Game 20 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #22/20 Purdue
Jan. 25, 2014
Looking Back at Win Over Spartans: With Thursday's game at Michigan State tied at 46, Jacqui Grant grabbed an offensive board and was fouled. After the final media timeout, Grant drained both free throws. The next trip down the court, she hit a three-pointer and, after a turnover on the next trip, she drained a jumper. On the other end, the Illini had forced three consecutive Spartan turnovers to facilitate a 7-0 run and give Illinois a lead it wouldn't relinquish. UI held MSU scoreless for 3:20 down the stretch and the Spartans scored only five points over the final 4:21. Illinois also shut down MSU's offense for 5:29 in the first half and held the Spartans to 51 points for the game, their lowest output of the season.
Illini Turn Tide on Spartans at Charity Stripe: After the Illini were whistled for 10 first-half fouls at Michigan State on Thursday, they cranked up their offensive aggressiveness, drawing 15 fouls on the Spartans in the second half. That led to Illinois landing in the bonus at the 12:52 mark and making 14-of-19 free throws from that point foward. In all, UI was 17-of-23 at the free-throw line after halftime. MSU managed only a 4-of-9 performance from the stripe in the second half.
Schedule Regains Sense of Normalcy: After a stretch where Illinois played three consecutive home games, had an open date and went on the road for three straight contests, the schedule returns to a more regular rhythm this week as the Illini host Purdue on Monday and travel to Ohio State on Thursday. The schedule jumble happened when UI's Northwestern game was postponed from Jan. 6 to Jan 15 because of heavy snow and high winds.
Shades of Yesteryear: Like 2012-13, Illinois lost its first three home games of the Big Ten campaign. The difference was that last season, those three games were spread over 19 days instead of the 10-day span the Illini faced this season. Last year, Illinois also won its first five Big Ten road games. This season, the Illini are 2-1 in conference road contests, winning at Michigan State and Northwestern, and losing at Michigan.
Illini Cranking Up Defensive Pressure: After breaking Big Ten records for steals and turnovers forced in conference games last season, Illinois is back at it again in 2013-14. The Illini have forced 124 turnovers in their first five Big Ten games, including pressuring Wisconsin into 30 miscues and No. 14 Penn State into 27. UI forced a season-high 36 turnovers against Alcorn State on Nov. 17 and has caused 20-plus turnovers in 12 of 19 games. Illinois ranked 13th nationally in steals per game (11.4) and 12th in turnover margin (+6.37 per game) as of Jan. 24, leading the Big Ten in both categories.
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 23.3 points off turnovers per game, a 9.0-point per game advantage over their foes. Illinois is averaging 23.3 points off miscues in over its last seven games - including 35 against No. 14 Penn State on Jan. 9 - and UI has scored over 20 points off turnovers 10 times this season, most recently with 25 at Northwestern on Jan. 15.
Balance Leads to Victory: The Illini used a balanced effort to top Northwestern on Jan. 15, as all eight Illinois players who saw the floor scored and six totaled seven or more points. Seven of the eight Illini who played also hit a three-pointer, as Illinois went 11-of-20 (55 percent) from distance in the game. That tied the school record for most three-pointers in a Big Ten game, which the Illini broke last season. Illinois had a similar scenario in Thursday's win at Michigan State, as seven of the eight Illini who played scored, and six made at least one three-pointer.
Crawford Takes Center Stage: After serving as Illinois' second scoring threat through much of the non-conference slate, junior Ivory Crawford has asserted herself more on the offensive end of late. She is third in the Big Ten in scoring in conference play with 19.3 points per game, and has posted 19 or more points in five of six Big Ten games. Her 23 points at No. 19 Georgia on Dec. 28 and 20 against Wisconsin on Jan. 3 marked the first back-to-back 20-point games in her career. She followed that with an efficient 25-point night against No. 14 Penn State on Jan. 9, making 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-10 from the charity stripe. For the season, Crawford is averaging 15.3 points per game and has scored in double digits 16 times, with the 25 points against PSU a season high. She has five 20-point games this year after entering the season with only three in her career.
Grant Providing Consistent Production: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant has been a consistent offensive threat for the Illini, averaging 12.9 points per game for the season and 13.3 in Big Ten play. She started her rookie campaign with seven straight double-digit outputs and has scored in double figures in Illinois' last five games. She was a huge factor in the Illini's win at Michigan State on Jan. 23, posting her first double-double since Dec. 4 with 13 points and 10 rebounds, including nine points and five boards in the second half. With the game tied 46-46, she grabbed a crucial offensive board then hit two free throws after the final media timeout to start a personal 7-0 run and give UI a lead it wouldn't relinquish. The MSU game marked her 15th game scoring in double figures and her third double-double of the year.
