Game 18 Notes: Illinois vs. Northwestern
Jan. 18, 2013
Road Warriors: The Illini have won three straight Big Ten road games (Ohio State, 1/6; Northwestern, 1/10; Nebraska, 1/17), marking the first time since 2001 that Illinois has accomplished the feat. It also has been four years since the Illini have won three Big Ten road games in an entire conference season. Overall, the Orange and Blue are 4-1 this season in true road games.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure lately, forcing 163 turnovers in its last six games (27.2 per game), and 137 in five Big Ten games (27.4 pg). The Illini lead the league with 16.8 steals per game during conference play, and Illinois leads the league and ranks 21st nationally in steals (12.3 per game) overall. The Illini recorded 24 steals, the most in a Big Ten game in school history, and forced 34 turnovers against Northwestern on Jan 10. For more on Illinois' recent success in turning opponents over, see page 5.
Stealing the Spotlight: Four Illini players rank in the top 10 in steals per game in conference play, as Karisma Penn ranks fourth (4.0 spg), Adrienne GodBold is fifth (3.6 spg), Ivory Crawford is sixth (3.2 spg) and Alexis Smith is ninth (2.8 spg).
Turnaround in Progress: Illinois is 10-7 after winning just just 11 games last season and only nine games in 2010-11. Through 17 games last season, the Illini were 6-11 overall, 0-4 in the Big Ten. Illinois also started the conference season 0-7 before beating Michigan State on Jan. 26, 2012. The Illini didn't get their third Big Ten win until Feb. 9 and finished 5-11 in conference play. 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.
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 20.2 points per game.
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. At Nebraska on Jan. 17, Penn grabbed five of Illinois' last six rebounds over the last 7:07 of the game, equaling the Huskers' rebounding total over that span.
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: The Illini have controlled games in the paint lately, outscoring their last six foes 186-159 in the post, an average of 31.0-26.5 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 six to outscore the Illini down low, holding a 40-32 advantage.
Illini Relish Underdog Role: Illinois has won two of its last three 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 loss was a 67-66 overtime thriller to No. 14 Purdue on Jan. 2. 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 WarrenNolan.com, moved up to No. 55 from No. 67 after Illinois' win at Nebraska on Jan. 17. According to WarrenNolan.com, the Orange and Blue have faced one of the top schedules in the country, as Illinois' slate is rated No. 14 and best among Big Ten squads. Seven of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures of 60 or better.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank third in the Big Ten and 34th nationally in scoring, averaging 72.2 points per game. Through 17 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 8.8 ppg more than last season's first 17 games scoring average of 63.4.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding and blocked shots, is tied for third in steals, tied for fourth in scoring and ranks fifth in field-goal percentage, 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 18.0 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game and 2.5 blocks per game. A career 13.9 ppg scorer, Penn is up to 18.8 ppg so far this year.
Moore is Better: Junior guard Amber Moore also has increased her productivity under first-year head coach Matt Bollant, averaging 12.8 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 2.6 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 (.923) and minutes played (36.7 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (17th) and three-point field-goal percentage (13th, .349).
Scouting The Wildcats
The Wildcats began the season with six straight wins but have struggled since then, losing four straight and nine of their last 11 games.
Northwestern is ranked 121 in the latest RPI rankings and has a schedule strength of 70 according to RealTimeRPI.com. Northwestern has two top-100 RPI wins, beating then-No. 51 Central Michigan on Nov. 11 and then-No. 81 Boston College on Nov. 28.
The Wildcats rank eighth in the Big Ten in scoring offense, 11th in scoring defense and 11th in scoring margin. They lead the league in blocked shots (5.9 bpg) and rank fifth in field-goal percentage defense (.359), but rank 11th in turnover margin (-2.3 per game) and 12th in three-point shooting (.290) and three-point defense (.322).
Senior Dannielle Diamant ranks fifth in the league in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and is seventh in blocked shots (1.4 bpg). Sophomore Karly Roser stands second in assists (6.3 apg) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3:1), but committed 15 turnovers compared to four assists against the Illini on Jan. 10.
Northwestern senior forward Kendall Hackney leads the way in scoring, averaging 14.8 ppg, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten. She also ranks 11th in three-point field-goal percentage (.358) and 16th in rebounding (6.3 rpg).
Northwestern Series History
Last Meeting with the Wildcats
Last Time Out: Nebraska
Senior guard Adrienne GodBold led all scorers, putting in 19 points in only 25 minutes while adding seven rebounds. Senior forward Karisma Penn contributed 12 points and 18 rebounds, including a career-high 10 offensive boards, for her ninth double-double of the season and 37th of her career. Sophomore guard Ivory Crawford added 15 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Illini.