Game 17 Notes: Illinois at Nebraska
Jan. 15, 2013
GodBold Blows Up Against MSU: Adrienne GodBold entered Sunday's game against Michigan State averaging 16.3 points per game, but she matched that output - in the second half of the contest. GodBold poured in a career-high 28 points while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds, making four steals and swatting three blocks. She shot 11-of-19 from the field, giving her 48 points, 16 boards, nine steals and four blocks on the week. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranks second in the league with 20.5 points per game.
Road Warriors: The Illini won back-to-back Big Ten road games at Ohio State (1/6) and Northwestern (1/10) earlier this month, marking the first time since 2002-03 that Illinois had accomplished the feat. Overall, the Orange and Blue are 3-1 this season in true road games.
Penn Keeps Awards Coming: A week after she was named national player of the week by espnW and the USBWA, and Big Ten player of the week, senior forward Karisma Penn was named Big Ten player of the week on Jan. 7. She posted a career-high 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Illinois' 79-73 win at Ohio State, and added 15 and 9, respectively, in a one-point overtime defeat to No. 14 Purdue on Jan. 2. She broke the Illinois record with 16 made free throws in 17 attempts against OSU and for the week, she shot 60 percent (15-of-25) from the floor. The week before, Penn scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed a career-best 19 rebounds to key Illinois' win over No. 6 Georgia. She also blocked two shots, becoming the Illini's career blocks record-holder.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure lately, forcing 137 turnovers in its last five games (27.4 per game), and 111 in four Big Ten games (27.75 pg). The Illini lead the league with 17.0 steals per game during conference play and rank fourth in scoring margin (+4.8 ppg) in Big Ten games. Illinois leads the league and ranks 30th nationally in steals (12.1 per game) overall. The Illini recorded 24 steals, the most in a Big Ten game in school history, and forced 34 turnovers against Northwestern (1/10), caused 20 miscues at Ohio State (1/6), 34 against No. 14 Purdue (1/2), 26 against No. 6 Georgia (12/28) and 23 against Michigan State (1/13). The turnover totals by Georgia, Purdue and Northwestern were season highs by those squads at the time of each of those games.
Stealing the Spotlight: Four Illini players rank in the top 10 in steals per game in conference play, as Karisma Penn ranks third (4.3 spg), Adrienne GodBold is tied for fourth (4.0 spg), Alexis Smith is eighth (3.3 spg) and Ivory Crawford is tied for ninth (3.0 spg).
Turnaround in Progress: Illinois is 9-7 after winning just just 11 games last season and only nine games in 2010-11. Through 16 games last season, the Illini were 6-10 overall, 0-3 in the Big Ten. Illinois also started the conference season 0-7 before beating Michigan State on Jan. 26, 2012. Illinois didn't get its second Big Ten win until Feb. 2. The last time the Illini won three Big Ten games before February was in 2009-10, when they went 4-6 in December and January.
Penn Dominates Late in Games: Karisma Penn has become a dominant force late in games recently, scoring 11 of Illinois' last 18 points against No. 6 Georgia and 18 of the last 26 Illini points in the 79-73 win at Ohio State. She also scored five of Illinois' last eight points in regulation before fouling out halfway through the overtime period in the 67-66 loss to No. 14 Purdue on Jan. 2.
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: The Illini have controlled games in the paint lately, outscoring their last four foes 164-138 in the post, an average of 32.8-27.6 per game. Illinois out-paced No. 6 Georgia 32-18 and outscored No. 14 Purdue 38-28. Michigan State was the only opponent in the last five to outscore the Illini down low, holding a 40-32 advantage.
Illini Relish Underdog Role: Illinois has won two of its last four games against ranked opponents after beating AP-ranked No. 6 Georgia on Dec. 28 and Ohio State, who was No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, on Jan. 6. The two losses were a 67-66 overtime thriller to No. 14 Purdue on Jan. 2 and a 79-75 defeat by Michigan State, which was receiving votes, on Jan. 13. Illinois is 42-168 all-time against AP-ranked opponents and 29-68 at home.
RPI continues to climb: The Illini's RPI, according to the official NCAA report released this week, moved up five spots from 72 to 67 despite Illinois' loss to Michigan State on Jan. 13. That comes after the Illini made a significant RPI jump following the victory over Georgia on Dec. 28. According to RealTimeRPI.com, the Orange and Blue have faced one of the top schedules in the country, as Illinois' slate is rated No. 20 and second-best among Big Ten squads. Seven of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures of 60 or better in the NCAA report, including Nebraska, which currently sits at No. 42, up from 57 after a weekend loss at Penn State.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank third in the Big Ten and 30th nationally in scoring, averaging 72.8 points per game. Through 16 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 9.6 ppg more than last season's first 16 games scoring average of 63.2.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding and blocked shots, ranks third in steals, fourth in field-goal percentage and fifth in scoring, making her the only player in the conference to rank in the top five in all five categories. Penn also is the only player in the country to average 19.0 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game and 2.5 blocks per game. A career 13.9 ppg scorer, Penn is up to 19.2 ppg so far this year. For more on Penn's strong start to her final season, see page 5.
Moore is Better: Junior guard Amber Moore also has increased her productivity under first-year head coach Matt Bollant, averaging 13.0 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 2.8 three-point field goals per game, fourth-best in the Big Ten, and Illinois is 7-1 when she makes three or more triples in a game. Moore also ranks second in the league in free-throw percentage (.914) and minutes played (37.1 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (16th) and three-point field-goal percentage (12th, .361). For more on her strong play this season, see page 6.
GodBold Returns to Action: Senior guard Adrienne GodBold made her season debut against No. 6 Georgia on Dec. 28 after missing the first half of the season for academic reasons. In five games this year, GodBold has shown why she earned Illinois' team MVP honors last year, scoring a career-high 28 points against Michigan State, notching 20 at Northwestern, posting her first career double-double against No. 14 Purdue (20 points, 11 rebounds), scoring 14 points at Ohio State and scoring 11 points in 22 minutes in her debut against the Lady Bulldogs.
Scouting The Huskers
Nebraska is the second-straight "one-play" that Illinois will face, as the Huskers don't return the trip to Champaign this season. The Illini also only play Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State once each.
Nebraska leads the Big Ten and ranks 33rd nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, led by Lindsey Moore, who ranks 19th in the category with a 2.35:1 ratio. The Huskers only average 14.8 turnovers per game, which is third-best in the Big Ten.
The Huskers also rank highly in the league in rebounding margin, standing second at +5.5 per game. In comparison, Illinois is one of only two conference teams to have a negative rebounding margin at -4.1.
Nebraska Series History
Last Meeting with the Huskers
Last Time Out: Michigan State