Game 21 Notes & Links: Illinois at Wisconsin
Feb. 1, 2013
The Big Ten At the Turn: With the first half of the Big Ten season complete, the Fighting Illini are locked in a five-team tie for third place at 5-3 in the conference standings, while Wisconsin is tied with Northwestern for ninth at 2-6 in league play. Illinois' five conference wins match its Big Ten victories from last season, when the Orange and Blue went 5-11.
Not such A Super Sunday: The Illini are playing on Super Bowl Sunday for the fourth-straight year and have lost their last six games on the same day as the NFL's title tilt. The last time the Orange and Blue won on Super Bowl Sunday was a 94-78 victory over Michigan on Feb. 1, 2004. Illinois is 9-13 all-time on Super Bowl Sunday and will be facing Wisconsin for the first time on the pseudo-holiday.
Illini Heat Up Recently: Illinois is coming off consecutive games in which it has made 11 three-pointers, which is the school record for a single game. The Illini broke that mark on Monday at Minnesota before tying it against No. 24 Iowa on Thursday. Illinois also totaled 23 assists against the Gophers, UI's most since tallying 28 against Cal Poly on Nov. 22, 2010. Illinois is shooting 43.1 percent from three-point range in the last two games (22-of-51) and its 165 combined points in the last two games mark the Illini's most in consecutive Big Ten games since scoring 170 against Michigan and Northwestern in 2004.
Turnaround in Progress: With 12 wins so far this season, the Illini have surpassed the squad's win totals from the past two seasons (11, 2011-12; 9, 2010-11). Through 20 games last season, the Illini were 6-14 overall, 0-7 in the Big Ten. At 5-3, Illinois has its best conference record at the end of January since 2006-07 when the Illini also were 5-3.
Illini Relish Underdog Role: Illinois has won three of its last four games against ranked opponents after beating AP-ranked No. 6 Georgia on Dec. 28, Ohio State, who was No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, on Jan. 6 and No. 24 Iowa on Jan. 31. The loss was a 67-66 overtime thriller to No. 14 Purdue on Jan. 2. Illinois is 43-168 all-time against AP-ranked opponents and 30-68 at home.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure lately, forcing 231 turnovers in its last nine games (25.7 per game), and 205 in seven Big Ten games (25.6 pg). The Illini lead the league with 15.3 steals per game during conference play, and Illinois leads the league and ranks 17th 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.
Stealing the Spotlight: Four Illini players rank in the top seven in steals per game in conference play, as Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in league games (3.9 spg), Adrienne Godbold is tied for fourth (3.4 spg), Ivory Crawford is sixth (2.8 spg) and Alexis Smith is tied for seventh (2.6 spg).
Illini `Trey-mendous' from Deep: Illinois radio play-by-play man Dave Loane has been using his signature "trey-mendous" call quite a bit this season, as the Fighting Illini rank third in the Big Ten in three-pointers made per game (6.3) and have made 10 or more treys four times this season, including 11 in each of the last two games. The Orange and Blue drained 11 threes in the season-opener against Evansville, tying the second-most in a game in school history and the most by an Illinois team in nearly nine years. The Illini broke the school record for threes in a Big Ten game with 11 at Minnesota on Jan. 28, followed that up with 11 against No. 24 Iowa on Jan. 31 and hit 10 treys against Illinois State on Dec. 21.
Road Warriors: The Illini have won four straight Big Ten road games (Ohio State, 1/6; Northwestern, 1/10; Nebraska, 1/17; Minnesota, 1/28), marking the first time since 2001 that Illinois has accomplished the feat. Like this season, the Illini also won their first four conference road contests in 2001. 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 5-1 this season in true road games.
GodBold Shows She Was UI's Missing Piece: After missing the first semester for academic reasons, senior guard Adrienne Godbold has been a force. She poured in a career-high 28 points against Michigan State on Jan. 13, scored 21 against Northwestern on Jan. 20, added 18 at Minnesota on Jan. 28 and had 17 against No. 24 Iowa on Jan. 31. She has scored in double digits in all nine games she has played, including four 20-point efforts. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranks third in the league with 19.6 points per game.
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: Despite generally being out-sized, the Illini have held their own in the paint lately, outscoring their last nine foes 260-245 in the post, an average of 28.9-27.2 per game. Illinois out-paced No. 6 Georgia 32-18 and outscored No. 14 Purdue 38-28.
RPI On Solid Footing: The Illini's RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com, stands at No. 57 and the Orange and Blue have faced one of the top schedules in the country, as Illinois' slate is rated No. 26. Six of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures in the top 40, while Minnesota is No. 61 and Wisconsin is No. 74.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank second in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally in scoring, averaging 72.5 points per game. Illinois also leads the Big Ten in scoring in conference games (71.2 ppg). Through 20 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 8.2 ppg more than last season's first 20 games scoring average of 64.3.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding and blocked shots, ranks third in steals, fifth in scoring and 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 2.0 blocks per game. A career 13.9 ppg scorer, Penn is up to 18.7 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 13.1 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, third-best in the Big Ten, and Illinois is 9-1 when she makes three or more triples in a game. Moore also ranks third in the league in free-throw percentage (.911) and second in minutes played (37.0 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (15th) and three-point field-goal percentage (10th, .368).
Scouting The Badgers
Wisconsin went 8-5 in non-conference play, including a 6-1 mark at home. But the Badgers found the road difficult in the Big Ten, losing their first five conference games, including an 84-40 drubbing at Penn State on Jan. 17. Wisconsin bounced back with a 19-point win over Ohio State on Jan. 20, and upset the Nittany Lions on Thursday.
Despite their below-.500 record, the Badgers are No. 74 in WarrenNolan.com's latest RPI figures and have the 21st-best schedule in the nation.
Wisconsin ranks 11th in the Big Ten in scoring offense but stays in games with its defense, ranking sixth in the league in scoring D. The Badgers rank 12th in three-point field goal percentage and three-point defense, and 10th in rebounding margin and turnover margin.
Senior Tiera Stephen ranks second in the Big Ten in steals (3.2 spg) and is tied for third in the Big Ten in assists (5.5 apg). Junior Morgan Paige ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (17.1 ppg) and junior Cassie Rochel is fifth in rebounding (8.0 rpg). Rochel also is second in blocked shots (2.4 bpg) and senior Jacki Gulczynski is third in three-point percentage (.435).
Wisconsin Series History
Last Season Against the Badgers
In the January contest in Champaign, Kersten Magrum scored 17 of her game-high 20 points and Illinois shot 68 percent in the first half. But Wisconsin used an 11-0 run late in the game to go up 62-57 and held on as Amber Moore's late three-pointer missed.