Game 23 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #24/RV Michigan State
Feb. 4, 2014
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.
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 179 turnovers in their first eight Big Ten games (19.9 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 13 times. Illinois ranked eighth nationally in steals per game (11.3) and 14th in turnover margin (+5.77 per game) through games of Feb. 2, leading the Big Ten in both categories.
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 22.3 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 15.6 points over Illinois' last five contests, her best three-game stretch of the season. She tied her career high with 22 points against Purdue on Jan. 27 then followed with 23 at Ohio State on Jan. 30, including 15 in the first half. Grant also is averaging 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over that span. For the season, she has four 20-point outings and has scored in double digits in 17 of 22 games.
Crawford Takes Center Stage: After serving as Illinois' second scoring threat through much of the non-conference slate, junior Ivory Crawford has moved into a primary scoring role in Big Ten play. She is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring in conference play with 17.7 points per game, and has posted 19 or more points in five of nine 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 15.2 points per game and has scored in double digits 19 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.
Scouting the Spartans
Michigan State was ranked in the first four Associated Press polls this season but dropped out following the IPFW loss. The Spartans jumped back into the AP poll at No. 24 this week after beating Ohio State and Purdue last week.
The Spartans are very good in a number of areas, ranking 28th nationally in field-goal percentage (.449) and assists per game (16.7), 41st in three-point field-goal percentage (.355) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.08), and 46th in scoring offense (75.5), scoring margin (+10.3 ppg), rebound margin (+6.5) and blocked shots (4.5 pg). MSU is second and fourth in the Big Ten in scoring offense and scoring margin, respectively, third in field-goal percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio, and fourth in three-point percentage, rebounding margin and assists.
Junior guard Kiana Johnson spearheads MSU's offensive attack, leading the Big Ten and ranking 14th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.85), and standing fourth in the league in assists (6.0 pg). Aerial Powers leads the Spartans in scoring with 13.8 ppg, Annalise Pickrel is at 13.2 and Tori Jankoska averages 12.1 ppg. After the Illini held Powers to two points on Jan. 23, she has averaged 17.0 ppg in MSU's last three games.
Series History Against Michigan State
Last Meeting with Michigan State