Women's Basketball
Game 15 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #14/15 Penn State

 
Alexis Smith had a season-high 15 points, including a career-best three three-pointers against Wisconsin on Jan. 3
Alexis Smith had a season-high 15 points, including a career-best three three-pointers against Wisconsin on Jan. 3
 

Jan. 7, 2014

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 Game 15: Illinois (7-7, 0-1 B1G) vs. #14/15 Penn State (10-3, 1-0 B1G)
 When Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 | 8 p.m. CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center (16,618) 
 Tickets $5 General Admission | U of I students -- Free
 Television Big Ten Network (Cory Provus, play-by-play & LaChina Robinson, analyst)
 Watch Online BTN2Go
 Listen WDWS AM-1400 Champaign | WDAN AM-1490 Danville
Listen (All-Access)
 Live Stats Gametracker | Mobile Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois
 2013-14 Stats Illinois | Penn State | Big Ten
 Preview Interviews Coach Bollant | Smith
 Social Media @IlliniWBB   |  #Illini   |  Facebook  | YouTube

 Illinois Probable Starters
Pos. No. Name Ht. Yr. PPG RPG Note
G 0 Sarah Hartwell 5-10 r-So. 9.8 2.6 14th in B1G in assists per game (3.4)
G 22 Ivory Crawford 5-10 Jr. 13.9 5.3 Averaging 21.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg over last 2 games
G 23 Alexis Smith 5-9 Jr. 8.9 3.0 2nd on team in assists per game (3.3)
G/F 42 Amber Moore 5-11 Sr. 17.9 6.3 6th in NCAA in 3FG/game as of 1/6 (3.4)
F 34 Jacqui Grant 6-3 Fr. 12.4 6.2 Tied for 3rd in the B1G in steals (2.0 spg)

Illinois is...
...looking to snap a two-game skid
...6-1 at State Farm Center this season
...7-3 when committing 18 or fewer turnovers
...7-1 when shooting 39 percent or better
...6-2 when shooting 30 percent or better from 3-point range
...6-1 when Amber Moore makes 4+ three-pointers
...6-1 when Ivory Crawford has a positive assist-to-turnover margin
...leading the Big Ten in steals (11.9 pg) & turnover margin (+6.3)
...ranked 13th in the country (as of Jan. 5) in steals (11.9 spg) & 17th in turnover margin (+6.29)

Quick Hits
• Thursday's Game:
Illinois (7-7, 0-1) hosts No. 14/15 Penn State (10-3, 1-0) on Thursday night, looking for its first Big Ten victory. The Illini dropped a 76-64 overtime decision to Wisconsin on Friday, then had their Monday game at Northwestern postponed because of severe weather. Penn State earned a 16-point win at Iowa on Sunday, 87-71, in its conference opener. The game is the first of two straight for the Illini against top-20 foes as Illinois hosts No. 16/14 Nebraska on Sunday.

• Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 24.1 points off 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 and is averaging 3.43 per game, which ranks sixth nationally. She has 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 17th (13.9) and Grant is 27th (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 Lady Lions
• No. 14/15 Penn State is 10-3 on the season and 1-0 in the Big Ten after beating Iowa 87-71 in Iowa City on Sunday. The Lady Lions have been ranked in the top 20 of both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls all year.

• Penn State is 2-1 in true road games this season, with wins over Iowa and Georgetown, and a loss to South Dakota State. The Lady Lions also beat Oregon State and Illinois State in the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving.

• Senior Maggie Lucas leads PSU, averaging 21.1 points per game. She also is shooting an NCAA-best 97.4 percent from the free-throw line and Penn State ranks third nationally in free-throw percentage. The Lions also rank 11th nationally in blocked shots per game at 5.8.

• PSU ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring offense (77.2 ppg) but is ninth in scoring defense (65.3 ppg). The Lions are ninth in field-goal percentage (.421) but second in field-goal defense (.346). Penn State is shooting a league-worst .273 from the arc and has the ninth-best three-point defense (.302), but counters that with the second-most blocked shots (5.8 per game) and fourth-best rebounding margin (+6.2) in the conference. PSU also ranks third in steals (9.3 pg), first in offensive rebounds (14.7 pg) and second in defensive rebounds (31.1 pg).

Series History Against Penn State
Penn State leads the all-time series with the Illini 29-14 but Illinois actually holds a 10-9 margin in games played in Champaign. PSU has won three of the last four meetings at State Farm Center, with the Illini's lone win during that stretch a 69-60 victory in 2009. Illinois won five straight home games against PSU from 1997-2002.

HEADLINES