Game 22 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Indiana
Feb. 1, 2014
Illini on Super Bowl Sunday: This marks the fifth-straight year that Illinois has played on Super Bowl Sunday. The Illini won at Wisconsin last year on Super Bowl Sunday, snapping a six-game losing streak on the day of the big game. Illinois is 10-13 all-time on Super Bowl Sunday and 0-2 against Indiana. Interestingly enough, both Illinois-Indiana Super Bowl Sunday tilts have come when each fan base had a rooting interest in the Super Bowl, as the Hoosiers won 72-60 in Champaign on Jan. 26, 1986, the date of the Chicago Bears' 46-10 victory over New England in Super Bowl XX. In 2010, IU won 67-54 in Champaign on the same day as the Indianapolis Colts' 31-17 loss to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV.
Looking Back at Win Over Spartans: With the Jan. 23 game at Michigan State tied at 46, Jacqui Grant recorded a personal 7-0 run that gave 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 forward. 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. The script was flipped in Thursday's game at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes made 25-of-29 at the line, compared to only 6-of-7 by the Illini.
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 returned to a more regular rhythm this week as the Illini hosted Purdue on Monday and traveled to Ohio State on Thursday before hosting Indiana Sunday and Michigan State on Wednesday. The schedule jumble happened when UI's Northwestern game was postponed from Jan. 6 to Jan 15 because of heavy snow and high winds.
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 158 turnovers in their first eight Big Ten games (19.8 pg), 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 12 times. Illinois ranked 11th nationally in steals per game (11.2) and 15th in turnover margin (+5.62 per game) through games of Jan. 30, leading the Big Ten in both categories.
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 22.5 points off turnovers per game, a 7.8-point per game advantage over their foes. Illinois 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 the win at Michigan State on Jan. 23, as seven of the eight Illini who played scored, and six made at least one three-pointer.
Grant Assumes Command: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant has taken over on the offensive end of late, averaging 19.3 points over Illinois' last three contests, her best three-game stretch of the season. She tied her career high with 22 points against Purdue on Monday then followed with 23 at Ohio State on Thursday, including 15 in the first half. Grant also is averaging 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks over that span. For the season, she has four 20-point outings and has scored in double digits in 17 of 21 games.
Grant Named to B1G Honor Roll: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant was named to the Big Ten weekly honor roll on Jan. 28 after averaging 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game last week. She posted her third double-double of the season at Michigan State on Jan. 23 with 13 points and 10 rebounds, then tied her career high with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting against No. 19 Purdue on Jan. 27.
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 fourth in the Big Ten in scoring in conference play with 17.9 points per game, and has posted 19 or more points in five of eight 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 15.1 points per game and has scored in double digits 18 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: Jacqui Grant has been a consistent offensive threat for the Illini, averaging 13.9 points per game for the season and 15.6 in Big Ten play. Grant was a huge factor in the Illini's win at Michigan State on Jan. 23, posting her first double-double since Dec. 4 - and third this season - 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. Four nights later against No. 19 Purdue, Grant made 9-of-14 field goals on the way to tying her career high with 22 points, with 15 coming in the second half. She then scored 15 of her 23 points at Ohio State in the first half on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-5 from downtown.
Smith Takes Care of the Rock: Junior guard Alexis Smith is in the midst of her best stretch of ball-handling this season, totaling 26 assists and 17 turnovers over the last four games. She notched five assists each against Northwestern and Michigan, then added six at Michigan State, six more against No. 19 Purdue and four at Ohio State. Her 10:3 assist-to-turnover ratio was the third-best in the Big Ten from Jan. 13-19 and she is 10th in assists per game in all games (3.8) and 12th in conference play (4.1).
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.
Scouting the Hoosiers
Indiana holds a gaudy RPI ranking of 39 and has the 64th best schedule in the country according to RealTimeRPI.com. But the Hoosiers are just 2-6 against RPI top-100 teams - all conference opponents to this point - and 6-4 away from Assembly Hall, including an 0-4 Big Ten road record.
The Hoosiers take care of the ball extremely well, ranking 11th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game with 12.5 per game. IU also guards the three-pointer well, standing 13th nationally in three-point field-goal defense (.266). Indiana allows the second-fewest treys per game (4.4) in conference play among Big Ten teams, behind only Michigan State.
Freshman guard Larryn Brooks is IU's top scorer, averaging 16.9 points per game overall and 13.9 in Big Ten games, which ranks 16th in the conference. She has taken over 20 percent of the Hoosiers' shots in Big Ten play but also has 43 of IU's 101 assists. Fellow freshman guard Taylor Agler is averaging 10.1 points per game in conference action, up nearly 2.0 points per game compared to her overall scoring average, and is Indiana's only other double-digit scorer in Big Ten play.
After averaging 78.3 points per game in non-conference action, Indiana is putting up only 64.0 ppg in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers' shooting percentage has dropped from 46 percent to 35 and their free-throw percentage has fallen from 72.4 percent to 62.7 percent. IU has increased its three-pointers per game from 7.1 in non-conference action to 7.9 in Big Ten play, but is making four fewer field goals per game.
In conference games, Indiana ranks 10th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (64.0 ppg), 10th in scoring defense (73.8 ppg) and 12th in free-throw percentage (62.7 percent). IU also is 12th in field-goal percentage (34.5), 11th in field-goal defense (45.6), but tied for sixth in three-point percentage (33.3 percent) and second in three-point defense (.287). The Hoosiers also are sixth in rebounding margin (-1.8 rpg), tied for ninth in blocked shots (3.1 bpg), tied for sixth in steals (6.5 spg), 10th in assists (12.6 apg) and fifth in turnover margin (+0.5).
Series History Against Indiana
Last Season Against Indiana
Illinois forced 25 Hoosier turnovers, which tied IU's season high, and limited its leading scorer, Aulani Sinclair, to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting after she entered the game averaging 15.8 ppg. The Orange and Blue also totaled 18 assists on 26 field goals (69 percent). In addition to Penn's 25 points, Ivory Crawford scored 13 on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-3 three-pointers. Adrienne Godbold added nine and Taylor Tuck also chipped in nine points, including a key three-pointer after Indiana had cut the margin to six early in the second half. Amber Moore had eight points and six assists, and Alexis Smith contributed six points, seven assists and a game-high four steals.