Dec 9, 2012, 9:49 AM EST
For many, seeing No. 13 Illinois included in the nation’s Top 15 wasn’t worth much more than a storyline.
First-year coach John Groce, inheriting a team from now-Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, had led the Illini to a 9-0 record coming into Saturday night’s match-up with Gonzaga. Problem was, the Zags had been beating an opponents by an average of nearly 25 points per game.
This “good story” couldn’t withstand that, especially on the road, right? Wrong.
Illinois guard Brandon Paul tallied 35 points on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting to lead all scorers in the Illini’s 85-74 win Saturday night in Spokane.
“I kept telling everybody, `This is it. We’ve got to take this right now,” Paul said after the game, recalling his team’s mindset at halftime. “We’re not playing well, but we’re still in this game.”
“A lot of people doubted us,” Paul said, as reported by the AP. “We came into the game as underdogs. We love that stuff.”
After a slow start and falling down 8-0 and eventually 12-3 in the opening minutes, Illinois dialed up the defensive pressure. Groce’s team would force 16 turnovers on the game and hold Gonzaga to 28 percent from behind the arc on its way to a win.
Much of the offensive attack centers around what Paul is able to do, complemented in the backcourt by Tracy Abrams (13 points) and D.J. Richardson (10 points), who were the other two Illini players in double figures.
But with everything centered around Paul, it raises a red flag. If he shoots poorly on any given night, is there enough around him to pick up the slack? The Illini might just answer as they go along.
Check out video highlights of the game here, courtesy of Illinois athletics.
Mar 2, 2015, 1:55 PM EST
Trae Jackson broke his foot in mid-January.
Mar 2, 2015, 12:45 PM EST
Sulaimon was dismissed from the team in January of this year.
Mar 2, 2015, 12:25 PM EST
Austin Nichols was the bright spot for the Tigers this season.
Mar 2, 2015, 11:25 AM EST
In addition to the Crusaders and Phoenix, keep an eye on Cleveland State and Oakland.
Mar 2, 2015, 9:27 AM EST
The latest bracket projections from our Dave Ommen.
Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 AM EST
Baylor picked up two huge wins, while Pointer led the Johnnies into the tournament this week.
Mar 2, 2015, 6:10 AM EST
Kentucky is still No. 1, but there’s a bit of a shake-up in the rest of the top ten.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:21 PM EST
Oregon is 6-0 in games decided by five points or less this season. Bell’s key plays factored into the Ducks getting that sixth win on Sunday.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:08 PM EST
Who were Sunday’s bubble winners and losers?
Late Night Snacks: No. 5 Wisconsin wraps up share of Big Ten title while Pitt, Stanford suffer damaging losses
Mar 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EST
Wisconsin hadn’t won the Big Ten since 2008, although they’ve never finished worse than fourth during Bo Ryan’s tenure in Madison.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:57 PM EST
The Governors have posted four consecutive losing seasons, but their top three scorers are expected back in 2015-16.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:29 PM EST
Davon Dillard announced his commitment to Cal Sunday afternoon. The Golden Bears hope to reel in the two big men who were also on campus in Ivan Rabb and Caleb Swanigan.
Mar 1, 2015, 5:11 PM EST
Austin Nichols injured his ankle early in the second half of Memphis’ loss
Mar 1, 2015, 4:30 PM EST
Northeastern’s Devon Begley had to deal with a unique defender, the mop boy, while scoring off of a steal against College of Charleston.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
Rodney Purvis just crushed this dunk.
Mar 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Michigan point guard Spike Albrecht has been battling a hip injury this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EST
Maryland might miss Michal Cekovsky for some time after the freshman big man was injured during warm-ups on Saturday.
Mar 1, 2015, 11:30 AM EST
Kaelon Wilson put it on a defender on Saturday.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EST
Kansas State picked up a Class of 2015 guard commitment on Sunday.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
A quiet Sunday features some bubble teams clashing.
- Mike Krzyzewski refuses comment on Rasheed Sulaimon sexual assault allegations 5
- Bracketology: Villanova takes ahold of the fourth No. 1 seed 1
- College Basketball Talk’s Latest Top 25: How far will Wisconsin and Gonzaga fall? 9
- Bubble Banter: Oregon lands a key win, but Purdue, Stanford and Pitt lose 0
- Late Night Snacks: No. 7 Arizona, No. 11 Wichita State and No. 19 Baylor among Saturday’s big winners 1
- Did Gonzaga cost themselves a No. 1 seed with loss to BYU? 5
- Kaleb Tarczewski produces another quality outing as No. 7 Arizona beats No. 13 Utah 0
- You Make the Call: Was Texas guard Isaiah Taylor fouled on this drive? (14)
- Report: Former Louisville guard Chris Jones charged with rape, sodomy (13)
- Bill Self crushed, Jamari Traylor targeted during Kansas State court storm (VIDEO) (11)
- Dez Wells, Melo Trimble lead No. 14 Maryland to upset of No. 5 Wisconsin (9)
- Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings apologizes for postgame outburst directed at freshman guard Wade Baldwin IV (9)