The Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs after playing in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. Illinois won the 2012 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational crown after defeating the Butler Bulldogs, 78-61.
This was the first time Illinois has won the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational in four appearances (2012, 2007, 2000, and 1987).
Gardner-Webb is a member of the Big South Conference and finished tenth in the conference last year. Their overall record last season was 12-20.
So far this season, Gardner-Webb’s top two scorers are sophomores Max Landis and Donta Harper. Landis leads the team with 13.6 points per game and scored 16 points in Gardner-Webb’s win over Austin Prey. Harper is second on the team with 13.3 points per game, but he can do more than just score for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
Harper is also the team’s leading rebounder and is averaging 6.7 rebounds per game. In the team’s last game, he recorded a season-high 21 points and eight rebounds as the Runnin’ Bulldogs won.
Gradner-Webb can also get production on the boards from senior Kevin Hartley. Hartley is second on the team with 6.6 rebounds per game.
According to gwusports.com, “Gardner-Webb will be without starting center Mike Byron (6-10, 245, JR.) for the sixth consecutive game on Sunday.”
The biggest thing to watch for in this game is whether or not the Fighting Illini can make their 3-pointers like they have been in recent games. Through their first six games, they have shot a total of 69 3-pointers (leads the nation). They are averaging 11.5 made 3-pointers per game and have a 3-point percentage of 41.1%.
Th Fighting Illini should have no problems with the Runnin’ Bulldogs, but will need big performances from Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. However, an upset loss is highly unlikely for the Illini.
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