Scouting Illinois

News, notes and quotes on No. 1 seed KU's matchup with No. 9 Illinois tonight at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., at approximately 7:40 (CT) in the third round of the NCAA tournament Southwest Regional. Kansas (33-2) opened the Big Dance with a 72-53 victory over No. 16 seed Boston University on Friday.

SCOUTING Illinois

Illinois (20-13) was impressive in beating UNLV, 73-62, in its opening game of the NCAA tournament on Friday. Senior forward Mike Davis tied his season high with 22 points, while senior guard Demetri McCamey added 17 points and seven assists. Illinois shot 59.6 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from beyond the arc, while holding UNLV to just 38.9 percent shooting and 29.2 percent from three-point range.

The Illini, which had won just 10 of its previous 16 games, finished 9-9 in the Big Ten. Illinois is 5-10 against top 50 RPI teams this season with key wins over North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Gonzaga.

McCamey leads the attack with a team-high 14.5 points per game, 97 assists, and 44.3 percent three-point shooting. Davis is next in scoring (13.1 ppg, team-high 7.4 rpg), followed by senior center Mike Tisdale (10.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, team-best 31 blocks) and sophomore guard Brandon Paul (9.6 ppg).

Illinois averages 71.3 points per game and allows 65.1. The Illini are shooting 47.1 percent from the field, 39.0 percent from three-point range, and 72.8 percent at the free-throw line. They're holding opponents to 40.1 percent shooting and 30.5 percent from beyond the arc, while outrebounding foes 34.8 to 32.9 boards per game.

Head coach Bruce Weber is 193-85 in his eighth season at Illinois and 296-139 in his 13th season overall.

DEFENDING THE ILLINI

Illinois is a motion team with big men who can shoot from the perimeter.

"The hardest teams to guard are teams that run motion that really know what they're doing, and they know what they're doing," KU coach Bill Self said. "A lot of times, if you're defending motion, you have to use one guy to clog it up, and you can't do that with Illinois, because all their guys can make shots to 17, 18 (feet) and beyond that.
           
"So I think it's a game which we have to be as alert defensively as we've been at any point in time this year."

Containing McCamey will be key. Illinois is 15-0 when he gets at least seven assists, as he did against UNLV.

"It's an amazing stat," Self said. "He's a big key to their team.  I thought (against UNLV) he controlled that game about as well and about as much as a point guard can control a game, and only have 17 points. ... He's very unselfish. He can score, but he always looks for guys that are open. He's really good, but physically he's gifted because he's strong and fast."

"(He) really, really can split a ball screen," Self added. "He can shoot threes behind it. He's got unbelievable range, and he makes the game really easy for others."

ILLINI REUNION

Self coached three seasons at Illinois from 2000-2003, where he compiled a 74-27 record and led the Illini to the Elite Eight in 2001 and Sweet 16 in 2002. Illinois tied for first in the Big Ten in both 2001 and 2002.

Weber succeeded Self as head coach at Illinois after Self took over at Kansas in 2003.

Self admits he has his juices flowing a bit extra playing a team he used to coach.

"Certainly the fact that we're playing a school that I coached at, in my mind, isn't motivation, but I'm probably a little bit more amped up and watched a little more tape or whatever the case would be, just like I'm sure they're doing, too," Self said.

KU-ILLINOIS SERIES

Illinois leads KU 3-2 in the all-time series. The teams last met in the 2002 NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal on March 22, 2002, in Madison, Wis., where KU prevailed, 73-69, over Self's  Illini. Self's Illinois team beat KU the previous year, 80-64, on March 23, 2001, in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal in San Antonio.

The series dates back to 1987 when Illinois beat KU, 81-75, in the Maui Invitational.

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