Women's Basketball
Game 16 WBB Notes: Illinois (11-4, 3-2) at #5/5 Ohio State (17-1, 5-0)

Illinois and Ohio State will battle in Columbus Thursday night.
Illinois and Ohio State will battle in Columbus Thursday night.

Jan. 13, 2010

Complete Game 16 Notes: Illinois at Ohio State Get Acrobat Reader

Game 16 - Illinois (11-4, 3-2) at No. 5/5 Ohio State (17-1, 5-0)

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 // 7 p.m. ET / 6 CT // Value City Arena (19,049) // Columbus, Ohio

On The Air
Streaming Video: video.bigtennetwork.com ($2.99)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM-1400 and WDAN AM-1490 (Dave Loane and Mike Koon)
Livestats: fightingillini.com and OhioStateBuckeyes.com

The Series
Ohio State leads 40-17 overall and 21-4 in Columbus
Last meeting: No. 6/6 Ohio State 76, Illinois 47 on Dec. 28, 2009 in Champaign

The Coaches
Illinois: Jolette Law, 41-40 overall and at Illinois (3rd season)
Ohio State: Jim Foster, 702-273 overall (33rd season) and 198-48 at Ohio State (8th season)

Quick Hits
• The Game: The Fighting Illini (11-4, 3-2 Big Ten) head to Columbus to face fifth-ranked Ohio State (17-1, 5-0) Thursday night in the first of two conference road games this week. Illinois is coming off a last-second 64-62 win over Minnesota on Sunday to move into a second place tie in the Big Ten standings. The Buckeyes topped No. 19 Michigan State Saturday on the road, 65-62.

• Cardiac Kids: Illinois' last three games have all come down to the wire. The Illini topped Wisconsin, 53-52, on Jan. 3 on a buzzer-beating lay-up by Karisma Penn as time expired. Then on Jan. 7 at Indiana Fabiola Josil's three-pointer rattled in-and-out at the buzzer in the 50-48 loss to the Hoosiers. Finally, in Sunday's 64-62 win over Minnesota Adrienne GodBold's three-point play with 10.3 seconds left gave the Illini the lead before Minnesota missed a three at the buzzer.

• Smith Snares 1,000th Board: Senior Jenna Smith grabbed her 1,000th career rebound with 12:50 remaining in Sunday's win over Minnesota, becoming the 11th player in Big Ten history to reach the 1,000-rebound milestone. • Queen of the Boards: With 1,001 career rebounds heading into Thursday's game, Smith needs 13 rebounds to tie, and 14 to break Cindy Dallas' school record of 1,014 career boards.

• Rare Company: Smith is tied for the NCAA lead with 11 double-doubles this season (through Jan. 10). She also ranks in the top-15 nationally in both scoring (12th) and rebounding (10th), making her one of only two Division I players to rank in the top-15 in both categories.

• Jenna's Going Streaking: Smith has scored in double-figures in a school-record 54 consecutive games, the third-longest current streak in the nation.

• Simpson Nearing 1,000: Senior Lacey Simpson needs 16 points to become the 23rd player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000 career point milestone.

• Stealing the Spotlight: Simpson leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally in steals at 3.60 per game. During conference play she has been even better, averaging a league-best 5.20 thefts per game.

• New and Improved: With 11 wins this season, the Illini have already surpassed their win total from last season. Last year, Illinois finished the season 10-21.

• Block Party in the USA: Led by the frontcourt trio of Jenna Smith (1.9 bpg), Karisma Penn (1.9 bpg) and Lacey Simpson (1.7 bpg), Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in blocked shots at 6.5 per game. Smith is already the school's career blocks leader with 190 and Simpson ranks third with 144, while Penn is on pace to shatter the UI freshman blocks record of 39 that Smith and Simpson currently share. The Illini have swatted away 98 shots on the season compared to just 30 for their opponents

• Getting Defensive: Coach Jolette Law teaches her teams to take pride in defense and this year's Illini look to be buying into that philosophy. In addition to ranking seventh in the nation in blocks, the Illini are holding opponents to 34.4 percent shooting from the field, which ranks second in the Big Ten and 14th nationally.

