UI 75, Ga. Tech 62: Way to go, Joe!

UI 75, Ga. Tech 62: Way to go, Joe!

CHAMPAIGN — Late in the second half with Georgia Tech leading Illinois 58-54, Illini coach John Groce threw his arms in the air to wake the nervous Assembly Hall crowd on Wednesday night.

The 12,224 responded.

Joseph Bertrand did, too.

The 6-foot-6, fourth-year junior did what he does. He ignited the crowd himself, going on a personal 10-0 run, sandwiching a pair of layups with two three-pointers to give No. 22 Illinois a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in a 75-62 win against the Yellow Jackets in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Joe,” Groce said. “Joe always competes. He brings big-time energy. I never watch practice film and say Joe is not playing hard. He competed on the backboard and he was good in zone. Made plays on offense and ignited that 21-4 run.”

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The coach even learned something about the jumping-jack guard he didn’t know until after the game.

Good friend and teammate Brandon Paul let it slip that Bertrand was a gymnast during his days growing up in Sterling.

“Joe, you were a gymnast?” a startled Groce asked.

“I still have it all,” Bertrand shot back.

He didn’t have to do it all alone, however. Bertrand (three rebounds) and Paul (seven assists, seven rebounds) each scored a game-high 15 points to pace Illinois (8-0). D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey added 14 apiece for the Illini, who have won four in a row in the annual challenge pitting the two basketball-rich conferences.

The Illini’s win helped salvage a split for the Big Ten, which entered the night with a 4-2 lead on the ACC.

Late-night wins by Duke (against Ohio State) and Boston College (against Penn State) made it 6-6.

“Those senior guards are good, they have been for a long time,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “They’re playing with a greater sense of urgency now.”

Georgia Tech entered the game shooting 21 percent from behind the three-point line, but stunned the Illini early, nailing 5 of 11. Illinois mixed a lot of zone with its man-to-man in the second half to limit the Yellow Jackets to just three more threes in a 27-point second half.

Groce said he wouldn’t have been bold enough to predict an 8-0 start to begin his first season at Illinois, but he likes where his team is. And as is often his refrain, he’s not satisfied and neither are his players.

He used a Will Rogers quote to relay his thoughts on his team moving forward.

“Even if you’re on the right track, if you sit still, you’ll get ran over,” Groce said. “We’re on right track, but we don’t want to sit still, we’re going to keep getting better.”

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illiniearl wrote on November 29, 2012 at 12:11 am

Joe Bertrand crazy shot is #3 on the ESPN top 10 plays for 28 Nov.     Way to go Joe!   Way to go Illini!

Happy days are here again!

P.S.   Help me out Marcus - I still need a ticket or pass to the Zag game!  Let me know if you need a personal assistant to help you our during your visit to Spokane.

illinigator wrote on November 29, 2012 at 7:11 am

One thing I have notice about this team is they can play in spurts.  They can look really good for 10 minutes then go flat for 5 or 6 minutes and then come back strong agaIn.  They seem to need a spark like Bertrand and Griffey gave them.  But, when you live by the 3's you can also die by them.  But, it is a heck alot better and exciting this year than the boring games the past few years.If Weber would allowed this group to play their game last year could have been better.  I think he screwed Griffey and Bertrand by not allowing them to play their game.  Just think how good Myers Leonard would have been playing under Groce this year.

OKOMIS wrote on November 29, 2012 at 7:11 am

What a good night!! Illini win!!!!!!  Izzo’s MSU lose!!!!!!!!

geriatricillini wrote on November 29, 2012 at 8:11 am

What I enjoy is we have a coach who actually props up the players and doesn't drag them down after every game ...hopefully we will hear the same kind of thing after we lose one. Not that the players sometimes don't deserve a calling out every once in a while, just not all the time like in the recent past...

blmillini2 wrote on November 29, 2012 at 8:11 am

Great game to watch- a little concerned about the lack of inside play but maybe that is typical of JG teams.?

Just an observation, noticed a number of empty seats in A section last night (from my easy chair at home)---- also A section was virtually empy in the last minute of the game.

Is it just me, but does that look a little bad-particularly on national TV.


I saw no one leaving Assembly Hall at IU in a 30 point blowout- the folks in Michigan stayed until the end-there is never an empty seat seen at Duke--even the plodding Badgers fill their arena etc,etc

if IL is going to be a top 10 program should not the fans stay around --- how long does it take to drive to Monticello?


Just sayin



Bwp 5P wrote on November 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

I went on stub hub yesterday...looking at tickets for several games. Here's the issue: WHOEVER owns many of those seats, wants your 1st born for them! Who is really going to pay $4-500 for a ticket? Not most of us. So instead of selling them for a reasonable price, and putting a fan in those seats, and recouping "something".....they eat them, gain nothing, and we show all those empty seats on National TV!

I've said it over and over.....the University needs to figure out a way to move people into those seats if they aren't occupied within a certain time frame.

lmaran wrote on November 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

Many empty seats in A, or "large donor" seats, are busy being "snow birds" down here. A guy in my street has two of those seats.



dogmechanic wrote on November 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  It bothers me every year to see all of those seats in the A section empty.  Did not see that at the Wisky game.  Also noticed the top of the Hall was empty in most places.  To me it looks very bad.  This happens every year and I can't figure it out.  If you're not going to use your seat let someone else have it.  B section looked full on tv

  In general, good atmosphere at The Hall

ATOillini wrote on November 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

Ditto the comments regarding section A (including leaving early). This problem must be fixed. We're on our way back. We need the crowd to show that. The Assembly Hall looks soooo good on tv when it's rocking.

wolfe wrote on November 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

University won't move people out of seats regardless until they either build new venue or remodel the AH. 

If the remodel they will do what they did with Football and start with the top level donors and move down from there.  Would fix some of the empty A section seats but not all of them.


I agree on the drive home.  With 3 minutes left people were filing out the doors like the ship was sinking.  I have over a 2 hour drive and never leave before the final horn.  I can't stand to see people leave when I know most of them will be home in bed asleep before I get out of champaign county.


Good game, would like to have them be in the lead more but I guess I'll have to work at keeping my blood pressure down on my own.


Go Illini.

read the DI wrote on November 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Good win. Spacing is much better than under Weber, which allows the players to get clean looks at the basket. It was much easier to guard them under Weber's so-called motion, in which the players essentially kept running into each, then hoisting a 3 as the shot clock expired. And lo and behold, transition buckets! Hadn't seen one of those since Dee Brown graduated.


HoosierIllinois wrote on November 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

But...it's great to see that all of the negative comments are directed at us (the unsupportive fans) rather than the coach & players.

blmillini2 wrote on November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am



it was an observation---- not being critical ----if you disagree with the "observation" just say so.


Sayin again - a top 10 program would not have A section empty with a minute to go