Game 14 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Wisconsin
Jan. 1, 2014
Illini in Big Ten Openers: Illinois begins the 32nd season of Big Ten women's basketball action Friday night, as 1982-83 was the first year of a full conference schedule. The Illini are 12-19 all-time in Big Ten openers and 6-11 in Big Ten openers at home. Illinois also is 5-8 at State Farm Center in conference openers.
Recent Big Ten Opener History: Illinois is 1-4 in its last five Big Ten openers with the only victory coming at home over Minnesota on Dec. 30, 2010. But the Illini won four conference openers prior to that string, from the 2004-05 season to 2007-08. UI is 5-5 in its last 10 league openers.
Extensive BTN Coverage Starts Friday: The first of at least seven Big Ten Network appearances for the Illini occurs Friday, when BTN airs UI's Big Ten opener against Wisconsin. Illinois has five games on TV in the month of January and at least two in February, as the final two conference games are wild-card selections that will be determined in early February.
Illini Beat Skyhawks to Enter Holiday on High Note: Illinois started hot against UT Martin on Dec. 21 and held off a second-half rally by the Skyhawks to win, 77-62, and increase their State Farm Center winning streak to eight games. With the Illini leading 6-0, Amber Moore rained three consecutive threes and scored UI's next 11 points staking the Orange and Blue to a 12-point lead. Illinois led by nine at halftime but UT Martin cut the margin to three with a 10-4 run after intermission. Sarah Livingston hit consecutive jumpers to push the lead back to seven, and UT Martin pulled within four three separate times, including at the 12:29 mark, but the Illini used a 17-0 run over 4:18 to go ahead 73-51 and never look back.
Senior Continues to #ScoreMoore: Senior Amber Moore was recognized by the Big Ten for the second-straight week on Dec. 23, earning mention on the weekly Honor Roll thanks to her 26-point performance that led Illinois to a 15-point win over UT Martin on Dec. 21. Moore was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 16 after serving as catalyst of the come-from-behind win over Seton Hall on Dec. 9. The senior scored 22 of her 24 points in the second half, including shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. With 43 seconds remaining, Moore made the game-tying trey to cap a 25-5 Illinois run. Her 11 rebounds resulted in her second double-double of the season and third in her career. It was Moore's second player of the week honor this season.
Historic Comeback: On Dec. 9 vs. Seton Hall, the Illini came back from a 20-point deficit with 8:45 remaining in the game to defeat Seton Hall, 71-70. The Pirates also led by 12 with 3:10 remaining but went 1-for-6 from the field and committed three turnovers down the stretch. Illini junior Nia Oden grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with five seconds left. She then made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Illini the lead and Hall's Ka-Deidre Simmons' running three-pointer rattled off, sealing UI's win. The Illini had 11 steals and forced 15 turnovers in the second half, shooting 48.5 percent from the field. Illinois closed the game on a 15-2 run.
70 the Magic Number: The 70-point threshold has been a determining factor for the Illini defense this season, as Illinois is 7-0 when holding its opponent to 70 or fewer points. Both Seton Hall and Mississippi Valley State reached 70 points, but Illinois won both of those games. Illinois has been almost as predictable when it scores 70 or more points, holding a 7-1 mark when topping 70, with the only loss a 98-92 barn-burner against Bradley in the season-opener.
Moore B1G POW: Senior guard/forward Amber Moore was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time on Nov. 18 after averaging 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game in three Illini wins the previous week. She dominated against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 14, scoring 27 and pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds, scored 23 and hauled in seven boards against Valparaiso on Nov. 12, and capped the week with a 25-point performance in only 23 minutes against Alcorn State on Nov. 21.
Records Fall Against Alcorn State: Illinois broke the school record for margin of victory with its 84-point win over Alcorn State on Nov. 17, and the Lady Braves' 10-point second-half output also broke the State Farm Center mark for fewest points in a half. ASU's 15.21 field-goal percentage was the worst by an Illini opponent in school history and the Braves' seven field goals were the second-fewest by an Illini opponent.
