1997–98 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team

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1997–98 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball
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Conference Big Ten Conference
Ranking
Coaches #23
AP #22
1997–98 record 23–10 (13–3 Big Ten)
Head coach Lon Kruger
Assistant coach Robert McCullum
Assistant coach Rob Judson
Assistant coach Steve Henson
MVP Jerry Hester
MVP Kevin Turner
Captain Jerry Hester
Brian Johnson
Matt Heldman
Home arena Assembly Hall
Seasons
« 1996–97 1998–99 »
1997–98 Big Ten Conference men's basketball standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   PCT     W   L   PCT
#16 Michigan State 13 3   .813     22 8   .733
#22 Illinois 13 3   .813     23 10   .697
#11 Purdue 12 4   .750     28 8   .778
Iowa 9 7   .563     20 11   .645
Indiana 9 7   .563     20 12   .625
Penn State 8 8   .500     19 13   .594
Minnesota** 6 10   .375     15 15   .500
Northwestern 3 13   .188     10 17   .370
Wisconsin 3 13   .188     12 19   .387
Ohio State 1 15   .063     8 22   .267
#12 Michigan* † 0 5   .000     0 8   .000
1998 Big Ten Tournament winner
Rankings from AP Poll
*Michigan: 24 reg. season games inc. Big Ten Tourn. Champ.; 2 NCAA Tourn. games vacated due to sanctions against the program
**Minnesota: 5 NIT games vacated inc. NIT champ. vacated due to sanctions against the program
Disputed records: Michigan-(25-9)(11-5); Minnesota-(20-15)(6-10)

The 1997–98 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team represented the University of Illinois.

Regular season

During the 1997-98 season, head coach Lon Kruger did the unthinkable as he took a team picked to finish seventh in the Big Ten and guided the Illini to a share of its first Big Ten title since 1984. On the way to the league crown, Illinois went 5-0 against Indiana, Iowa and Michigan, marking the first time in school history the Illini had gone undefeated against those teams during the course of a season. Illinois advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after earning a No. 5 seed in the West Regional. The Illini defense was the Big Ten's best as Illinois finished the year first in scoring defense, fieldgoal defense and three-point defense in conference games. Additionally, this would be the inaugural season for the Big Ten Tournament, thus reducing the number of regular season conference games by 2, from 18 to 16. Illinois received 2nd seed for the tournament.

Team

No. Player Hometown High School Class Position
00 Victor Chukwudebe Springfield, Illinois Lanphier High School So. Forward
4 Arias Davis Waycross, Georgia Ware County High School Jr. Guard
10 Jelani Boline Chicago Whitney Young High School Sr. Guard
12 Jeff Reichardt Schaumburg, Illinois Schaumburg High School So. Guard
13 Cory Bradford Memphis, Tennessee Raleigh Egypt High School Fr. Guard
21 Matt Heldman (co-captain) Libertyville, Illinois Libertyville High School Sr. Guard
23 Jerry Hester (co-captain) Peoria, Illinois Manual High School Sr. Forward
30 Luke Williams Brocton, Illinois Shiloh High School Fr. Guard
31 David Freeman Champaign, Illinois Champaign Central High School Sr. Guard
32 Jerry Gee Chicago, Illinois St. Martin de Porres High School Sr. Forward
33 Kevin Turner Chicago, Illinois Simeon High School Sr. Guard
34 Brian Johnson (captain) Des Plaines, Illinois Maine West High School Sr. Forward
35 Carvell Ammons Champaign, Illinois Centennial High School So. Forward
40 Sergio McClain Peoria, Illinois Manual High School Fr. Guard/Forward
42 Awvee Storey Chicago, Illinois Proviso West High School Fr. Guard/Forward
44 Rich Beyers Shelbyville, Illinois Shelbyville High School So. Forward

Schedule

Source[2]

