FINAL - Illinois 75, Colgate 55
CHAMPAIGN — Brandon Paul had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the John Groce Era got off to a rousing start Friday night.
Tracy Abrams added 13 points as Illinois won its 14th consecutive season-opener.
Groce won his first game as Illinois coach as the Illini hit 10 of 18 three-pointers in the first half en route to a 43-25 lead at the break. Tyler Griffey added 10 points.
Murphy Burnatowski scored 23 points to lead Colgate.
COMING SOON - Grades, Marcus Jackson's postgame report, video of Orange Hush and Robin Scholz's photo gallery
Illinois 61, Colgate 37 — 10:18 second half
Illinois might have to carry the banner for the Big Ten tonight. The league is 0-2 after Michigan State fell to Connecticut and Purdue lost to Bucknell. Ohio State’s game with Marquette was cancelled after the floor at the outdoor court had too much condensation.
Illinois made an effort to get the ball inside early in the half. Tracy Abrams missed Nnanna Egwu bad on an alley-oop attempt, but then Egwu got loose for a dunk. He then got a technical foul for hanging on the rim. Kind of a weak call.
Then Egwu got a nice little jump hook.
Matt McCumber, the head manager on the 2005 Final Four team and former staffer at Texas A&M, Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois checked in after Brandon Paul drew his second charge of the night: “The Mayans were right!” Make your peace, folks.
Something we didn’t see Sunday, the Illini have remained aggressive to start the second half. More driving to the basket and the defensive intensity has picked up some.
Joseph Bertrand hit a pull-up three that’s going to be impossible to defend.
Paul is playing his butt off.
Devin Langford was the ninth Illinois player to get in the game tonight. He can really get off the ground.
"Gangham Style" has been played approximately 17 times tonight.
Injury report, director of basketball operations Mark Morris is off crutches. He's still in a walking boot after suffering a high-ankle sprain shooting buckets ALONE before Sunday's game.
Illinois 43, Colgate 25 — HALFTIME
On one possession, the Illini missed at least three layups. They might have been fouled just as many times, but nothing was called. Hate to state the obvious, but they’re going to have to finish at the rim on a more consistent basis.
Colgate’s Luke Roh is the brother of Michigan linebacker Craig Roh.
After Colgate tied it at 14 midway through the half, the Illini went on a 12-0 run to create some separation. Still shooting a lot from, the outside, but it’s working. Illinois made 10 of 18 shots from long range in the first half.
Brandon Paul leads with 12 points and four rebounds. He’s also got two assists.
Griffey and Richardson each have six on two three-pointers each.
Bertrand and Myke Henry each have five.
Abrams has a game-high five assists with no turnovers. As a team, Illinois has nine assists and four turnovers.
Worth noting the only time Illinois scored 40 or more points in the first half was against Chicago State.
Illinois held Colgate scoreless for a seven-minute stretch in the half.
Murphy Burnatowski has scored 18 of Colgate’s 25 points. Got to find that guy in the second half.
Illinois 14, Colgate 14 — 10:43 first half
John Groce was happy his team was scoring erly, but he wasn’t thrilled with the high volume of three-point attempts. “Too many threes, drive the ball,” he shouted after Illinois hit its third three-pointer.
Myke Henry’s three four minutes in put the Illini at 12 points and sent the place into a frenzy. A few people cheered early, but it was pretty neat when the fans went nuts.
The rotations have been mixed. Hard to figure out a pattern, but eight guys — Griffey, Egwu, Richardson, Paul, Abrams, McLaurin, Henry and Bertrand — have played.
Illinois’ lone field goal inside the three-point line is a 17-foot pull-up jumper by Joseph Bertrand.
Illinois is 4 for 6 from three and 1 of 7 inside the arc. Four different players made the four Illini threes.
Colgate’s Murphy Burnatowski, a transfer from Maine, has 10 of the Red Raiders’ 14 points. Burnatowski, a strong 6-foot-7 forward, once scored 20 at Penn State and was a member of the America East All-Rookie team as a freshman.
Colgate at Illinois — Tipoff
Illinois starters for tonight are Nnanna Egwu, Tyler Grifey, D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams and Brandon Paul.
Athletic Director Mike Thomas is making the rounds on the floor, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries. I think Thomas nailed the basketball hire. Time will tell.
The Krush was introduced as the loudest student group in the country. They’re going to be quiet for a while tonight, however.
John Groce wzs congratulated by tonight’s officials Terry Wymer, Larry Scirotto and Tim Stewart.
I’ll check in with you at about the 10-minute mark.
