On the heels of three wins in Champaign, the Illini travel to Spokane, Wash., Saturday for their second true road contest (Hawaii, Nov. 16) of the season. The matchup features two undefeated teams, both ranked in the top 13 of the most recent Associated Press poll.
No. 13 Illinois (9-0) @ No. 10 Gonzaga (9-0)
Spokane, Wash. - McCarthey Athletic Center (6,000)
Saturday, Dec. 8 - 9 p.m. CST - ESPN2 (Roxy Bernstein, Stephen Bardo)
Notes (per Gonzaga sports info):
Close win over Washington State: Kevin Pangos had a tough shooting night, until the game was on the line. Then the Gonzaga guard drove the length of the court and made a layup with 2 seconds left for a 71-69 victory over Washington State on Wednesday. Pangos made just 1 of 11 shots before the game-winner. Elias Harris scored 23 points and Kelly Olynyk had 22, all in the second half. Olynyk, who redshirted last season, made 10 of 14 shots to keep Gonzaga in the game in the second half. Motum hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to bring WSU within 68-67. Gary Bell Jr. made a free throw for Gonzaga, and Lacy made a layup to tie the score at 69.
History with the Illini:Saturday will be the fourth straight year Gonzaga and the University of Illinois have played, and will be the sixth meeting overall in the series the Fighting Illini lead 4-1. Saturday’s game concludes a 4-year series which featured a neutral-neutral, home-home format. Gonzaga downed UI 85-83 in overtime at the United Center in Chicago Jan. 2, 2010, Elias Harris scoring on a cross-over move with 12 seconds to play and then grabbing the rebound at the other end of the floor to secure the win. Illinois prevailed Dec. 4, 2010, in The Battle in Seattle and last year 82-75 at Illinois. The Bulldogs lost 76-58 in the 2001-02 season opener at Illinois and 89-72 Nov. 27, 2004, at the Wooden Tradition at Conseco Arena in Indianapolis, Ind.
Pangos piling up the points:Gonzaga sophomore Kevin Pangos hit the 500-point plateau with his 8 points against the University of Oklahoma in the Old Spice Classic, and junior Sam Dower surpassed the 600-point plateau with his 13 points against Lewis-Clark State College this season.
Mark's milestone: Gonzaga head coach Mark Few got his 350th career victory last Saturday against the University of the Pacific, making him one of the eighth youngest head coaches with 350 victories. Jeff Jones of American University also collected his 350th victory last Saturday. Few, born Dec. 27, 1962, shares his birthday with University of Kansas coach Bill Self who has 481 wins. University of Florida coach Billy Donovan is the youngest coach with 350 wins, born May 30, 1965 and with 428 wins through games of Dec. 6.
Kevin Pangos - G, Soph., 6-2, 182 - 10.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.9 apg
Gary Bell - G, Jr., 6-1, 205 - 10.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg
Guy Landry Edl - G, Jr., 6-6, 218 - 7.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Sam Dower - C, Jr., 6-9, 255 - 9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg
Elias Harris - F, Sr., 6-8, 239 - 16.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg
Series record: 4-1
Last meeting: Illinois 82, Gonzaga 75 (Dec. 3, 2011 - Champaign, Ill.)
Series streak: Illinois W2
Record @ Spokane: First meeting
Groce vs. Gonzaga: First meeting
"I think the biggest thing is the word that comes to me is well-rounded. I watch them -- I just don't know if they have a weakness. They've got depth. They've got skill. They've got athleticism. They play hard. They play together. They don't have many weaknesses. I'm concerned about their rebounding. They're great on the glass. They're great in the post. They use the three-point shot effectively. They do a great job on the defensive end and do a great job of mixing it up, whether it's three-quarter court or some zone or man. They execute well." -- Illinois coach John Groce on Gonzaga's team.
Gonzaga team info: