UI 78, Hawaii 77 (OT)

UI 78, Hawaii 77 (OT)

HONOLULU — D.J. Richardson drained a three-pointer at the overtime buzzer, capping a comeback from a 16-point second-half deficit and giving Illinois a wild 78-77 victory over Hawaii on Friday night.

The back-and-forth game did not wrap up until after 2 a.m. C-U time.

"That's how Coach set it up," Richardson said. "Tracy found me in the corner and I knocked down the shot."

For video of D.J.'s shot, visit our HQ Facebook page here

The win gives John Groce's Illini momentum heading into the second part of their Hawaiian adventure: Monday's Maui Invitational. They open with another late-night affair: 11 p.m. against USC.

At least that one's on TV. The Illini's first three games weren't televised - and Friday's thriller might go down as one of the best games Illinois fans never saw.

Richardson's buzzer-beater - which was reviewed by game officials - followed one by Hawaii's Vander Joaquim, who hit a jumper at the end of regulation to force overtime. Before that, Brandon Paul's basket with 2:08 to play had given the Illini (3-0) their first lead of the game.

The teams traded baskets in the extra session before Jace Tavita made one of two free throws to give the Warriors (3-1) a 77-75 lead with 7 seconds left and set the scene for Richardson, who finished with 16 points.

Paul scored 25 points, including five three-pointers, for Illinois, and Tracy Abrams added 22. Richardson, Paul and Abrams combined for 63 of the team's 78 points. 

"Our three perimeters were terrific," Groce said. "All three of them stepped up big."

Abrams assisted on Richardson's dagger in front of the Illinois bench. He had five steals and three assists.

"Tracy was locked in," Groce said. "He maybe played the most complete game on both ends of the floor."

The Illini closed with a 9-3 run in overtime to win it.

"We showed big heart tonight," Richardson said. "We fought back. They went on a run, we went on a run."

Said Groce: "I thought the kids showed great resolve."

The Illini improved to 7-0 against Hawaii. Somehow.

The Illini made just two of their first 14 shot attempts and shot 30 percent in the first half as Hawaii took a 41-28 lead at break.

"We got away with one," Groce said.

But the Rainbows had their own problems: turnovers (16) and poor free throw shooting (17 of 31).

It was an emotional night for the Illini, who dedicated the game to radio analyst Jerry Hester, whose father passed away Friday. Hester worked the game nonetheless opposite Steve Kelly.

It was only fitting Richardson, like Hester a Peoria product who went on to put up big numbers at Illinois, sank the game-winner.

"My dad would want me to be here," Hester said. "I think he willed that shot in.

"An unbelievable end to this basketball game. So many swings." Groce hugged Hester afterward and became emotional in the postgame radio segment. "I told him his dad would have been proud," Groce said.

It was Hawaii which landed the early punches, outplaying Illinois from the opening tip.

"They popped us in the mouth first," Groce said.

Joaquim led the Warriors with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandon Spearman - a Chicago product out to prove something against many of his former AAU teammates - added 20 points and nine boards.

But Illinois kept its perfect season going.

"They kept swinging and swinging," Groce said. "At the end, we made enough plays to win it."

Illini players took to Twitter after the game. This from Paul: "Thanks 2 the fans out here that watched, & the ones at home who sacrificed their sleep 2 watch us pull 1 out!" This from Richardson: "Amazing game!!!!!!!! Thanks to the man above....." ILLINOIS (3-0)

Richardson 5-14 2-2 16, Paul 7-14 6-8 25, Abrams 9-16 2-6 22, Egwu 2-7 0-0 4, Griffey 1-5 0-0 2, McLaurin 2-3 1-2 5, Bertrand 1-3 0-0 2, LaTulip 0-0 2-2 2, Shaw 0-1 0-0 0, Henry 0-1 0-0 0, Langford 0-0 0-0 0, Djimde 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-64 13-20 78.

HAWAII (3-1)

Tavita 1-2 1-3 3, Joaquim 8-15 4-9 22, Brereton 3-11 3-4 10, Spearman 7-14 4-6 20, Standhardinger 4-15 3-5 12, Jefferson 0-2 1-2 1, Rozitis 2-3 0-0 4, Clair 0-0 0-0 0, Fotu 2-4 1-2 5. Totals 27-66 17-31 77.

Halftime_Hawaii 41-28. End Of Regulation_Tied 66. 3-Point Goals_Illinois 11-31 (Paul 5-10, Richardson 4-12, Abrams 2-4, Egwu 0-1, Griffey 0-4), Hawaii 6-14 (Joaquim 2-2, Spearman 2-3, Standhardinger 1-1, Brereton 1-5, Tavita 0-1, Jefferson 0-2). Fouled Out_Egwu. Rebounds_Illinois 31 (Richardson 6), Hawaii 51 (Joaquim 11). Assists_Illinois 8 (Abrams 3), Hawaii 14 (Tavita 7). Total Fouls_Illinois 26, Hawaii 17. A_7,550.



