Date: Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Time: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Williams Arena (14,625)
Series: 179th Meeting (64-114)
Series (Home): 88th Meeting (43-44)
Current Streak: W-1
Richard Pitino vs. Illinois: 2-3
Minnesota vs. Big Ten: 748-812*
Richard Pitino vs. Big Ten: 31-50
* – excludes vacated games
• With an 11-2 mark in non-conference play completed, the Minnesota men’s basketball team returns to Big Ten Conference play for the rest of the year, hosting Illinois on Wednesday. This week’s back-to-back B1G home games are the only conference homestand of the season for the Gophers.
• Steadily climbing up the career charts, junior Jordan Murphy recently crossed the 1,000-point mark and entered Minnesota top-10 list for rebounds. Murphy has pulled down 738 boards in his two and a half years in Maroon and Gold, where he now sits seventh behind Ron Johnson (820).
• Murphy is leading the team and Big Ten Conference averaging 19.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game through the first 15 games – the latter statistic second in the nation as well. The three-time Big Ten Player of the Week became the first Gopher to win the award in back-to-back weeks. Murphy is also just the second Gopher to win it three times in the same season. He also leads the country in offensive rebounds (5.1) per game, as of Jan. 2.
• Reggie Lynch is fourth in the country and leading the Big Ten with 3.9 blocks per game. Lynch passed Joel Przybilla on the Gophers’ career list and now sits alone in fifth with 169 career blocks. As a team the Gophers are third in the country with 7.3 blocks per game.
• Murphy has posted 15 double-doubles (highest in the country) thus far this season, doing so in each of the first 15 games of the season. His 12 to start the season was a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in 10 years nationwide, when Michael Beasley did so at Kansas State in the 2007-08 season, and his current run is the most since Tim Duncan had 17 at Wake Forest during the 1996-97 season.
SCOUTING THE ILLINI
• Illinois has compiled a 10-5 record in its first season under head coach Brad Underwood, including a pair of defeats during December’s Big Ten play.
• The Illini fell twice in overtime last month, at in-state rival Northwestern (72-68) and at home against Maryland (92-91).
• Most recently, Illinois has won two straight with victories over Missouri (70-64) on Dec. 23 and Grand Canyon (62-58) on Saturday.
• Leron Black paces the Illini offense, scoring 14.8 points per game as one of three Illinois players to average double figures.
• Illinois is one of the top teams in the nation in forcing turnover, ranking 23rd nationally and second in the conference with a +4.3 turnover margin (as of Jan. 1).
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)