FINAL: Illinois 75, Georgia Tech 62
CHAMPAIGN — Joe Bertrand came off the bench — and came to the Illini's rescue.
The junior's second-half surge kept No. 22 Illinois undefeated in a 75-62 win against Georgia Tech at the Assembly Hall. Bertrand finished with 15 points as the Illini finally put away the pesky Yellow Jackets.
Bertrand made three-pointers on consecutive possessions and scored every point in a 10-0 run to ignite the Illini — and the crowd. Illinois (8-0) took charge behind Bertrand, who also scored on a drives in the decisive surge to lift the Illini from a 58-54 deficit late in the second half.
The Illini finished the game on a 21-4 run.
Bertrand scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half. Brandon Paul also scored 15 points for the Illini while forward Tyler Griffey and guard D.J. Richardson had 14 points apiece.
Kammeon Holsey led Georgia Tech (4-2) with 14 points while Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia scored 10 points apiece. The Yellow Jackets appeared to grab control with a 12-3 run midway through the second half for a 54-50 lead.
More to come on HQ.
GEORGIA TECH (4-2)
Carter 2-8 2-2 7, Reed 0-4 0-0 0, Miller 3-7 0-0 6, Udofia 4-4 0-1 10, Georges-Hunt 3-9 1-2 9, Royal 0-2 0-0 0, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Bolden 2-5 0-0 6, Morris 4-7 1-4 10, Holsey 5-6 4-4 14. Totals 23-52 8-13 62.
Griffey 5-7 1-1 14, Egwu 3-6 0-2 6, Richardson 4-10 2-2 14, Paul 5-11 3-9 15, Abrams 2-7 1-1 6, McLaurin 1-4 0-2 2, Bertrand 6-8 0-1 15, Henry 1-4 0-0 3, Langford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-57 7-18 75.
Halftime—Illinois 36-35. 3-Point Goals—Georgia Tech 8-21 (Udofia 2-2, Georges-Hunt 2-4, Bolden 2-5, Carter 1-2, Morris 1-3, Royal 0-2, Reed 0-3), Illinois 14-28 (Richardson 4-7, Bertrand 3-4, Griffey 3-4, Paul 2-6, Henry 1-2, Abrams 1-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Georgia Tech 30 (Carter 7), Illinois 36 (Paul 7). Assists—Georgia Tech 12 (Udofia 3), Illinois 15 (Paul 7). Total Fouls—Georgia Tech 15, Illinois 17. A—12,224.
No. 22 Illinois 36, Georgia Tech 35 — Halftime
Hard to believe Illinois is leading this one at the break. The Illini didn’t play very well, but found a way to claw back.
One of the Illinois coaches said that a particular official (it wasn’t Valentine) is “dominating the game” after a bad foul call against Joseph Bertrand on the offensive end.
More than a couple of times, the Illinois coaches have expressed their frustration with the officials. Looks like they’re just going to have to play through it.
Late in the half Ted Valentine told Groce to wipe off his forehead and relax.
Groce and his staff got ticked off at a couple of players for not getting on the floor for a loose ball. GT got it.
The unforced turnovers are killing Illinois tonight. Georgia Tech isn’t doing anything particularly well to disrupt the Illini, looks like they’re trying to play too fast.
Brandon Paul kept it from getting out of control in GT’s favor.
Tracy Abrams took a bad shot at the end of the half. Groce sought him out, put his arm around him and talked to him about it as they walked into the tunnel.
Michael Finke, a 2014 forward from Champaign Centennial, is sitting courtside with his family.
Finke is sitting one seat away from Illini great Cory Bradford.
Devin Langford got a lot of run in the first half. He’s getting better. And he can really jump.
Brandon Paul leads Illinois with 10 points at the break. He and Abrams (six points) each have three turnovers and four assists.
Illinois turned it over 12 times in the half, many of those early and unforced.
The Illini shot 14 for 30 (46.7percent). Exactly half of their makes and half of their misses were from beyond the arc.
Egwu, Richardson, Bertrand and McLaurin each have two fouls.
Georgia tech, which got eight points from Mfon Udofia, shot 12 for 26 (46.2 percent). They were 5 for 11 from beyond the arc (45.5 percent). They were shooting 21 percent from long range entering the game.
