Game 15 Notes & Links: Illinois at Northwestern
Jan. 4, 2014
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 24.1 points of turnovers per game, an 8.9-point per game advantage over their foes. Illinois has posted 29 points off miscues in each of its last two games and UI has scored over 20 points off turnovers eight times this season.
Crawford Takes Center Stage: After serving as Illinois' second scoring threat through much of the non-conference slate, junior Ivory Crawford has asserted herself more on the offensive end of late. Crawford posted a game-high 23 points at No. 19 Georgia on Dec. 28 and scored 20 against Wisconsin on Jan. 3, the first back-to-back 20-point games in her career. She is averaging 13.9 points per game and has scored in double digits 11 times, with a season high of 24 against Bradley on Nov. 8. She also is averaging 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 steals in 29.1 minutes per game.
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.
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 An All-Around Threat: Senior Amber Moore has 48 three-pointers on the season, 54.5 percent of the Illini's total treys, and no other player has more than 11 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 6.3 rebounds per game. She also shares the team lead with 2.0 steals and is fourth with 2.1 assists per game.
Starters Carry Scoring Load: Illinois has three starters averaging double figures and two more over 8.9 ppg. With the squad averaging 74.3 points per game, the starters are scoring 83.9 percent of the points.
Fearsome Foursome Leads the Way: Amber Moore registered double figures in the Illini's first 13 games and has six 20-point efforts. Ivory Crawford has posted double figures 11 times and Jacqui Grant has done it 10 times, with Sarah Hartwell accomplishing it seven times. Moore is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring average (17.9 ppg), Crawford is 16th (13.9) and Grant is 28th (12.4).
Grant Will Not Surrender: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant has started her Illini career on a strong note, averaging 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game over the first 14 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 Wildcats
Northwestern is 8-1 at home this season, having only left Welsh-Ryan Arena three times prior to the conference season. The Wildcats lost at No. 17 California and beat Loyola in Chicago. They also lost to Indiana State and beat Northeastern at the Tulane DoubleTree Classic in New Orleans on Dec. 28 and 29.
The Wildcats rank ninth in scoring offense in the Big Ten (70.4 ppg) but are third in scoring defense (60.3 ppg). They have the second-best field-goal percentage defense (.338) in the league but are eighth in three-point defense. Northwestern also is 10th in three-point percentage (.319). The Cats are 11th in rebounding margin (-5.1 rpg) but lead the Big Ten in blocked shots (7.2 bpg), rank second in steals (10.3 spg) and turnover margin (+3.8) and are third in assists (17.0 apg).
Northwestern has one of the top freshman classes in the country, led by Nia Coffey, who ranks ninth in the Big Ten in scoring (15.6 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.8 rpg). Christen Inman ranks 22nd with 13.2 ppg and Ashley Deary ranks second in the Big Ten in assists (6.6 apg) and steals (2.6 spg).
The Wildcats rank second in the nation in blocked shots per game (7.2) and are 16th in field-goal percentage defense (.338). They also share the ball well, standing 31st in assists per game (17.0).
Series History Against Northwestern
The teams split two meetings last year, with the road team winning both games. Illinois scored a 65-47 win at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Jan. 10, 2013, after forcing Northwestern into 34 turnovers and recording 24 steals, a school record for a Big Ten game. But the Wildcats returned the favor 10 days later, scoring the game's final six points in a 62-58 victory.