Illini Sports Network - 47 stations: Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Stephen Bardo, expert analyst; Loren Tate, pregame/halftime/postgame interviews.
Series Notes: Oregon
This is the first game in 20 years and just the third meeting all-time between Illinois and Oregon. The Illini are 2-0 versus the Ducks, with both previous match-ups coming at neutral sites. Illinois won 86-80 on Dec. 29, 1977 in the Far West Classic at Portland, Ore., and 75-72 in triple overtime on Nov. 25, 1984 in the Great Alaska Shootout at Anchorage.
• For the third time in school history, the Illini are ranked No. 1 in the nation. Illinois last stood atop the national polls the week of January 23-29, 1989. Illinois' first tenure at No. 1 came the final week of January, 1952.
Illinois' victory over Chicago State on Monday marked the first time in school history that the Illini have won their first game after earning the No. 1 ranking. In 1989, No. 1 Illinois lost at Minnesota and in 1952, the No. 1 Illini lost at DePaul. The Illini are now 4-2 all-time when ranked No. 1, with wins over Indiana in 1989 and at Purdue in 1952, in addition to Monday's win over Chicago State and Thursday's victory at Georgetown.
Illinois defeated a No.1-ranked team for the second time in school history and the first since 1979 on Dec. 1 when the Illini cruised past No. 1 Wake Forest 91-73.
Illinois has won all eight games by double figures, and is outscoring its opponents by an average of 20.4 points per game on the year.
After eight games, the Illini are shooting an eye-popping 52.2 percent (252-483) from the field and 43.1 percent (78-181) from 3-point range. Illinois ranks seventh in the NCAA in field goal percentage and 17th in nation in 3-point field goal percentage as of Dec. 7.
In the first half of games this season, Illinois is averaging 48.1 points (385 pts.) on 55.3 percent shooting (140-253), and enjoys an average halftme lead of 18.0 points.
Illinois has trailed in the scoring column for just 21:32 out of 320 minutes of play on the season, and has held the lead the entire second half of every game this year. Illinois trailed Delaware State for a total of 7:01, all in the first half, Florida A&M for the first 50 seconds of the game, Arkansas for 1:34 of the first half, Chicago State for the first 47 seconds of the game, and Georgetown for a total of 11:20, all in the first half. The Illini held the lead the entire way in three consecutive games against Oakland, Gonzaga and Wake Forest.
Playing against ranked teams in consecutive games (No. 24 Gonzaga and No. 1 Wake Forest), Illinois combined for an amazing assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.92. The Illini had 24 assists with only seven turnovers against Gonzaga and tallied a season-high 27 assists with a season-low six turnovers against top-ranked Wake Forest.
Four of Illinois' five starters are averaging in double-figure scoring after eight games.
Illinois has led the Big Ten in scoring each of the last four seasons. The Illini currently rank 16th in the nation in scoring (as of Dec. 7), averaging 83.4 points this year through eight games.
Illinois has been credited with assists on 69.8 percent of its baskets this season (176 assists on 252 field goals). The Illini lead the nation in assists (as of Dec. 7), averaging 22.0 per game.
The Illini have three players - Dee Brown, Luther Head and Roger Powell - shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range.
The Illini are averaging 9.8 three-pointers per game this season, which ranks fifth in the NCAA (as of Dec. 7). Illinois tied its school record for 3-pointers in a game with 14 vs. Gonzaga on Nov. 27.
In its win over Gonzaga, Illinois set a number of Wooden Tradition team records, including points (89), assists (24), steals (13), three-pointers (14), as well as individual records, including assists (Luther Head, 9), steals (Luther Head-tied, 4), and 3-pointers (Deron Williams-tied, 5).
In the season opener on Nov. 19, Illinois and Delaware State combined to set the Illinois all-time and Assembly Hall records for combined field goal percentage. The teams joined to shoot 60.8 percent (59-97), with the Illini making 35-of-55 attempts and the Hornets connecting on 24-of-42 shots.
The United Center: Home Away from Home
While games played at the United Center count as neutral site in the record book, for the Illini the UC is a home away from home. Saturday's game against Oregon marks the 30th game the Illini have played in the UC, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Illinois owns an all-time record of 23-6 (.793) at the United Center, including 10 straight wins.
Illini Move to No. 1
For just the third time in school history, Illinois is the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. Illinois moved up from third to first this week in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and all the way from fifth to first in the Associated Press Poll. The Illini moved past an undefeated Kansas team in the Coaches Poll and moved ahead of three undefeated teams - Kansas, Syracuse and Georgia Tech - to claim the top spot in the AP Poll.
This marks the first time since the week of Jan. 23-29, 1989 that the Illini have stood atop the national polls. The Illini were also ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for a week during the final week in January, 1952. In each of the previous two seasons when the Illini achieved a No. 1 ranking, they went on to advance to the NCAA Final Four.
Powell Earns Big Ten Weekly Honor
Roger Powell, Jr. was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 6 following his performance in a pair of Illini victories. Powell scored a game-high and season-high 19 points in the win over No. 1 Wake Forest. He connected on 8-of-10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, while grabbing seven boards. Powell then registered the third double-double of his career in the win over Arkansas, leading the Illini with 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. On the week, Powell averaged 19 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 67 percent from the field (14-21). This is the first Big Ten Player of the Week accolade of Powell's career.
Story courtesy of the Sports Information Department from the U of I.
Illini take on Ducks today at United Center
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