They turned it over eight times.
Check back for a recap after the game. Gonna try to start writing a story here.
Georgia Tech 24, No. 22 Illinois 23 — 9:22 first half
Georgia Tech has started on fire tonight. The Yellow Jackets have hit 7 of their first 10 shots tonight, including 3 of 6 from behind the arc. Illinois is not so hot. The Illini are 6 of 14 and 3 of 7 from deep.
If I had to guess, the Illini are more likely to catch fire, not sure GT can keep this up.
As I said that, Brandon Paul hit a three, Griffey hit a jumper and Bertrand hit another three.
Tracy Abrams got off to another rough start. He’s got two of Illinois’ three turnovers, one was especially bad. But he rebounded to hit a three-pointer. He’ll be al right.
Illinois pressure seemed to get to the Georgia Tech guards early, particularly D.J. Richardson, but the senior is on the bench after picking up his second foul shortly before the first media timeout.
John Groce is desperately looking for a combination that can keep them in it. He’s consulting with his staff every trip down the floor for their input.
Devin Langford getting an early look for the Illini tonight.
The bench is not happy with Ted Valentine. The call, not the histrionics. He called Nnanna Egwu for a foul whileposting up. Groce told Nnanna to keep playing.
Georgia Tech at No. 22 Illinois — Tipoff
They showed a highlight video from the last time Ga. Tech came here a little bit ago. Stephen Bardo was featured prominently. Can't wipe that smile off his face right now. He got a warm reception from the crowd afterward.
The Illinois starters tonight are the same as they have been for all seven games: Tracy Abrams, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Tyler Griffey and Nnanna Egwu.
Really warm and friendly handshake between John Groce and Brian Gregory before this one. They played eachother from their days coaching at their respective schools in Ohio. Lots of respect there.
Looks like the Big Ten might be in trouble tonight. Wisconsin lost at home to Virginia and Michigan State is on the ropes. The league needed a split tonight to win its fourth straight challenge title. Illinois needs to win.
Tight deadline tonight, but the plan is to provide an update once during each half and at halftime. I'll do what I can to keep you informed.
Check out Twitter, I'll update often there (@MarcusJ_NG).
Georgia Tech at No. 22 Illinois — 15 minutes before tipoff
Just ran into Tyler Griffey's dad. Coach Groce mentioned earlier this week the older Griffey calls him often to tell the coach to tell Tyler to get a rebound.
"At least one, shoot, get two or maybe even three," Chris Griffey said.
In case you didn't see, Brandon Paul was named ESPN's National Player of the Week.
Brandon is off to a fantastic start to his senior season. He's not satisfied, though.
"It’s always fun when you’re winning and those individual awards are icing on the cake," Paul said. "I just feel like in this offense, it fits my game a lot more than maybe the past offenses have. That goes for everybody else, too."
Groce said this week that he gets on Brandonprobably harder than anyone else and the team's best player has accepted it. It helps when it comes to coaching the rest of the team when he can get on the top guy. It puts everyone on notice. Brandon is all right with it.
"I’m sure when Kobe watches film, Phil Jackson didn’t just let it go," he said. "No matter who you are, what type of player you are, you’re always going to be coached. Ifg I go in there and they don’t say anything, I’m disappointed in them. I want to get better, nobody has any special treatment."
They're showing a Deron Williams highlight reel here before the game, capped off by the comeback against Arizona in Chicago.
TV Ted Valentine is one of your officials tonight. Saw him on TV last night doing a game. Valentine makes sure you see him if he's working a game. Over/under on monitor reviews tonight? I'll go with 2.5.
Georgia Tech at No. 22 Illinois — 30 minutes before tipoff
As he does before every home game, Rayvonte Rice went through a rigorous pregame workout with assistant coach Paris Parham. Rice, who’s sitting out this season after transferring from Drake, figures to be a key piece in the Illinois rotation next year, the first of the two years of eligibility he has remaining.
Parham said Rice has been consistent in his approach and has practiced at a high level every day.
“He’s a competitor, a high-level competitor. He wants to win every drill, everything we do, he tries to compete to win.,” Parham said. “We’ve been on the road a lot so we haven’t been able to do much, but Friday and Saturday, we’ll get after it pretty hard. Practices are his game days.”
