Women's Basketball
Game 23 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #24/RV Michigan State

 
Ivory Crawford shot 67 percent (12-of-18) on two-point field goals last week.
Ivory Crawford shot 67 percent (12-of-18) on two-point field goals last week.
 

Feb. 4, 2014

 Game 23: Illinois (9-13, 2-7 B1G) vs. #24/RV Michigan State (15-7, 7-2 B1G)
 When Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 | 7 p.m. CT
 Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center (16,618) 
 Tickets $5 General Admission | U of I students free
 Watch BTDN on Fighting Illini All-Access | Sign Up for BTDN/Illini All-Access
 Listen WDWS AM-1400 Champaign | WDAN AM-1490 Danville | Listen ($)
(Dave Loane, play-by-play and Mike Koon, analyst)
 Live Stats Gametracker | Mobile Stats
 Printable Game Notes Illinois
 2013-14 Stats Illinois | Michigan State | Big Ten
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 Illinois Probable Starters
Pos. No. Name Ht. Yr. PPG RPG Note
G 23 Alexis Smith 5-9 Jr. 8.4 3.1 Had 9 pts, 7 rebs, 6 ast at MSU on 1/23
G 22 Ivory Crawford 5-10 Jr. 15.2 5.4 Shot 67% (12-18) on 2-pt FGs last week
G 0 Sarah Hartwell 5-10 So. 8.2 2.3 All 12 points at MSU came in 2nd half
G/F 42 Amber Moore 5-11 Sr. 15.5 5.3 15th in NCAA in 3FG/game (3.05) as of 2/2
F 34 Jacqui Grant 6-3 Fr. 13.4 6.0 Had 13 pts, 10 rebs at MSU on 1/23

Illinois is...
...8-2 when scoring 70 or more points
...8-1 when holding its opponents to 70 or fewer points
...8-4 when shooting 30 percent or better from 3-point range
...6-2 when attempting more than 20 free throws
...6-2 when Amber Moore makes 4+ three-pointers
...7-3 when Ivory Crawford has a positive assist-to-turnover margin
...leading the Big Ten in steals (11.3 pg) & turnover margin (+5.8) in all games & conference games (10.6 & +6.2)
...ranked 8th in the country in steals (11.3 spg) & 14th in turnover margin (+5.77) (through games of 2/2)

Quick Hits
• Wednesday's Game:
Illinois (9-13, 2-7) faces No. 24/RV Michigan State (15-7, 7-2) for the second time this season on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at State Farm Center. The Illini snagged a 61-51 upset in East Lansing on Jan. 23 but both teams have gone in opposite directions since that game, with Illinois losing its last three and MSU reeling off a three-game winning streak.

• 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 is 15-7 on the season and 7-2 in the Big Ten after reeling off three straight wins following the Illini's win in East Lansing on Jan. 23. MSU is 44th in the RPI according to RPIRatings.com, with the 48th-best schedule. The Spartans have nine wins over RPI Top-100 teams but lost to IPFW (181) and Virginia Tech (120) earlier in the season.

• 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
Michigan State holds a 36-28 lead in the all-time series with the Illini and has won 16 of the last 21 meetings dating back to Feb. 9, 2002. The teams played only once in each of the last two seasons, with the Illini earning a 71-62 overtime win in East Lansing in 2012 and MSU taking a 79-75 victory in Champaign last year. The Illini earned a 61-51 victory 13 days ago in East Lansing but the Spartans have won four in a row and eight of the last nine meetings in Champaign.

Last Meeting with Michigan State
Illinois scored 15 of the game's final 20 points to pull away for a 61-51 win at Michigan State on Jan. 23, as the Fighting Illini earned their second road win in their last three attempts and their second-straight win at the Breslin Center. Ivory Crawford led the way with 14 points and Jacqui Grant posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Illinois held MSU, which entered the game averaging 75.9 points per game, to its lowest point total of the season. Sarah Hartwell was the third Illini with 12 points, and Alexis Smith stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists. With the game tied 46-46, Jacqui Grant grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled, sending the game to the final media timeout. Grant then hit two free throws, starting a 7-0 run in which she accounted for all of the points. On the defensive end, the Illini held MSU to 0-of-4 shooting with three turnovers on its next five possessions. Illinois' lead ballooned to 57-46 with 1:17 left and the Illini held on for the 61-51 win.

HEADLINES