Moore Breaks Career Treys Mark: With four treys on Nov. 12, Amber Moore broke the school record for career three-point field goals made. Moore now sits in first place with 254 career treys, surpassing Lori Bjork's 214. She also ranks sixth in Big Ten history, seven behind Iowa's Lindsey Meder (261, 1999-02). Last year, Moore broke school records for three-pointers made in a season and three-pointers attempted in a season and a career. She currently ranks sixth nationally and leads the Big Ten with 3.6 treys per game, and is hitting them at a 37.9-percent clip, above her career 35.1 percentage heading into this season.
Moore An All-Around Threat: Senior Amber Moore has 47 three-pointers on the season, 57.3 percent of the Illini's total treys, and no other player has more than 10 triples this season. But Moore isn't just a long-range gunner. She also has the second-most free throws on the team, making 31-of-35 (.886) from the line, and leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per game. She also shares the team lead with 1.9 steals and is fourth with 1.8 assists per game.
Starters Carry Scoring Load: Illinois has three starters averaging double figures and two more over 8.0 ppg. With the squad averaging 75.1 points per game, the starters are scoring 83.1 percent of the points.
Fearsome Foursome Leads the Way: Amber Moore has registered double figures in each of the Illini's first 13 games and has six 20-point efforts. Jacqui Grant and Ivory Crawford have posted double figures 10 times apiece and Sarah Hartwell seven. Moore is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring average (18.8 ppg), Crawford is tied for 20th (13.5) and Grant is 25th (12.8).
Crawford Producing Consistently: While she may be overshadowed by Amber Moore's blisteringly hot start to the season, Ivory Crawford has been a consistent presence for the Illini. After a 23-point outburst at No. 19 Georgia on Dec. 28, the junior guard is averaging 13.5 points per game and has scored in double digits 10 times, with a season high of 24 against Bradley on Nov. 8. She also is averaging 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 28.1 minutes per game.
Grant Will Not Surrender: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant has started her Illini career on a strong note, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over the first 13 games, including double-doubles against Georgia Tech and Bradley. The Park Ridge, Ill., native scored 12 points and pulled down 14 boards, including 10 offensive rebounds, in 27 minutes against the Braves. Her 10 offensive boards are tied for fourth-most in a game in school history. She had 14 points and 11 rebounds at Georgia Tech and went for 20 points (including 15 in the first half) and seven boards at No. 11 Colorado. Grant is replacing Karisma Penn in the middle, who finished second in school history with 42 career double-doubles and had 14 last season.
Scouting the Badgers
Wisconsin is 2-3 in road games, but the two wins were at Marquette and Milwaukee, both of which are 79 miles from UW's Madison campus. While Champaign isn't a long trip from Wisconsin, the Badgers are 0-3 in road games outside their home state.
The Badgers rank 11th in scoring offense in the Big Ten at 67.4 ppg and are sixth in scoring defense (63.6 ppg), giving them a league-worst scoring margin (+3.8 ppg). They are 10th in field-goal percentage (.414) and 10th in field-goal percentage defense (.387). They rank eighth in rebounding margin (+0.4), are 10th in turnover margin (-2.1) and 12th each in assists (11.7 pg) and steals (3.9 pg).
Junior Michala Johnson - who sat out 2012-13 after transferring from Connecticut - leads UW in scoring at 15.8 ppg, which ranks seventh in the Big Ten, and she also is seventh in the league in rebounding at 8.2 rpg. Senior guard Taylor Wurtz, who sat out last season with a back injury, is averaging 14.5 ppg and is second on the team with 7.3 rebounds per game. Guard Morgan Paige also is in double figures, averaging 12.7 ppg.
Wisconsin has shown admirable discipline so far in 2013-14, ranking sixth in the nation in fewest fouls per game with 14.2, while also standing 18th in fewest turnovers per game (12.8).
Series History Against Wisconsin
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