Date
Time, TV
Rank# Opponent# Result Record Site (Attendance)
City, State
Regular Season
11/17/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Bradley W 69-59  1-0
Assembly Hall (13,304)
Champaign, Illinois
11/15/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Georgia Southern W 82-53  2-0
Assembly Hall (10,789)
Champaign, Illinois
11/24/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Illinois-Chicago W 71-70  3-0
Assembly Hall (10,789)
Champaign, Illinois
11/27/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Wichita State
Puerto Rico Shootout
W 70-57  4-0
Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez (1,500)
Bayamón, PR
11/28/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. #19 Louisville
Puerto Rico Shootout
L 57-58  4-1
Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez (1,500)
Bayamón, PR
11/29/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. St. John's
Puerto Rico Shootout
L 66-83  4-2
Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez (500)
Bayamón, PR
12/2/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Texas-Pan American W 88-60  5-2
Assembly Hall (10,456)
Champaign, Illinois
12/6/1997*
no, no
#NR @ St. Louis L 51-57  5-3
TWA Dome (32,429)
St. Louis, Missouri
12/8/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Maine W 88-69  6-3
Assembly Hall (10,742)
Champaign, Illinois
12/13/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. #17 Clemson W 71-61  7-3
United Center (9,282)
Chicago
12/20/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Texas W 105-80  8-3
Assembly Hall (14,746)
Champaign, Illinois
12/23/1997*
no, no
#NR vs. Missouri
Braggin' Rights
L 69-75  8-4
Scottrade Center (22,371)
St. Louis, Missouri
12/30/1997*
no, no
#NR @ #9 UCLA L 69-74  8-5
Pauley Pavilion (12,055)
Los Angeles
1/3/1998
no, no
#NR vs. Indiana W 74-72  9-5 (1-0)
Assembly Hall (16,450)
Champaign, Illinois
1/8/1998
no, no
#NR @ Iowa W 76-64  10-5 (2-0)
Carver–Hawkeye Arena (15,500)
Iowa City, Iowa
1/10/1998
no, no
#NR @ Northwestern W 59-44  11-5 (3-0)
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Illinois
1/13/1998
no, no
#NR vs. #9 Purdue L 58-68  11-6 (3-1)
Assembly Hall (14,874)
Champaign, Illinois
1/17/1998
no, no
#NR @ Michigan State L 64-68  11-7 (3-2)
Breslin Student Events Center (14,874)
East Lansing, Michigan
1/21/1998
no, no
#NR vs. Wisconsin W 62-48  12-7 (4-2)
Assembly Hall (11,281)
Champaign, Illinois
1/25/1998
no, no
#NR vs. #16 Michigan W 64-53  13-7 (5-2)
Assembly Hall (16,450)
Champaign, Illinois
1/28/1998
no, no
#24 @ Ohio State W 66-62  14-7 (6-2)
St. John Arena (9,250)
Columbus, Ohio
1/31/1998
no, no
#NR @ Penn State W 77-71  15-7 (7-2)
Bryce Jordan Center (12,977)
University Park, Pennsylvania
2/4/1998
no, no
#NR vs. Minnesota W 68-56  16-7 (8-2)
Assembly Hall (12,204)
Champaign, Illinois
2/7/1998
no, no
#NR @ Wisconsin W 53-47 ot 17-7 (9-2)
Kohl Center (16,414)
Madison, Wisconsin
2/12/1998
no, no
#NR vs. #13 Michigan State W 84-63  18-7 (10-2)
Assembly Hall (16,450)
Champaign, Illinois
2/14/1998
no, no
#NR @ #8 Purdue L 72-75  18-8 (10-3)
Mackey Arena (14,123)
West Lafayette, Indiana
2/18/1998
no, no
#23 vs. Northwestern W 69-57  19-8 (11-3)
Assembly Hall (16,450)
Champaign, Illinois
2/22/1998
no, no
#23 vs. Iowa W 79-72  20-8 (12-3)
Assembly Hall (16,450)
Champaign, Illinois
2/24/1998
no, no
#22 @ Indiana W 82-72  21-8 (13-3)
Assembly Hall (17,103)
Bloomington, Indiana
Big Ten Tournament
3/6/1998*
no, no
#22 vs. Wisconsin
Big Ten Tournament
W 66-61  22-8
United Center (21,711)
Chicago, Illinois
3/7/1998*
no, no
#22 vs. #9 Purdue
Big Ten Tournament
L 47-68  22-9
United Center (21,711)
Chicago, Illinois
NCAA Tournament
3/12/1998*
no, no
#22 vs. South Alabama
NCAA Tournament
W 64-51  23-9
ARCO Arena (14,920)
Sacramento, California
3/14/1998*
no, no
#22 vs. Maryland
NCAA Tournament
L 61-67  23-10
Arco Arena (16,402)
Sacramento, California
*Non-conference game. #Rankings from AP Poll. (#) Tournament seedings in parentheses.
All times are in Central Time.

Player stats

Player Games Played Field Goals Three Pointers Free Throws Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Points
Kevin Turner[3] 33 215 78 76 105 91 2 44 584
Jerry Hester[4] 33 186 40 74 175 49 8 28 486
Matt Heldman[5] 33 97 67 98 97 131 0 42 359
Jerry Gee[6] 33 115 0 49 175 23 29 32 279
Brian Johnson[7] 33 83 0 66 147 78 17 29 232
Sergio McClain[8] 33 42 4 28 103 54 9 40 116
Arias Davis[9] 28 31 24 3 22 10 0 6 89
Victor Chukwudebe[10] 33 25 0 10 110 1 19 13 66

NCAA basketball tournament

  • West regional
    • Illinois 64, South Alabama 51
    • Maryland 67, Illinois 61

[11]

Awards and honors

Team players drafted into the NBA

Round Pick Player NBA Club

[13]

Rankings

References