The 6-foot-4 Rice reported his weigh a couple of days ago at 237 pounds. He was 257 when Parham got to Illinois late this summer.
Pretty good turnout so far for the Orange Krush. They got here early and they’ve got most of their allotment of seats on the floor full.
Let’s see if they can fill up some of those seats in Section C.
Frank Lenti Jr., the Emmy Award-winning Frank Lenti Jr., is here getting ready to produce another masterpiece of a video for Illini Productions. The son of the Chicago Mt. Carmel football coach, who like yours truly is a native of South Holland (Nnanna Egwu is, too, despite what the roster says), is giddy after the Caravan won yet another state title last weekend at Memorial Stadium.
Former Illini Stephen Bardo is here calling the game with Bob Wischusen for ESPN2. Bardo was on the floor the last time Ga. Tech came to the Assembly Hall, a 103-92 win for the Flyin' Illini that moved them to 17-0 and to the top of the polls.
Bardo has the Gonzaga game next week, too. He's staying at some fancy hotel up there. I don't think The News-Gazette budget will support me stayng there.
We’ll be back soon with more.
Georgia Tech at No. 22 Illinois — 60 minutes before tipoff
Both teams are on the court going through their pregame routines.
Dustin Ford just put the big men through a spirited workout. The big guys were screaming on their dunks. The energy is there, at least right now it is.
Tyler Grifeey works out with the big men. He’s as confident a player as there is on the Illinois roster, especially after hitting that game-winner the other night. He was a popular guy on Sunday night.
“My phone was blowing up, I had to put it in the other room, I’ve never seen anything like that. It was all good for that night,” Griffey said.
Then reality set in real in real quick. “I’m still making up homework for missing the week in Hawaii. I celebrated by writing a two-page paper that was literally right after the game,” he said.
Tyler was the first guy out on the floor again tonight. I don’t know if anyone shoots more than he does.
Something to keep an eye on tonight is Georgia Tech’s stamina. The Yellow Jackets are at the end of an eight-day road trip. They left Atlanta on Nov. 20 to play in the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, Calif. Ga. Tech played three games in Southern California and will return to Atlanta tonight after the game.
“Gangham Style” is playing at the Assembly Hall. Again, that song can’t die soon enough.
BYU fans made “Parker Style” in an effort to woo Simeon star Jabari Parker to Provo during his official visit last week. Here’s what that looks like.
Be back soon with more.
Georgia Tech at No. 22 Illinois — 90 minutes before tipoff
Good evening, folks. Marcus Jackson here for tonight’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup between the Yellow Jackets and John Groce’s Fighting Illini.
Didn’t think I’d be putting a ranking before Illinois’ name this early in the season, or at any point this season for that matter, but here we are.
At 7-0 with a win in the Maui Invitational and an exciting brand of basketball, the Illini are deserving to this point, but they know there’s work to be done still.
The players are saying all the right things and it’s not just lip service. They’re focused.
“We’ve been ranked before, so it doesn’t mean much,” Brandon Paul said. “I think it means more to the people outside of the team than it means to us. We just want to play the game.”
“It doesn’t change our feeling at all. It’s the rankings at the end of the year that matter to us,” said Tyler Griffey, who hit the game-winner Sunday.
Looking forward to see what the crowd is going to be like tonight. I heard earlier there were A Section tickets available online today. Hopefully some loud folks scoop those up. Looking for a better student turnout, too. I saw on Twitter earlier this week that the Orange Krush will be sporting some new t-shirts from my favorite t-shirt company, Homage, based out of Columbus. You can get one yourself at Homage.com. Five dollars for each shirt sold will go back to the Orange Krush Foundation.
Former Illini Stephen Bardo has the call tonight on ESPN2 with Jets radio play-by-play voice Bob Wischusen.
The last time Georgia Tech visited the Assembly Hall, Bardo was on the floor helping the Flyin’ Illini move to17-0 and No. 1 in the nation with a win against the Yellow Jackets. Some of you may remember, Kendall Gill broke his foot in that game.
Just got off the pregame show in the studio. I’ll be back with another update in a few.