Colgate at Illinois — 20 minutes before tipoff
I mentioned Lon Kruger earlier, he’s one of three former Illini coaches heading up programs in the Big 12. Kruger is at Oklahoma, Bill Self is at Kansas and Bruce Weber at Kansas State.
I was on a conference call with ESPN’s Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas earlier this week and they had some great things to say about the Sooners’ second-year coach.
“Lon Kruger is one of those guys who’s a stabilizer. He can take a program and stabilize it and get it rolling in the right direction,” Vitale said. “I think he has such a great feel for understanding how to put a team together, how to get good shots, how to play on the defensive end, how to play as a unit. The guy has been a winner everywhere he’s been, he’s been a flat-out winner. He’s good people as well. He represents that school in a first-class manner. That was a really magical hire because he’s one of the elite coaches that gets no PR. You never hear his name, but you as his peers, he can flat-out coach.”
Colgate at Illinois — 30 minutes before tipoff
Illinois commit Kendrick Nunn just tweeted a photo from Simeon practice today. The Wolverines were taking part in their media day and Nunn was posing for photos with USA Today. Simeon is one of the best programs in the country, not many can say USA Today is in their gym taking photos. Not many college programs can say that. Heck, Illinois isn’t even on TV until Nov. 19.
Stephen Bardo Jr., the son of a Flying Illini legend, is sitting under one basket helping with the television broadcast. The younger Bardo is a spitting image of his father and stands about 6 feet, 6 inches.
Anotherinteresting Krush note, some members are wearing fake bald heads as another homage to their first-year coach who shares a hairstyle with myself. Maybe they’re honoring me?
Huth is talking with Jerry Hester, who also went through a coaching change in his career. Hester went from Lou Henson to Lon Kruger. Make sure you check out Huth’s notes tomorrow in The News-Gazette and here on HQ.
Check out our Facebook page. We just uploaded a photo of the front page after Bruce Weber’s first game at Illinois. A certain Brooklyn Nets point guard was the main photo.
Colgate at Illinois — 45 minutes before tipoff
Sorry for the delay, I was on the pregame show with the great Steve Kelly and eqyally great Loren Tate. Those guys drop some serious knowledge.
Dustin Ford just put his big men through a pregame workout. Tate thinks a big key to the season will be how well those bigs can score on the inside.
I think it’s how the guards handle the pressure opposing defenses are going to hit them with. Truth is, both will be important.
You’ll want to pay attention to the Illini defenders on the perimeter tonight closing out on shooters. Colgate was among the best in the country last year from beyond the three-point line making about 38 percent of its shots. Illinois was among the worst, ranking 318th out of 345 in defending the three. Mitch Rolls and Pat Moore can really shoot it for Colgate.
Jeff Huth, our ace volleyball writer who has returned to the women’s basketball beat this season, has joined me courtside. Huth caught up with a cheerleader, whose job is going to be difficult tonight until Illinois scores its 10th point.
I’m interested in seeing how this Orange Hush deal plays out. I know a lot of fans aren’t excited about the idea, but I think it’s neat for a one-time deal and it’s something John Groce will always remember as his career with Illinois gets off the ground.
What’s going on with Michigan State? Saw they got off to a slow start over in Germany.
We’ll be back.
Colgate at Illinois — 90 minutes before tipoff
Good evening, welcome to the first Illini HQ Live Report of the season and of the John Groce era. Marcus Jackson here and I’ll be here providing updates throughout.
Here’s how this is going to work. I’ll keep you up to speed a few times before the game tips then I’ll try to get you some updates at the 10-minute mark of each half.
Questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter (@MarcusJ_NG). I’ll Tweet frequently throughout.
It seems most of the players are excited to get things rolling. Usually Tyler Griffey and another player or two are out this early shooting around. But eight players are on the floor right now, either being stretched or taking warm-up shots.
Hope you caught the story on Sam McLaurin today. He’s going to be a crucial piece for the Illini as they make the transition between coaching staffs. He’s a veteran of college basketball and already is one of the team’s vocal leaders.
Big Sam turned 23 yesterday. He shares a birthday with Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who turned 22.
Tonight’s game, along with Illinois’ next two contests are not televised. A bit absurd if you ask me. Georgia State is on TV before the Illini. So is Southern Utah, just about everyone gets a game on actual TV before the Illini do. Something isn’t right there.
You can catch tonight’s game on BTN.com as part of its StudentU program. Max Tane, Kyle Milanmow and Taylor Rooks will handle the broacast. They’ve all got bright futures in the business.
I’m going to hop on the pregame show with Steve Kelly for a little bit. I’ll be back.