Game 16 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #16/14 Nebraska
Jan. 10, 2014
Pack the House Set for Sunday: An annual fan-favorite event, Illinois' Pack the House promotion is slated for Sunday. All fans receive free admission and parking, and the first 150 people through the door get free courtside seating. The first 2,000 people will receive paper crowns and will be encouraged at some point during the game to put them on in an attempt to break the world record for the most people wearing a paper crown at the same time. Following the game, the entire Illini team will sign autographs, the only time this will happen all season.
Illini Cranking Up Defensive Pressure: A year after breaking Big Ten records for steals and turnovers forced in conference games, Illinois is back at it again in 2013-14. The Illini have forced 57 turnovers in two Big Ten games to start the conference slate, pressuring Wisconsin into 30 miscues and No. 14 Penn State into 27. UI forced a season-high 36 turnovers against Alcorn State on Nov. 17 and has caused 20-plus turnovers in 12 of 15 games. Illinois ranks 10th nationally in steals per game (12.1) and 13th in turnover margin (+6.67 per game).
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 24.9 points off turnovers per game, a 10.1-point per game advantage over their foes. Illinois is averaging 31 points off miscues in over its last three games - including 35 against No. 14 Penn State on Thursday - and UI has scored over 20 points off turnovers nine 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 followed that with a efficient 25-point night against No. 14 Penn State on Jan. 9, making 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-10 from the charity stripe. Crawford is averaging 14.7 points per game and has scored in double digits 12 times, with the 25 points against PSU a season high. She has five 20-point games this year after entering the season with only three in her career.
Smith Dials It Up From Downtown: Junior guard Alexis Smith has caught fire from long distance lately, making 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) three-pointers over the last four games. Prior to this run, she had been 0-of-4 on treys this season and 3-of-37 in her career. Smith is averaging 11.5 points per game in the last four and is still keeping up her assist rate, with a 3.75 average over that same span.
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 7-2 mark when topping 70, with the only losses a 98-92 barn-burner against Bradley in the season-opener and an 82-76 defeat by No. 14 Penn State.
Moore An All-Around Threat: Senior Amber Moore has 50 three-pointers on the season and is averaging 3.3 per game, which ranks sixth nationally. She has 51 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 33-of-39 (.846) from the line, and shares the team lead with 6.2 rebounds per game. She also shares the team lead with 2.1 steals and is fourth with 2.3 assists per game.
Starters Carry Scoring Load: Illinois has three starters averaging double figures and two more over 9.0 ppg. With the squad averaging 74.4 points per game, the starters are scoring 84.3 percent of the points (941 out of 1,116 total 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 12 times - including five 20-point games - and Jacqui Grant has done it 11 times, with Sarah Hartwell accomplishing it seven times. Moore is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring average (17.5 ppg), Crawford is 13th (14.7) and Grant is 27th (12.6).
Scouting the Huskers
Nebraska, which reached the NCAA Sweet 16 a year ago, returns two-time All-American Jordan Hooper and two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten pick Emily Cady after losing two-time All-Big Ten second team point guard Lindsey Moore to graduation and the WNBA draft.
Hooper is averaging 20.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, ranking third and second in the Big Ten, respectively. She also stands 32nd nationally in scoring and 30th in rebounding. Sophomore guard Rachel Theriot ranks fourth in the league in assists with 5.9 per game, which also stands 25th in the nation.
The Huskers rank second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (59.4 ppg), scoring margin (+15.4), rebounding margin (+8.1), and free-throw percentage (.782). They are fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1:1) but rank ninth in three-point field-goal percentage (.326), while ranking sixth in field-goal percentage (.438) and field-goal defense (.368), while standing seventh in three-point field-goal defense (.298).
Nebraska ranks third in the nation in fewest fouls per game at 13.9 and is ninth in free-throw percentage (78.2 percent). The Huskers also rank 30th in scoring margin (+15.4) and 34th in rebounding margin (+8.1).
Series History Against Nebraska
Last Meeting With Nebraska