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CHAMPAIGN — Joe Coleman scored 29 points and Andre Hollins added 19 to help No. 8 Minnesota top Illinois Wednesday 84-67 and remain undefeated in the Big Ten.

The Gophers (15-1, 3-0 Big Ten) held off a charge by the 12th-ranked Illini midway through the second half.

Joseph Bertrand pulled Illinois within at 44-42 on a short jumper with 12:37 left.

But the physical matchup took its toll on the Illini (14-3, 1-2). And as Illinois piled up fouls, Trevor Mbakwe connected on layup with 6:15 to play for a 62-49 lead that Illinois couldn’t overcome.

Mbakwe added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Brandon Paul led Illinois with 21 points. — AP

No. 8 MINNESOTA 84, No. 12 ILLINOIS 67
MINNESOTA (15-1)
Mbakwe 6-10 7-9 19, Williams 3-6 1-4 8, An. Hollins 6-10 6-6 22,  Coleman 10-16 7-8 29, Au. Hollins 2-5 0-0 6, Welch 0-0 0-0 0,  Osenieks 0-2 0-0 0, Ahanmisi 0-1 0-0 0, Walker 0-1 0-0 0,  Ingram 0-0 0-0 0, Eliason 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-51 21-27 84.
ILLINOIS (14-3)
Griffey 0-2 0-0 0, Egwu 4-7 0-0 8, Richardson 5-15 2-2 14,  Paul 6-17 8-9 21, Abrams 5-9 4-6 14, McLaurin 1-3 0-0 2,  Bertrand 2-9 2-2 6, LaTulip 0-0 0-0 0, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 0-3 2-2 2,  Langford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-65 18-21 67.
Halftime—Minnesota 34-30. 3-Point Goals—Minnesota 9-15 (An. Hollins  4-6, Au. Hollins 2-3, Coleman 2-3, Williams 1-2, Ahanmisi 0-1), Illinois  3-24 (Richardson 2-9, Paul 1-6, Griffey 0-1, Henry 0-2, Bertrand 0-3,  Abrams 0-3). Fouled Out—Abrams. Rebounds—Minnesota 37 (Mbakwe 11),  Illinois 33 (Egwu 9). Assists—Minnesota 17 (An. Hollins, Au. Hollins 6),  Illinois 8 (Abrams, Egwu, Richardson 2). Total Fouls—Minnesota 19,  Illinois 21. A—16,618.

No. 8 Minnesota 46, No.12 Illinois 42 — 11:54 second half

Brandon Paul is back in his familiar No. 3 jersey, looks like they got all the blodd off it.

Illinois was cold in the first half and was ice cold to start the second half, missing its first seven shots until Nnanna Egwu hit a jumper four minutes in.

Andre Hollins banking in that halfcourt shot against the shot clock might signify this is the Gophers’ night.

Fans booed the foul called on Nnanna Egwu on Joe Coleman. “(Coleman) jumped right into him,” Groce said.

John Groce was as fired up as he’s been all year after the double foul call on Egwu and Mbakwe. Dustin Ford had to muscle him back to the bench.

Illinois got a defensive stop, Tracy Abrams made a layup to cap a 6-0 Illinois run and the Gophers called timeout.

Illinois would then go on a 10-0 run to cut the Minnesota lead to two.

Bertrand was hit with an intentional foul on a Joe Coleman breakaway that put a pause to the momentum.

This is as loud as it’s been in this building in a long time.

Illinois just got a little bit out of control during the run and the Gophers capitalized.

No. 8 Minnesota 34, No.12 Illinois 30 — halftime

When Minnesota made its line change at the 11-minute mark, one of the Illinois coaches said “Joe’s got a great matchup.” He was being guarded by Oto Osenieks. Joe got off a pull-up jumper, he missed, Myke Henry got the offensive rebound and found D.J. Richardson for a three. It was the second of the night for D.J.

Brandon Paul emerged from the locker room wearing a No. 12 jersey. His No. 3 top has blood on it.

Michael Jordan once wore No. 12 when his No. 23 top was stolen from the Bulls’ locker room prior to a game in Orlando in 1990.

We’re told Paul just had a bloody nose, nothing more.

Minnesota didn’t get its first offensive rebound until the 8:36 mark when Mbakwe got a putback bucket. The Gophers got one the nest trip down from Osenieks. Mbakwe scored shortly after.

Myke Henry has two offensive rebounds. He’s just got a nose for that thing.

Mbakwe mauled Paul on a drive to the bucket. Fans thought it should be intentional. SO did Groce. Trevor helped Brandon up and they hugged it out.

Minnesota killing Illinois with transition buckets after makes and misses. John Groce not happy about it.

Illinois went more than 6 minutes without a field goal before the Joseph Bertrand floater under four minutes.

Apparently I was caught yawning on TV. Got eight text messages about it. Been a long day.

Tracy Abrams missed the last 11 minutes with two fouls. Four Illini (Bertrand, Griffey, Richardson) have two each.

