five assists and made 4-of-5 3-pointers in Ann Arbor. He is second in the league hitting on 48.5 percent of his 3-point attempts. He is one of the best in the league in free throw shooting making 90.2 percent of his charity tosses. He is averaging 12.1 points per game and has made 50-of-103 triples. He is the Hoosiers' active leader with 65 consecutive starts.
Senior Matt Roth has hit 22-of-37 long distance shots (60.4) since December 19. He had 22 points off the bench at Penn State and made 5-of-6 triples in that game. He leads the Big Ten making 55.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. He also has shot 56.7 percent from long distance in the Big Ten. Roth is the sixth Hoosier to eclipse the 20-point mark, a Big Ten best.
Sophomore Will Sheehey had seven points, seven boards and a career-high three blocked shots against Purdue, including a game-saver against Lewis Jackson late in the contest. He made his first start of the season and had 10 points, four rebounds and two assists against Iowa. He was averaging 9.5 points per game off the bench. He was named Tournament MVP after he scored a career-high 21 points against Butler in the championship game of the Hoosier Invitational. In the last five games, Sheehey has made 4-of-7 3-pointers (57.1 percent).
Junior forward Derek Elston made his first start of the season at Purdue and had five points and six rebounds. He had nine points against Michigan after he matched his season high with 11 points against Iowa (11 vs. Stony Brook in season opener). It's also the most points he scored in a Big Ten game since 2010. He had eight straight points and a block in a 68 second span in the win over the Hawkeyes. He is no longer wearing a protective mask in games, which he wore after breaking his nose in late December. He is shooting 57.1 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from 3-point range in the last five games.
Freshman Remy Abell was huge off the bench at Purdue when he scored a career-high 13 points and added four rebounds. He made 5-of-6 field goal attempts and hit a dagger 3-pointer with just over a minute to go to clinch the game. Against Michigan, he came off the bench and had four points, two rebounds and an assist in 16 minutes of action. In the last five games, Abell is averaging 4.3 points and is shooting 53.8 percent from the field.
Senior walk-on guard Kory Barnett scored his first points in a Big Ten game on Sunday against Iowa on a layup in the final minute. He has scored seven points this season, a career high for a season for the Rochester, Ind., native, and now has 12 in his career.
Senior forward Tom Pritchard came off the bench and was a spark plug in the Hoosiers 103-89 win against Iowa, scoring seven points, grabbing four rebounds and taking a pair of charges in 14 minutes of action. He also had a steal that led to a fastbreak layup that he converted during the Hoosiers run late in the first half to extend to a 17-point halftime lead.