Comeback Kids
The Fighting Illini have won three game this season after trailing by 15 or more points in the second half. Most recently, Illinois came from 15 down early in the second half to beat Minnesota, 64-62, on Jan. 10. Earlier in the season, the Illini trailed by 15 with 15:25 left against Alabama before winning 64-55 and also overcame a 17-point deficit with 18:27 remaining at Wake Forest before charging back to win by 15. See the details on Illinois' impressive comeback wins:

Game           SH Deficit   Time    Closing Run   Final
vs Alabama        15        15:25      30-6       64-55
at Wake Forest    17        18:32      46-14      65-50
vs Minnesota      15        18:27      38-21      64-62
Scouting the Buckeyes
No. 5 Ohio State (17-1, 5-0 Big Ten) is the only remaining unbeaten in conference play, as all other Big Ten teams have at least two conference losses so far. The five-time defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes are coming off of a big 65-62 win at No. 21 Michigan State on Saturday, where sophomore point guard Samantha Prahalis had 32 points and junior center Jantel Lavender had 20 points and 13 rebounds. For the season, three-time Big Ten Player of the Year Lavender is averaging 22.0 points and 10.2 rebounds, while Prahalis averages 15.1 points and 8.1 assists and is the current Big Ten Player of the Week. Junior guard Brittany Johnson leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the NCAA in three-point shooting at 51 percent (36-of-71). Ohio State is 13-0 at home this season, with its only loss coming at No. 11 Duke on Dec. 3.

• The Illinois-Ohio State Series: Ohio State owns a 40-17 advantage in the all-time series, including a 76-47 win in Champaign on Dec. 28 this season. The Buckeyes own a 21-4 record against the Illini in Columbus, as Illinois hasn't won at Ohio State since Jan. 9, 2001.

• Illini From Ohio: Four players will be returning to their home state when the Illini head to Ohio State on Thursday. Freshmen Karisma Penn (Shaker Heights) and Brianna Jones (Toledo) will both be playing their first collegiate game in their home state, and Lydia McCully (Bedford Heights) and Macie Blinn (Greenville) will be making their second appearance in Ohio.

Watch Out for Jenna
• 20-10 Club: Senior All-America candidate Jenna Smith is one of just three players nationally to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. With averages of 20.5 ppg and 11.4 rpg, Smith joins Middle Tennessee State's Alysha Clark (23.8 ppg and 11.6 rpg) and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender (22.0 ppg and 10.2 rpg) in the 20-10 club.

• Smith in Another Elite Club: With 1,852 career points and 1,001 career rebounds, Smith is just the sixth player in Big Ten history to reach both the 1,800-point and 1,000-rebound milestones. Only Laura Coenen (Minnesota), Jessica Davenport (Ohio State), Tracey Hall (Ohio State), Denise Jackson (Indiana) and Janel McCarville (Minnesota) have accomplished the feat since the official inception of Big Ten women's basketball in 1982-83.

• Double Trouble: Smith continues to rack-up double-doubles night-in and night-out for the Orange and Blue. Her 11 double-doubles in 15 games this season are tied for the most in the nation, while her 43 career double-doubles make her the program's all-time leader, surpassing Jonelle Polk's old record of 40.

• Record Breaker: Smith has 1,852 career points to rank fourth on the UI career scoring list. She is 55 points from passing Lisa Robinson's third-place total of 1,906 and is 238 points shy of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois career scoring record of 2,089 points. With a minimum of 14 games left, Smith needs to average 17.0 points per game the rest of the way to become the school's all-time scoring leader.

