Top Teams Battle Tonight
• Illinois is off to its fifth-best start in school history at 14-0, and has won its first 14 games for the second straight year. The Illini won a school-record 29 games to start last season.
• Illinois has won 53 of its last 54 games during the regular season.
• Illinois owns the nation's second-longest homecourt winning streak at 29 games, trailing only Gonzaga (30, plays next at home on Jan. 14).
• Illinois' 29-game winning streak at the Assembly Hall is its second-longest in school history, trailing only the school-record streak of 31 straight wins at The Hall from Jan. 15, 1984 through Jan. 4, 1986.
• Illinois is 86-3 (.966) at the Assembly Hall over the last six-and-a-half seasons, the best home mark in the nation over this time period.
• Illinois has the nation's longest nonconference homecourt winning streak at 46 games (tied with Oklahoma).
• Illinois is the second-winningest team in the nation over the past five-and-a-half seasons. Illinois has won 155 games since the beginning of the 2000-01 season, which trails only Duke (163).
• Bruce Weber is the winningest coach in the nation over the past four-and-a-half seasons. Since the beginning of the 2001-02 season, Weber has won 129 games, recording 52 wins in his final two years at Southern Illinois and 77 wins in his first two-and-a-half years at Illinois. He leads Duke's Mike Krzyzewski by one win over this time period.
• Illinois and Duke are the only two schools in the nation to win at least 25 games each of the last five seasons.
• Illinois' opponents are averaging just 55.6 points on 38.8 percent shooting on the season. The Illini lead the Big Ten in scoring margin at +19.9 ppg (18th in NCAA, as of Dec. 19) while ranking third in the Big Ten in scoring defense (17th in NCAA, as of Dec. 19) and second in field goal percentage defense.
• Illinois is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 9.7 boards per game. The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank 19th in the nation (as of Dec. 19) in rebounding margin and have outrebounded all but one opponent (Xavier) on the year.
Illini in Big Ten Openers
Illinois is 61-39 all-time in Big Ten opening games and has won its last six conference openers ...The Illini are 40-16 when opening the Big Ten season at home and are 19-4 at the Assembly Hall in Big Ten home openers ...This is the seventh time that Illinois and Michigan State have opened the Big Ten season against each other, with the Illini owning a 5-1 edge over the Spartans in conference openers ...The last time Illinois and Michigan State opened Big Ten play against each other was 12 years ago, a 79-74 MSU victory on Jan. 8, 1994 in East Lansing.
Thursday's game is a Top-10 showdown with the 6th-ranked Illini taking on the 7th-ranked Spartans. It marks the first game at the Assembly Hall with both teams ranked in the Top 10 since last season when No. 5 Illinois defeated No. 1 Wake Forest 91-73 on Dec. 1, 2004. The last time Illinois hosted a Big Ten game with both teams in the Top 10 was five years ago, when the No. 7 Illini defeated No. 4 Michigan State 77-66 on Feb. 6, 2001.
Another Strong Start for the Illini
The Illini have won their first 14 games for the second straight season with this year's 14-0 start, which is the fifth-best start in school history. Illinois set a school record by winning its first 29 games last season (see chart at bottom of page 2 for Illinois' best all-time starts).
Illini Nation's Second-Winningest Team over Past Five-and-a-Half Seasons
Illinois ranks as the second-winningest team in the nation over the past five-and-a-half seasons in terms of both total wins and winning percentage. Illinois has reeled off 155 victories since the beginning of the 2000-01 season, which trails only Duke, while the Illini's .824 winning percentage over that time span also trails just Duke. Following is a list of the five winningest teams (ranked by total wins) over the past five-and-a-half seasons.
Weber Nation's Winningest Coach over Past Four-and-a-Half Seasons
Bruce Weber has coached consistent winners everywhere he's been throughout his college career. In fact, over the past four-and-a-half seasons no head coach in America has more wins on his resume than Weber. Beginning with the 2001-02 season, Weber has recorded 129 victories, which leads Mike Krzyzewski (128 wins, next game 1/8) and Roy Williams (121 wins, next game 1/3) for the most wins by an NCAA Div. I over this time span. In his final two years at Southern Illinois, Weber went 28-8 in 2001-02 and 24-7 in 2002-03. He then took over the Illinois program, leading the Illini to a 26-7 record in 2003-04, a 37-2 mark in 2004-05 and a 14-0 mark so far this season.
Stats provided by U of I Press Release.
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