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aaeismacgychel wrote on November 17, 2012 at 2:11 am

Absolutely effing incredible win.  I could spend a ton of time describing in the greatest of detail how bad our fundamentals were for most of the game, and how outside of Brandon Paul, Tracy Abrams, and Nnanna Egwu (defensively) I don't even know if a single other player did anything useful in the first 35 minutes.  It was like we were playing 2 on 5 on offense and 3 on 5 on defense.  But while I could talk about that and how it seemed like we wouldn't have been able to box out a 5th Grade Girls team tonight, I will instead talk about what went right in this game:

1. We did not quit.  We fought to the freakin' end and we showed heart doing it.  I hope our football players saw this game.

2. Brandon Paul and Tracy Abrams, wow, just wow.  Abrams playing every bit as good and more as the player we thought we got when we recruited him.  Hell of a game on both sides of the floor for the kid.  He reminds me of a better shooting Chester Frazier.  He has the heart of a champion and a player we've deperately needed since well Chester Frazier graduated.  And Brandon Paul stepping up again, all but carrying the team on his back making huge shots late.  He's a big game player and the Illini need him to be this year.

3. Nnanna Egwu.  Hell of a job doing your best Mbakwe impression on defense.  If he can limit the fouls, he has the leap and shot blocking ability to be intimidating.

4. DJ effing Richardson!  Man have you been slumping for what seemed like years, but after missing and missing and missing today, out of nowhere you hit three 3s and get a key steal with the game on the line including burying the game winner as time expired.  I could not believe it.  What a great time to bust out of the slump.

5. We finally got over the hump.  I can't believe it.  Last year we cut in down to 5 points and had a wide open shot and several chances to really start putting the heat on the opponent and we missed every single time.  Today we didn't.  Amazing what making shots at key points when the game is on the line will do for ya.

Really good win tonight.  Now let's ride this to a win over USC.  If we can do that, this trip is a success no matter what happens against Texas.  Great game and goodnight.

jdstieg wrote on November 17, 2012 at 5:11 am

Thanks for the effing summary.  Great job.  Go Illini!

JimOATSfan wrote on November 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

Gotta love this version of the Illini. The Assembly Hall will rock this season if they really do play hard wire-to-wire every game.  At one point in the second half,  about 4 Illini had scored and the rest were something like 0-27.

Now we need the highlights posted on the web somewhere .... Great win.  Cheers!

peterborich wrote on November 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

Oh c'mon, Coach Groce is just winning with Weber's recruits....or, if Weber were still here, we would have beaten the Rainbow Warriors by 30.......or, Meyers Leonard would have scored 50 points last night in his junior season if Weber had not been unfairly canned..........Sincerely, Tom Izzo


lmaran wrote on November 17, 2012 at 8:11 am

I was disappointed not to be able to watch the game lastnight; for one, it was so late in So. Fla! I did try still, but I could not adjust the setting to get rid off the frequent "buffering...." Anyway, I will be hoping a high-light recap shows up somewhere.

I am excited and hopeful, as long-time fans generally are, about this team and the coaches. The news about Hester's Dad was touching, making it fittingly human.




IMAN wrote on November 17, 2012 at 8:11 am

Wow, talk about disappointing.   After the first 10 minutes againts the fighting frannies at home, I was very worried about out defense and this chuckathree team.    Sadly I was right.  This is going to be a long season because we are going to get killed by real D1 teams.   

BTW, to those of you who thought we took too many threes last year, Groce's Ohio team took 200 more 3 attempts last year, and with 31 freaking attempts last night you see what is coming.  That might work in the MAC, it isn't going to work in the B1G.  


lmaran wrote on November 17, 2012 at 9:11 am

IMAN, didn't Groce use to coach at the OSU, and did pretty well there? And of course, his Ohio U team knocked off Mich in the NCAA. Why prejudge so much? 



IlliniMike05 wrote on November 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

Oh, man, this is awesome. I JUST posted the following on Facebook: "Where are my Illinois fans whining like petulant, spoiled children that we shouldn't have been down 16 in the first place or needed a buzzer-beater in double OT? I know Groce has (rightfully) brought a lot of optimism, but c'mon....you idiots know you're out there."

The next site I go to? Here. And there it is. Well played.

And there's no such thing as "taking too many threes" in and of itself. It doesn't matter what kind of shots you take if they're good looks and you have capable shooters. We've been creating good looks, and we have capable shooters. Missouri, Purdue, Florida, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan and Vanderbilt all ranked in the Top 25 in offensive efficiency last year relying as much- or more- on the three-pointer than Groce's last Ohio team.

(A majority of those teams, you may have noticed, play in the Big Ten. So, yeah, you can shoot a bunch of threes and have a good offense in the Big Ten. In fact, it looks like it might be preferable unless you have a dominating big like Zeller or Sullinger.)

You know who else did? The 2004-2005 Illinois Fighting Illini. They did OK.

(No, just to cut you off, this isn't me saying this team is as good as the '05 Illini, or even any of those teams listed above. It's me saying it's dumb to complain about the number of three-point attempts in and of itself without context. First of all, they took 31 in an overtime game. Second, they've made 41 percent so far this year, and that's with D.J. only making 9 of 29 so far. While I don't expect us to keep hitting over 40 percent of our threes, I think there's enough good shooters on this team that we can keep shooting them (at a high volume) at 37-38 percent.