Smith Takes Care of the Rock: Junior guard Alexis Smith is in the midst of her best stretch of ball-handling this season, totaling 16 assists and only six turnovers over the last three games. She notched five assists each against Northwestern and Michigan, then added six at Michigan State. In those three games, she had two, one and three turnovers, respectively. Her 10:3 assist-to-turnover ratio was the third-best in the Big Ten last week and she is tied for 12th in assists per game during conference play at 3.8.
70 the Magic Number: The 70-point threshold has been close to a determining factor for the Illini defense this season, as Illinois is 8-1 when holding its opponent to 70 or fewer points. Both Seton Hall and Mississippi Valley State reached 70 points, but Illinois won both of those games. Its only defeat came at Michigan when the Wolverines scored 69. Illinois has been almost as predictable when it scores 70 or more points, holding an 8-2 mark when topping 70, with the only losses a 98-92 barn-burner against Bradley in the season-opener and an 82-76 defeat by No. 14 Penn State.
Moore An All-Around Threat: Senior Amber Moore has 57 three-pointers on the season and is averaging 3.0 per game, which ranks 16th nationally. She has 46 percent of the Illini's total treys and no other UI player has more than 16 triples this season. But Moore isn't just a long-range gunner. She also has the third-most free throws on the team, making 39-of-48 (.813) from the line, and ranks second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. She also has the second-most steals on the team (37) and is tied for third with 2.5 assists per game.
Starters Carry Scoring Load: Illinois has three starters averaging double figures and two more players over 8.4 ppg. With the squad averaging 72.1 points per game, the Illini's starters are scoring 85.3 percent of the points (1,168 out of 1,369 total points).
Fearsome Foursome Leads the Way: Amber Moore registered double figures in the Illini's first 13 games and has six 20-point efforts. Ivory Crawford has posted double figures 16 times - including five 20-point games - and Jacqui Grant has done it 15 times, with Sarah Hartwell accomplishing it nine times. Moore is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring average (15.9 ppg), Crawford is tied for ninth (15.3) and Grant is 26th (12.9).
Scouting the Boilermakers
The Boilers started slowly in Big Ten play, losing at Ohio State and Northwestern to start the conference season before rallying for a 10-point win at Penn State on Jan. 12. But Purdue stumbled at home in its next game, losing to Michigan by 16. PU seems to have righted the ship lately, though, going 3-0 against Indiana, Nebraska and Northwestern in a seven-day stretch.
Senior guards Courtney Moses and KK Houser drive the bus for the Boilers, combining to average 30.5 points and accounting for 68 percent of PU's three-pointers. Houser has 104 assists (5.5 apg, fifth in the Big Ten) and ranks fourth in the league in steals per game (2.0). Moses has the second-best three-point percentage (.477) and third-most threes per game (2.7) in the Big Ten, while also ranking third in free-throw percentage (.905). Whitney Bays provides a spark off the bench for Purdue, averaging 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20.8 minutes.
Purdue is the second-best three-point shooting team in the Big Ten (7.2 per game and .397), and ranks fourth in scoring (75.1 ppg). But the Boilers have the 10th-best scoring defense (69.0 ppg, rank 11th in field-goal percentage defense (.414) and 12th in three-point defense (.334).
Purdue ranks ninth nationally in three-point field-goal percentage (.397) and 10th in free-throw percentage (.772). The Boilers also are 35th in assists per game (16.6) and 40th in blocked shots per game (4.7).
Series History Against Purdue
Last Season Against Purdue
In West Lafayette, Illinois led by three points with 11:48 left in the game but then went nearly six minutes without a field goal as No. 25 Purdue used a 13-0 run to turn the tide and pull away for a 76-65 win. Karisma Penn scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting and added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Adrienne Godbold added 18 on 8-of-15 shooting with six boards and four steals. Sophomore Ivory Crawford joined them in double figures with 11. Illinois shot 44 percent (26-of-59) from the field in the game but was 1-of-15 (6.7 percent) from three-point range, including 0-of-11 in the second half. Purdue shot 51.8 (29-of-56) overall and made 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) three-pointers.