Iowa native Lori Bjork hit four threes on Thursday at Ohio State.
Jan. 20, 2008
On The Air
TV: Big Ten Network - DirecTV Ch. 220 and Dish Network Ch. 439 (Mark Neely and Mary Murphy)
Radio: Live on WDWS AM-1400 and WDAN AM-1490 (Dave Loane and Mike Koon)
Streaming Audio: Live on fightingillini.com (requires Illini All-Access subscription)
Iowa leads 41-16 overall and 16-10 in Champaign
Last Season: Illinois won 1-0 - 74-69 in Iowa City on 2/15/07
Illinois: Jolette Law, 11-6 overall and at Illinois (first season)
Iowa: Lisa Bluder, 493-236 overall (24th season) and 137-94 at Iowa (eighth season)
The Game: Illinois (11-6, 3-3) hosts the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-7, 3-3) in a rare Monday night game (7 p.m.) looking to bounce back from another heart-breaking road loss. The Illini led #16 Ohio State most of the way, but fell victim to a pair of late three's by the Buckeyes to drop into a seventh place tie in the Big Ten with the Hawkeyes. Iowa will be on eight days rest after topping Wisconsin in overtime, 78-74, on Jan. 13 in Iowa City.
TV Time: Monday's game against Iowa will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network (HD) with Mark Neely and Mary Murphy calling the action. It will be the third of at least seven Illini games on the network this season. The Illini's next game on the network will be on Monday, Feb. 4, at Michigan.
Law to Face Alma Mater: Illini head coach Jolette Law graduated from the University of Iowa in 1990 with a degree in sports studies/corporate fitness. As the Hawkeyes' floor general, she helped Iowa to four consecutive Big Ten titles and a record of 105-18 from 1987-90, including 46-straight home wins. She still ranks 17th in career scoring (1,137), sixth in steals (205) and sixth in assists (353) for Iowa. She was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection (1989 &1990) playing for former Hawkeye coach and long-time mentor C. Vivian Stringer.
Streakin' Jenna: Sophomore Jenna Smith currently has the longest streak of double-digit scoring games in the Big Ten, with 19 (2 from last year). Ohio State's Jantel Lavender is second, with 17 straight games.
Double-Trouble: Jenna Smith has recorded double-doubles in eight of 17 games this season, which is the second most in the Big Ten behind Ohio State freshman Jantel Lavender (9). Smith, only a sophomore, has 14 double-dips in her career, which is third in the Big Ten behind only Wisconsin senior Jolene Anderson's 21 and Indiana junior Whitney Thomas' 16. Illinois is 7-1 in games when Smith records a double-double this season and is 3-5 when she hasn't.
Close Calls: The loss to Ohio State was the third straight on the road for the Illini, and all have been down to the wire. Illinois thought it had a last-second win at Penn State on Jan. 2, but was called for a charge on Rebecca Harris' would-be game-winning shot as time expired. Then four days later the Illini led by five at Indiana with less than five minutes to play before falling 70-62, and Thursday the game again came down to the final possession, with the Buckeyes prevailing 43-42.
Takin' the Freebies: Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation (Jan. 17 NCAA stats) in free throw percentage, knocking down 80.1 percent from the charity stripe.
Alone at #2: Junior Lori Bjork nailed four threes at Ohio State on Thursday, giving her 172 for her career and moving her into sole possession of second place in the UI career three-point field goals list. She had been tied for second place for two games before breaking out against the Buckeyes. She is within reach of Krista Reinking's school record total of 194 this season.
Illini Trends: This year the Fighting Illini are...
...11-2 when allowing less than 60 points
...8-1 when shooting more FTs than their opponent
...7-1 when Jenna Smith has a double-double
...6-1 When Chelsea Gordon scores in double figures
...10-2 when scoring at least 60 points
Up Next: Monday night's game against the kicks-off a rare three-game week for the Orange and Blue. Illinois will host Michigan State on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. before heading to Purdue on Sunday, Jan. 27 for a 2 p.m. ET/1 CT tip.
Leading the Way
Jenna Smith leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.563) and ranks second in the league in five other categories - scoring (18.3), rebounding (9.8), offensive rebounds (3.00), defensive rebounds (6.82) and minutes (36.88). Lori Bjork leads the conference in FT percentage (.927). As a team, Illinois paces the league in scoring defenese (55.8), FT percentage (.801) and rebounding defense (30.5), and ranks second in three other categories for all games.
In Big Ten games only, Illinois leads the league in scoring defense (52.8), FT percentage (.789), FG percentage defense (.352), blocked shots (5.83) and assist/TO ratio (0.96).
Parity has been the norm in the Big Ten Conference thus far. If Illinois had held on to beat Ohio State on Thursday, it would have been in a five-way tie for first place at 4-2. Instead, the Illini fell into a tie for sixth with Penn St. and Iowa at 3-3 heading into the weekend. What a difference a point can make.
Breaking Down The Hawkeyes
Iowa enters Monday's match-up at 10-7 overall and 3-3 in league play, and will be coming off an eight-day lay-off after a thrilling 78-74 overtime win over Wisconsin on Jan. 13. The Hawkeyes are 2-3 on the road this season and 1-2 away from home in Big Ten play.