Jerry Hester caught an errant Minnesota pass and immediately cocked it ready to shoot. He’s still got it.

Bad last possession for the Illini. They didn’t get a shot off. Looked like that last possession of the game they lost to Minnesota here a few years ago. The only loss to the Gophers in the last 13 games at home.

Illinois was 8 for 30 (26.7 percent). They were 3 for 16 from three (18.8 percent).

Minnesota was 12 for 25 (48 percent) and 4 for 7 (57.1 percent) from three.

The Gophers outrebounded the Illini 20-18 and got four on the offensive glass.

Illinois turned it over four times, Minnesota seven.

No. 12 Illinois 13, No. 8 Minnesota 11 — 11:30 first half

First play of the game was supposed to go to Tyler Griffey. “He was wide open, fellas,” John Groce  told the bench. He let Brandon Paul know, too.

A very calm Tracy Abrams found Nnanna Egwu for a dunk after drawing a double team trap.

Brandon Paul just did a Sam Thompson impersonation with a poster dunk on Trevor Mbawkwe. The basket counted but he was called for a charge. Not sure how that’s possible. Should have just been a charge, right?

Brandon and Trevor are friends. I’m sure Paul will let him know about it.

Brandon Paul had a nose bleed as he dribbled the ball to shoot free throws. He got it iced and athletic trainer Paul Schmidt tended to the bleed.

Tracy Abrams shot for Paul and made both shots.

“How soon is Brandon ready? Paul, talk to me!” Groce asked.

Brandon had to go into the locker room to get cleaned up.

Mike LaTulip is checking in with Paul currently unavailable. LaTulip last played briefly in Chicago against Auburn.

No. 8 Minnesota (14-1, 2-0) at No. 12 Illinois (14-2, 1-1) — Tipoff (BTN)

Brandon Paul said Saturday he was wearing the same shoes against Ohio State that he wore in his 43-point game last season. It appears he’s wearing the same kicks tonight.

He had been going with two different variations of Chris Paul’s shoe. Chris Paul acknowledged Brandon on Twitter after the Missouri game for wearing his shoes.

They are not related, though in Chris Paul’s State Farm commercial, it’s revealed that he has a long-lost twin brother name Cliff Paul. It’s not real, of course, but Brandon let Chris know that he truly does have a brother named Cliff Paul.

Illinois is going with its usual starting lineup of Abrams, Richardson, Paul, Griffey and Egwu. It’s the 17th straight game that combo has started.

Minnesota is going with Andre Hollins, Joe Coleman, Austin Hollins, Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe.

The Hollinses are not related, though they are both from the Memphis area. Austin Hollins’ father, Lionel, is the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Lou Henson is here and no surprise, he’s shaking hands with anyone who stops by. He’s the best.

A win tonight would be the 100th for John Groce in his career. He enters the game with a 99-58 mark in his fifth season.

A former Illini told me Illinois will win by 15 tonight. If that holds true, I’ll reveal him to you.

Brandon Paul banked in a halfcourt shot before the Illini retreated to the locker room after warm-ups.

Tubby Smith and his mustache shook the hands of everyone on the bench crew prior to the game.

I’m a fan of the stache.

Terry Wymer, Lamont Simpson and Steve McJunkins are your officials tonight.

No. 8 Minnesota (14-1, 2-0) at No. 12 Illinois (14-2, 1-1) — 30 minutes before tipoff (BTN)

Ran into Illinois special assistant to the head coach Brandon Miller in the tunnel a few minutes ago. Miller was on his way to speak to a group of donors to give them a brief scouting report on Minnesota. Brandon does the advanced scouting for the Illini, so the good folks down there are going to get a pretty good feel for what Illinois is trying to do on the floor tonight.

In that group Miller is speaking to is Mannie Jackson. He’ll be honored here with his No. 30 jersey going in the rafters here tonight.

I’ve been trying to talk to Eddie Johnson for a minute, but he’s busy. Eddie says he got here late and the BTN crew has kept him tied up since he’s been here. Maybe I’ll be able to get him at the half.

Minnesota assistant coach Saul Smith, son of Tubby, asked that the Illinois cheerleaders move from the Gophers’ side of the court during warm-ups. The cheerleaders obliged and continued their preparation on the other end.

Saw former Bull Dickey Simpkins here walking the concourse. Simpkins used to coach Brandon Paul on the AAU circuit for a short while.

On the pregame show Loren and I each agreed that it’s high time for Illinois to hit  a bunch of threes.

They’ve gotten good shots, just haven’t gotten them to go down consistently.

“The game Saturday was really strange because we made some really tough shots at the end of the clock and just as many of those that we made, there were ones where stuff we ran, Griff was wide open, no one within 15 feet of him, D.J., stuff we executed really well, I thought we missed some shots where we executed at a high level where we were open and we made some tough ones and some times it goes that way,” Groce said.

No. 8 Minnesota (14-1, 2-0) at No. 12 Illinois (14-2, 1-1) — 60 minutes before tipoff (BTN)

Former Illini Eddie Johnson is on the call for the Big Ten Network tonight. Johnson joined the conference’s television crew this season.

