Series Notes: Northwestern
Illinois leads the all-time series over Northwestern 122-34, and owns a 59-21 advantage in games played in Evanston. Illinois carries a six-game winning streak over the Wildcats into Wednesday's game.
Illinois won both match-ups last season, 58-47 in Evanson on Jan. 21 and 63-47 in Champaign on Feb. 15.
This is the first of two games between the Illini and the Wildcats in a period of 11 days. The teams meet again in Champaign next Sunday, Feb. 18.
• After concluding a stretch of having four of five games at home, Illinois finishes Big Ten play with four of six games on the road.
• Illinois has won back-to-back games for the first time in Big Ten play and has improved to .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
• Illinois won its 17th straight game over Minnesota on Saturday, a streak that spans the last eight-plus seasons, beginning with the 1999 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal. It is the longest active winning streak by any Big Ten school over a conference opponent. It also marks the longest winning streak in Illini history over a Big Ten opponent. Illinois' previous best conference winning streaks were a pair of 16-game streaks over Northwestern (1/11/47-3/5/55 & 2/4/84-3/2/91 and one 16-game streak over Wisconsin (2/12/81-1/12/89).
• Illinois' defense has allowed an average of just 56.0 points (392) over the last seven games, holding six of seven opponents under 70 points, and four of seven opponents under 60 points.
• Illinois has also held its opponents to just 22.3 percent shooting from 3-point range (23-103) over the last seven games.
• Shaun Pruitt has averaged 13.8 points (69) and 9.8 rebounds (49) over the last five games, posting double-doubles in three of those five contests. Pruitt tied his career high with 19 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20), had 10 points and 13 rebounds vs. Indiana (Jan. 23), 13 points and 11 boards at Purdue (Jan. 27), 15 points and five boards vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30) and 12 points and six boards vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
• Rich McBride has averaged 12.5 points (100) over the last eight games after combining for just 7 points and making one 3-pointer over the previous three games. McBride scored 15 points against Iowa (Jan. 10), had a team-high 12 points at Michigan State (Jan. 14), nine points at Minnesota (Jan. 17), 15 points vs. Wisconsin (Jan. 20), a team-high 15 points vs. Indiana (Jan. 23), nine points at Purdue (Jan. 27), 12 points vs. Michigan State (Jan. 30) and a team-high 13 points vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
• Brian Randle has shot 66.7 percent from the field (22-33) over the last six games in which he has played, after making just 3-16 in the previous three games. He is averaging 9.0 points (54) over those six games.
• Jamar Smith reached double figures for the first time in nine games with a team-high 13 points vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
• In Big Ten home games, Shaun Pruitt is averaging 13.0 points (78) and 7.7 rebounds (46) and Rich McBride is averaging 12.3 points (74).
• In the second half of games this season, Chester Frazier is averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point range, compared to his averages of 2.3 points, 1.7 assists, 1.6 rebounds, 33.3 percent field goal shooting and 19.2 percent 3-point shooting in the first half of games.
• Rich McBride is tied for sixth place in Illinois history with 189 career 3-pointers. He needs two treys to tie Sean Harrington for fifth on the list.
• Illinois ranks 20th in the NCAA in scoring defense (as of Feb. 1), holding its opponents to an average of just 59.2 points on the season.
• Illinois has had five players miss a combined total of 40 games so far this season due to injury (Richard Semrau-20, Brian Randle-11, Jamar Smith-6, Chester Frazier-2, Warren Carter-1).
• Illinois' leading scorer, Warren Carter ranks 12th in the league with an average of 13.0 points. Carter is also ninth in the conference in rebounding, averaging 6.3 rpg, and ninth in blocks, averaging 1.2 bpg.
• Shaun Pruitt ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and is fourth in field goal percentage (.544, 117-215).
• Pruitt leads the Illini with seven double-doubles on the season.
Last Time Out: Minnesota Illinois rode another solid defensive effort to a 59-49 win over Minnesota on Saturday night at the Assembly Hall.
Leading 31-27 early in the second half, the Illini went on a 21-4 run over a 10-minute stretch to take its largest lead of the game at 52-31.
Minnesota shot just 31.5 percent on the night and made 17 baskets, tying its second fewest number of field goals on the year.
Four Illini players scored in double figures, led by 13 points apiece from Rich McBride and Jamar Smith. Shaun Pruitt reached double figures for the fifth straight game with 12 points, while Warren Carter added 10.
Illinois took care of the ball well, committing just seven turnovers on the evening to tie a season low. The Illini shot nearly 41 percent (22-43) and made seven 3-pointers, compared to just three by the Gophers.
Stats provided by the U of I staff.