Illini Basketball Preview vs Alabama A&M

IlliniGuys Staff and Sports Information Director

December 17, 2022

#18 ILLINOIS (7-3) Basketball Game Notes

vs Alabama A&M (3-6)

Dec. 17, 2022 | 3 p.m. CT | BTN | Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center

 

#18 ILLINOIS (7-3) vs. Alabama A&M (3-6)
Date | Time Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 | 3 p.m. CT
Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center
Tickets FightingIllini.com
Television BTN (Jason Ross Jr. & Trent Meacham)
Live Stream foxsports.com/live/btn | FOX Sports App
Radio  Busey Bank Illini Sports Network | Varsity Network App | SiriusXM 135/196, SXM App 958

 

Illinois Probable Starters
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Skyy Clark 6-3 200 Fr. 8.1 4.2 2.3 11 pts, career-high 7 reb vs Penn St.
G 0 Terrence Shannon Jr. 6-6 225 Sr. 17.8 5.8 2.8 2nd in B1G in FT (44) & FTA (57)
G 15 RJ Melendez 6-7 205 So. 8.8 3.3 0.7 60.6% FG (20-33) last 5 games
G/F 24 Matthew Mayer 6-9 225 Gr. 8.0 4.1 1.2 17.5 ppg last 2 games (35)
F 33 Coleman Hawkins 6-10 225 Jr. 9.6 6.2 4.2 11.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 5.3 apg last 4 games
Off the Bench
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG APG Note
G 1 Sencire Harris 6-4 160 Fr. 4.4 1.2 0.7 +13 in 18 minutes vs #2 Texas
F 2 Connor Serven 6-9 235 Jr. 0.2 0.8 0.0 Academic All-Big Ten
G 3 Jayden Epps 6-2 190 Fr. 9.3 1.9 1.4 11+ points in 5 of last 7 games
G 10 Luke Goode 6-7 200 So. 2.0 1.8 0.5 2021-22 stats; sidelined (foot surgery)
C 12 Brandon Lieb 7-0 220 Jr. 1.0 1.0 0.0 Academic All-Big Ten
G/F 20 Ty Rodgers 6-6 200 Fr. 2.1 3.0 1.3 Career-high 6 points vs Penn St.
G 22 Paxton Warden 6-4 180 Fr. 0.0 0.0 0.0 Illinois state champion
F 42 Dain Dainja 6-9 270 r-So. 10.4 5.7 0.4 72.6% FG (45-62)

HEAD COACH BRAD UNDERWOOD

Career Record: 210-96 (.686), 10th year
At Illinois: 101-69 (.594), 6th year
Big Ten: 55-44 (.556)

SERIES NOTES VS. ALABAMA A&M

All-Time Record: First meeting
Underwood vs. Alabama A&M: First meeting

The Illini look to get back in their groove after a disappointing 74-59 loss at home to Penn State. After the team's leadership was questioned by head coach Brad Underwood, key players like Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr have resolved to improve their game both on and off the court.

Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier are gone. The two most vocal player leaders of Illini men's basketball will need to have their leadership roles filled. Will it be by Coleman Hawkins or Terrence Shannon, Jr.? Luke Goode is another candidate but he's still not ready to make it back to the court from his foot injury. The best teams are led by players and Shannon is looking to bounce back from a poor outing against Penn State.

Alabama A&M (3-6) should not be a stern test, but the Illini don't want to fall victim to a second upset in a row, especially with the Braggin' Rights game looming large on the horizon. The Illini play the 9-1 Missouri Tigers on Thursday night at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis at 8 pm. The Bulldogs come into the game off of a loss to South Alabama. The Bulldogs have not faced a team as highly ranked as the Illini and the Illini are the first P2 conference opponent for the Bulldogs.

OPENING TIPS

  • No. 18 Illinois returns to action Saturday after a week off for final exams, hosting Alabama A&M (3 p.m. CT, BTN).
  • Illinois has won six straight non-conference home games.
  • Illinois has a 7-1 non-conference record with three games remaining. Illinois is aiming to finish the non-conference with just one loss for the first time in 10 years, since going 13-1 prior to Big Ten play in 2012-13.
  • This is reunion weekend for the Illinois Men's Basketball program, with approximately 60 former players, managers and staff attending Saturday's game. They will be recognized on-court at halftime.
  • Illinois is the only team in the country with two kenpom top-10 wins (No. 4 UCLA and No. 7 Texas).
  • Illinois has seven newcomers among its current 9-man playing rotation. The Illinois rotation features six underclassmen: four true freshmen and two sophomores.
  • Illinois ranks No. 302 in experience according to kenpom, ahead of only three power-5 teams (Washington State, Oregon State, Louisville).
  • Illinois is a balanced offensive team, with seven players averaging at least eight points.
  • Illinois is eighth in the country in blocked shots, averaging 6.0 bpg. The Illini tallied 12 rejections in the win over No. 2 Texas, its most blocks in a game in 11 years.
  • Illinois reserves are combining to score 26.8 points per game. The Illini bench has outscored its opponent in nine of 10 games, and by an average of 11.4 points.
  • The Illini defense is forcing 16.6 turnovers per game, ranking second in the B1G and 43rd in the NCAA. Illinois is scoring an average of 18.7 points off opponent turnovers.
  • Illinois is 2-2 versus ranked opponents this season and has won 13 of its last 21 games against Top 25 teams.
  • Illinois is 12-5 in its last 17 games versus top-10 teams.
  • Illinois has 11 wins over top-10 teams since 2019-20, second-most in the NCAA behind Baylor (12).
  • Illinois is No. 18 in the latest AP poll. Brad Underwood has Illinois in the Top 25 for a fourth straight season after leading the program to a final AP ranking of No. 21 in 2020, No. 2 in 2021, and No. 19 in 2022.
  • Illinois is a dramatically different team this season, welcoming three power-five transfers and a top-10 recruiting class to account for eight newcomers.
  • Illinois is replacing all five regular starters, its top five leading scorers, and a total of 10 players from last year's Big Ten champions. The Illini lost 86% of its points, 80% of its rebounds, and 83% of its minutes played from a year ago.
  • Illinois is the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last three-plus seasons, registering a 44-18 mark in league play. The Illini won the regular season championship in 2022, led the conference in wins while adding a B1G Tournament crown in 2021, and finished one game back of the title in 2020.

 

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