Johnson and Mannie Jackson addressed the team today before the shootaround.

Johnson played at Illinois in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In case you were wondering, he did not play against Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe, the Minnesota forward who is now completing his sixth year of eligibility after suffering some serious knee injuries in his career.

Mbakwe has worked his way back into form this season and is back in the starting lineup. He’s a difference maker.

“He’s a seeker of contact. You’re either an avoider or a seeker. He’s a seeker,” Groce said of Mbakwe. “He’s a load, he is. He’s older. Kind of like Sam’s older for us, I think that may be an advantage. Just like it’s an advantage for us to have Sam.

“Imagine if Sam McLaurin hadn’t been picked up in the spring. Holy cow, he’s been so valuable in a lot of different areas, most of which are his age, his experience, his maturity physically, mentally. Those things are huge assets to our team and I’m sure he brings those assets to Minnesota.”

 A set of booming speakers just started making noise on their own in the corner behind the Illinois bench. Apparently it had something to do with the Big Ten Network.

I told Griffey it sounded like him driving his Saturn Vue down the street. He said the two 12” speakers in his ride can’t produce that kind of bass.

Devin Langford is here. That’s news. He missed the Ohio State game Saturday with an illness.

Minnesota play-by-play man Mike Grimm joined Steve Kelly, Loren Tate and me on the pregame show. He says look for a lot of Mbakwe tonight. Minnesota limited his minutes in the nonconference against some of the lesser competition, but he plays extensively against the big boys.

Be back soon.

No. 8 Minnesota (14-1, 2-0) at No. 12 Illinois (14-2, 1-1) — 90 minutes before tipoff (BTN)

Good evening and welcome to another Illinois basketball Live Report, the second consecutive Illini matchup against a team ranked eighth in the country.

Expecting tonight to be a tougher game than Saturday’s in which Illinois dismantled Ohio State.

Did you catch the Buckeyes last night? They handled Purdue and it looks like Aaron Craft has regained his mojo on the offensive end after going scoreless in two straight. And what can you say about Sam Thompson’s dunk? That’s should have been No. 1 on ESPN last night, no doubt.

As for this one, expect to see some serious high fliers here, too. Rodney Williams can get up with the best of them, as can Illinois’ Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand.

The thing that stands out most about the Gophers is how hard they play. What they lack in skill at some positions, they more than make up for with their collective motor. They lead the country in offensive rebounding, getting about 48 percent of those back.

Illinois had some real serious practices leading to the OSU game and that helped. They had another real tough one Monday and they’ll need a similar carryover to win here tonight.

“The question (last week) was how are we going to respond to some adversity against Ohio State and get up off the mat. I think we answered that question. Now we’re in a different situation where you’re handling a situation where we played well Saturday and did some good things,” coach John Groce said. “Now we’re got to handle that appropriately and bottle up that same toughness and togetherness that we had on Saturday, we’ve got to have that again (tonight) against a very, very physical, athletic, deep No. 1 in the country in offensive rebounding (team).”

Big night here at the Assembly Hall as former Illini and Harlem Globetrotters owner Mannie Jackson will have his jersey hung alongside the other honored jerseys in the rafters. We’ll catch up with Jackson later on.

Another sellout crowd is expected here tonight. Sports information director Derrick Burson says 1,200 tickets were sold the last few days with the help of a social media blitz.

Mike LaTulip was the first player on the floor about two hours before the game. Sam McLaurin and Tyler Griffey made it out shortly after LaTulip.

I’ll be back soon. I’m hopping on the pregame show with Loren Tate and Steve Kelly.

Comments

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LoyalIllini wrote on January 09, 2013 at 9:01 pm

MN way too strong tonite, plus some unexpected miscue spurts from TA that broke momentum.  Hope we can learn from it and get a few more high quality wins like from MI and IN.  Would make this loss more tolerable.

griff507 wrote on January 09, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Down 14 with 4:40 to go. This game reminds me of the game following the Ohio State game last year. They just can't figure out how to bring their "A" game two games in a row. 3 for 20, shooting 3's will never win a game for you. You can not give up 20 dunks, and think you are going to win, you have to stop the fast break. Coach Groce will have plenty to work on at practice tomorrow!

My biggest hope is that this team will keep fighting, not lay down like they did last year.

 

One last thought- BIG 10 refs are THE WORST in the nation!

jules61 wrote on January 09, 2013 at 10:01 pm

THERE IS NO WAY THIS TEAM WILL LAY DOWN!!!! they better not. they are a super talented team and there is not a reason to lay down and die. illini players if you are reading this, we love you and do not expect you to quit....EVER!!!!!!!    : ))))

beekay wrote on January 09, 2013 at 10:01 pm

We have to learn how to get back on defense because the long rebounds on missed 3 pointers just kill us by giving up easy transition buckets.  That hurt us against Mizzou, and it killed us tonight.  I don't even want to see what Trey Burke is going to do to us.