Game 19 Notes & Links: Illinois at Minnesota
Jan. 25, 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. That year, the Illini won their first four conference road contests, culminating with an 88-81 win at Minnesota. It also has been since 2001 that the Illini have won four or more Big Ten road games in an entire conference season, as that squad won five. 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 186 turnovers in its last seven games (26.6 per game), and 160 in six Big Ten games (26.7 pg). The Illini lead the league with 16.5 spg during conference play, and Illinois leads the league and ranks 15th nationally in steals (12.4 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 second (4.0 spg), Adrienne Godbold is tied for fourth (3.7 spg), Ivory Crawford is sixth (3.3 spg) and Alexis Smith is tied for 10th (2.5 spg).
Turnaround in Progress: Illinois is 10-8 after winning just 11 games last season and only nine games in 2010-11. Through 17 games last season, the Illini were 6-12 overall, 0-5 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 poured in a career-high 28 points against Michigan State on Jan. 13 - including 16 in the second half - on 11-of-19 shooting while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds, adding four steals and three blocks. Against Northwestern last Sunday, she scored 17 in the second half and finished with 21, including a 12-of-12 effort from the free-throw line. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranks second in the league with 20.3 points per game.
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: The Illini have controlled games in the paint lately, outscoring their last seven foes 204-179 in the post, an average of 29.1-25.5 per game. Illinois out-paced No. 6 Georgia 32-18 and outscored No. 14 Purdue 38-28. The Illini have outscored five of their last seven foes in the paint, with only Michigan State and Northwestern (Jan. 20) bucking that trend.
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 On Solid Footing: The Illini's RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com, stands at No. 69 and the Orange and Blue have faced one of the top schedules in the country, as Illinois' slate is rated No. 28. Six of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures in the top 40, while Minnesota is No. 62 and Ohio State is No. 71.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank third in the Big Ten and 36th nationally in scoring, averaging 71.4 points per game. Through 18 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 8.3 ppg more than last season's first 17 games scoring average of 63.1.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in blocked shots, ranks second in rebounding, is tied for third in steals, ranks fourth in scoring and 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 18.6 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 12.4 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 2.56 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 (.927) and minutes played (36.8 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (18th) and three-point field-goal percentage (13th, .343).
Scouting The Golden Gophers
Minnesota started the season 6-1 and went 11-3 out of conference, but has seen the road get a bit tougher as it is off to a 2-4 start in Big Ten play, including three straight losses.
The Gophers are No. 62 in WarrenNolan.com's RPI rankings and have a schedule strength of 54. Minnesota has five top-100 RPI wins, beating No. 10 Villanova (Nov. 11), No. 28 Creighton (Dec. 30), No. 69 Missouri (Nov. 24), No. 71 Ohio State (Jan. 10) and No. 81 Wisconsin (Jan. 6).
Minnesota ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (71.5 ppg), 10th in scoring defense (63.7 ppg) and eighth in scoring margin (+7.8). The Gophers also rank 19th in the nation in field-goal percentage (.446) and 20th in free-throw percentage (.755).
Sophomore Rachel Banham ranks second in the league in scoring (20.3 points per game), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7:1), and eighth in assists (4.0 apg) and steals (2.3 pg). Junior Micaella Riche leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.559) and is ninth in rebounding (7.1 pg).
Minnesota Series History
Last Meeting with the Gophers