If you want to be concerned about something, be concerned about getting killed on the glass. Or just be happy we found a way to win a tough game we wouldn't have won last year. Or be miserable. Whatever. 

afan wrote on November 17, 2012 at 9:11 am

I like how Illinois is using the 3 pointer as a weapon this year more then a last desperate resort.  The Illini were dominated on the boards, but gave themselves a chance to win by tuning over the Rainbow Warriors 16 times, and hitting just enough of their 3's.  In a game where they didn't shoot particularly well Illinois' adjusted 3 point FG % was just over 47%.  (I added 33% to reflect the extra point).  Not bad on what was an off night shooting when compared to the first two games.

afan wrote on November 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Sorry, I should've added 50% not 33% to the 3 point FG % giving Illinois 53% equivalent FG shooting.

PortlandIllini wrote on November 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

Let's savor the moment,  shall  we?    This was a true away game played in front of 7500 screaming fans,  four times zones away from campus,  and in a location filled with potential distractions.  There are many teams that come to Hawaii,  have a fine time on the beach, and fly home with a loss. 

What is most encouraging to me are three points.   The Illini came back from a double digit deficit on the road;  Coach Groce designed a game winning shot at the end; and our guys executed it to perfection.   

This tells me that the Illini have recovered from their  'hangover'  from the slump of last season.


IlliniMike05 wrote on November 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

This. All of this.

Well said.

To basketball savants like IMAN: no one's saying this is a sign that we're headed to the Final Four. It was an encouraging, hard-fought win in a tough environment that there's no way we'd have won last year.

GW wrote on November 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

And to add to Portlandillini's comments, this is their first road game under a new coach and system. To be able to pull it out in OT, that says something in itself.


Moonpie wrote on November 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

Great they won. Was happy to hear it.

But is Hawaii even any good? The story makes it seem like a comeback against Duke.

And 3-0, against cupcakes, is a perfect season?

Da Sleepy Gazoo is so funny.

lmaran wrote on November 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hawai'i is not Duke for sure, but they run and run, grab and poke. Listening to the pregame chat with their coach I got the impression that Hawai'i planned to handle the Illini the way Missouri did the last two years. In that sense Hawai'i is more difficult to play against. 

If you look at the stat sheet you'd say there's no way Illinois won that game.

azfan wrote on November 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Cowpie says he was a reporter. do you wonder if he was fired by the mean on Gazoo? I wish he would go away but it will never happen. His plan is to irritate and he does a very good job.


Moonpie wrote on November 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

Thanks, Azfan. But notice I don't make fun of your name--or question whether you really live in Arizona. I lived in Phoenix--but you don't have to believe me, of course. You sound kind of tea party--anyone not exactly like you, or with different views--you shout them down and insist they must leave. My friend--different views are allowed here. You can't change that. Maybe you're the one who should depart so as to protect your fragile psyche. Looks like I made fun of you after all--sorry. But you're the one telling folks they must leave.

IlliniMike05 wrote on November 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I don't know about that. They missed 14 FTs, we made 11 threes to their 6, and turned it over 8 times to their 16.

The only stat they had a real edge in was rebounding, and without going through the play by play (which I'm not going to) I have no idea how many second-chance points they got from their offensive boards.

Statistically, it looks like the turnovers and foul disparity were actually the only things that kept THEM in the game.


IlliniMike05 wrote on November 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

How does this article make it seem like a comeback against Duke, you lunatic? Please, be specific. Is it the straight-forward game recap? Is it the quotes from excited players and coaches? What is wrong with you, you dangerously insane person?

And this isn't a News-Gazette article. It's a wire article because they don't have a reporter in Hawaii yet. You are every negative stereotype of message board blowhards. If I had the power to excommunicate fans from fanbases of teams I cheer for, you'd be at the front of a long line. 

Moonpie wrote on November 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

IlliniMike05--so we all understand: people who disagree with you are lunatics? Wow--how tolerant of you. Did you know that there is no rule requiring posters here to all agree or all dress alike or look alike or think alike? Just keep voting tea party, my friend.

Here's what a real man would do--rebut my view diplomatically and effectively, citing evidence. Instead, you turn to hate and intolerance.

Have a nice dang day.

jeffh wrote on November 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hawaii may not be Duke, but it's not a cupcake either -- among other things their fans are supposed to be some of the most rowdy and nasty around. So a tough, gritty win like this one in their building is to be savored.  

And I'll say this -- if the team goes on a good run from this point, today's game will be regarded as the first "landmark" game of the Groce era.  

It was the most uplifting & enjoyable basketball victory in recent years.  

Great stuff Guys!p

azfan wrote on November 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

Sorry cowpie i'm a long way from the Tea party. Didn't your mommy tell you if you don't have anything good to say shutup. You never answered did you get fired by the Gazoo? As far as you making fun that is good sport I have been had by experts. You are not one. I would bet you are probably the guy who sat behind me for 30 years and a told everyone else about the game. You didn't know anything then either.