Smith already has the UI career blocked shots record (190) and the career double-doubles mark (43) and has a good chance to finish atop several more categories before her career comes to a close. Take a look at Illinois records Smith has a chance to break this season:

Smith in the Illini Record Book
Stat            Total  Rank    Record  Needs 
Blocks           190    1       190      -
Double-Doubles    43    1        43      -
Rebounds        1,001   2      1,014     14
Points          1,852   4      2,089    238
FG Made          702    4       815     114
• Miss Consistency: Smith has extended her school-record streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 54 this season. That streak is the third-longest current streak in the nation behind only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender (84) and Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley (74). The streak started on Feb. 28, 2008, during her sophomore season and continued through all of last season. In all, Smith has scored in double-figures in 82 of the last 83 games, with only a six-point outing against Michigan on Feb. 24, 2008, getting in the way of a 83-game streak.
Current Consecutive Games of 10+ points 
(through games of Jan. 12)
Rk Player, School               Streak
1. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State    84
2. Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State   74
3. Jenna Smith, Illinois          54
4. Dawn Evans, James Madison      46
5. Chastity Reed, Arkansas-LR     39
• Toe-ing the Line: One of the most overlooked parts of Smith's game has been her free throw shooting. With two made free throws against Wisconsin on Jan. 3, Smith moved into second place on the Illinois career free throws made list. She is now 422-for-531 (.795) for her career. Ashley Berggren is Illinois' all-time leader with 562 makes. Smith currently sits in sixth place on the UI all-time FT percentage list with her 79.5 clip.

• National Radar: Senior center Jenna Smith, a former All-American and two-time first team All-Big Ten honoree, was named to four preseason national award watch lists heading into this season. Smith is a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy, which all go to the Division I player of the Year. She is also up for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the student-athlete on and off the court.

• Big Ten Leader: With 1,852 career points and 1,001 career rebounds, Smith is the Big Ten Conference's active leader in both stat categories.

Simpson Steals the Show
• Simpson Does It All: Senior Lacey Simpson is widely known for her defense and versatility. This year, however, she has diversified her game even more. Playing more at her natural wing position, she's taking her habit of filling the stat sheet to another level as she's averaging 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, a team-high 4.1 assists and Big Ten-leading 3.6 steals per game, all while usually guarding the top offensive player from the opposing team. She ranks in the top-10 in the conference in seven categories (steals, assists, assist-TO ratio, defensive rebounds, 3FG percentage, overall FG percentage and blocks).

• Outside Improvement: Known primarily for her defense, Simpson worked hard on her offensive game in the offseason, particularly her outside shot. That work has paid off thus far, as she's shooting 50 percent from the field (62-of-124) and 45 percent from downtown (18-of-40). Simpson made just eight threes all of last season and shot 39 percent overall and 22 percent from behind the arc.

• Stop, Thief!: Simpson led the Big Ten and ranked ninth in the nation in steals last season and she's on pace to do even better this year. So far in 2009-10 she is averaging 3.60 steals per game to once again pace the Big Ten and rank in the top-10 nationally. Simpson is already the school's all-time leader in steals with 309 and she is approaching the all-time Big Ten top-10 list. Her season total of 97 steals in 2008-09 ranks No. 2 on the UI single-season list and her nine steals vs. IPFW on 11/14/08 set a new career-high and equaled the second most in a game in school history.

• College Grad: Simpson, a fifth-year senior, earned her bachelor's degree in sport management last May and is currently pursuing a master's degree in human resource education as she completes her final year of athletic eligibility.

Fresh Impact
This year's highly-touted freshman class was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation coming out of high school. The frosh have lived up to their billing so far, as they've combined to average 20.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for the Orange and Blue, even without Amber Moore (ACL injury) making an impact.

Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold have made the biggest impact thus far. Penn, a 6-2 forward, is averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game and has already picked-up three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards, most recently on Jan. 4 after hitting the game-winning lay-up to top Wisconsin at the buzzer. She had her first career double-double on Dec. 31 against Penn State with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and scored a career-high 21 points in the Nov. 22 win over Bradley.

Godbold, meanwhile, is a 5-11 guard averaging 6.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. She had a game-winning three point play with 10 seconds left in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 10. Earlier in the season, she scored a career-high 15 points and had three steals in the Illini's win over Oakland on Dec. 19 and recently she had a solid game at Indiana with 11 points and five boards. She has also been key defensively for the Orange and Blue.