Junior guard Kristi Smith (12.5 ppg, 3.4 apg) and junior forward Wendy Ausdemore (10.6 ppg, .429 3FG%) lead a balanced Hawkeye attack. Junior center Megan Skouby, the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, has struggled a bit this season, but still chips in 8.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Iowa leads the conference in field goal percentage defense (.373), while Ausdemore is tied for the conference lead in three-point field goal percentage (.429) and is second in threes made per game (2.29). Last season, Ausdemore torched the Illini for 29 points in the teams only meeting, a 74-69 Illini victory.
The Illinois-Iowa Series
Iowa leads the all-time series 41-16 overall and 16-10 in Champaign. The Hawkeyes have won three straight at Assembly Hall, with the last Illini win on its home floor coming on Feb. 9, 2003, by a count of 73-58. Illinois broke a six-game overall skid against the Hawks' with a 74-69 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last season.
Last Year Against the Hawkeyes
Illinois trailed for most of the game, but came up big down the stretch to pull out a 74-69 road victory at Iowa on Feb. 15, 2007. Iowa native Lori Bjork led Illinois with 20 points and hit four three-pointers to equal Krista Reinking's single-season UI record for 3FG made. Danyel Crutcher and Jenna Smith both had double-doubles and Lacey Simpson had another huge all-around game as Illinois moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Big Ten. Bjork's record-tying three gave Illinois the lead for good with 1:19 to go and then Simpson and Smith had big buckets in the final minute to seal the deal. The win snapped a six-game losing streak to Iowa.
Smith Enjoying Sophomore Surge
Illini forward Jenna Smith has taken off in her sophomore season. She one of the front runners for Big Ten Player of the Year and has already been named tournament MVP honors at the FIU Thanksgiving Classic and Big Ten Player of the Week three times this season. For the year, she is averaging 18.3 points and 9.8 rebounds, and is shooting 56 percent from the field. She has led the Illini in scoring and rebounding 11 times each this season.
Raking in the Honors: Smith is the first Illini in over 20 years to pick-up three player of the week honors in the same season. Jonelle Polk was honored four times in the 1985-86 season, which is the most for an Illini in a single season. Polk and Ashley Berggren share the career mark for Illinois, with five each.
Smith Holds Her Own vs. NPOY: Smith faced her toughest competition to date when last year's AP National Player of the Year Courtney Paris came to Assembly Hall Dec. 5. Smith more than held her own against the Sooner star, hitting 7-of-9 from the field for 15 points, pulling down eight rebounds and blocking two shots. Paris had her usual big numbers with 22 points and 14 rebounds, but Smith served notice that she will be a force to be reckoned with for the next few years.
Career Day: Smith scored a career-high 32 points and had 10 boards against SIU on Nov. 18. She hit 13-of-19 from the field and scored 11 straight points for the Illini at one point in the second half.
The Race To 1,000
Two Fighting Illini are approaching the 1,000-point club this year. Junior Lori Bjork is the closest with 912 career points, while senior Danyel Crutcher is closing in fast on the milestone with 869 points. Bjork recently became the 23rd player in school history to crack the 900-point barrier. In its 34-year history, Illinois has produced 20 1,000 point scorers.
Toeing the Line
Illinois leads the league and ranks fourth in the nation in FT percentage (.801), having knocked down 234-of-292 from the charity stripe. Illinois has shot 33 more FTs than its opponents have shot on the season (292-259). For the year, Lori Bjork leads the way from the line, shooting a Big Ten best 92.7 percent (38-of-41), which would rank fourth in the nation if she weren't just shy of the NCAA minimum of 2.5 made FTs per game.
Bec Blows Up
Senior guard Rebecca Harris had a career-game in the win over Minnesota on Jan 10. Harris hit 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the arc to finish with a career-high 23 points and a career-high-tying six rebounds in a career-high 37 minutes.
Pressure `D' Catching On
Jolette Law's pressure defense looks to be catching on fast with the Fighting Illini. Through the first 17 games Illinois is averaging 7.82 steals per game, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten, and is scoring 16.5 points per game off of turnovers. Sophomore Lacey Simpson leads the way, as she ranks second in the conference in steals with 2.82 thefts per game. Last year, Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten in steals at 5.55 per game.
Looking for the Right Combo
Senior Rebecca Harris replaced Lacey Simpson in the starting line-up against Indiana after Simpson missed practice time with an ankle injury and remained in the line-up against Minnesota. It was the fourth different starting combination Law has used this season.
Illinois record by starting line-up:
Illini in the NCAA Rankings
In the Jan. 17 NCAA statistical rankings, Illinois ranked in the top-30 in the nation in four different categories, and Illini individuals rank in the top-100 in eight different categories.
Team Category Rank Stat Free Throw Percentage 4 80.1 Personal Fouls 12 13.8 Scoring Defense 28 55.6 Blocked Shots 30 4.8Join the Illini and "Think Pink" on Feb. 10!
Indiv. Category Player Rank Stat FG Percentage Jenna Smith 24 56.3 Scoring Jenna Smith 24 18.3 Rebounding Jenna Smith 24 9.8 Blocks Jenna Smith 40 2.1 Steals Lacey Simpson 40 2.8 FT Percentage Jenna Smith 59 83.5 Assist/TO Ration Lacey Simpson 98 1.54 3FG percentage Lori Bjork 100 35.0