Game 22 Notes: Illinois at Michigan
Feb. 5, 2013
Illini Named espnW Team of the Week: The Orange and Blue were named espnW's national team of the week on Monday after winning three games in seven days last week. Illinois pulled out a 91-86 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 28, topped No. 24 Iowa at home on Jan. 31 and won at Wisconsin on Feb. 3.
Road Warriors: The Illini have won five straight Big Ten road games, marking the first time an Illinois team has ever done so in one season and tying the school record for road wins in a Big Ten season. The last time the Orange and Blue had won five straight Big Ten road games was across the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons. Overall, the Orange and Blue are 6-1 this season in true road games.
The Big Ten At the Turn: One game past the halfway point of the Big Ten season, the Fighting Illini are part of a three-team tie for second place in the conference standings at 6-3, while Michigan is just one game back, tied with Iowa for sixth place at 5-4. Illinois has equaled its best start in 15 years, since the 1997-98 team went 8-1 to begin Big Ten play, matching the 6-3 starts of the 2006-07, 2000-01, 1999-2000 and 1998-99 teams. With six Big Ten victories, Illinois has its most league wins since finishing the 2009-10 campaign at 7-11.
Illini Heat Up Recently: Illinois has made 29 three-pointers in its last three games, including two 11-trey efforts, the school record for a single game. The Illini broke that mark on Jan. 28 at Minnesota before tying it against No. 24 Iowa on Jan. 31. Illinois also totaled 23 assists against the Gophers, UI's most since tallying 28 against Cal Poly on Nov. 22, 2010. Illinois is shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range in the last two games (29-of-71) and its 229 points in the last three games mark the Illini's most in three straight Big Ten games since scoring 234 against Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana in 2004.
Turnaround in Progress: With 13 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 21 games last season, the Illini were 7-14 overall, 1-7 in the Big Ten. Two years ago, Illinois also was 7-14 overall, 2-6 in the Big Ten.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure lately, forcing 258 turnovers in its last 10 games (25.8 per game), and 232 in nine Big Ten games (25.8 pg). The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank 11th nationally in steals per game (12.7) and also lead the league with 15.7 steals per game during conference play. The Illini recorded 24 steals, the most in a Big Ten game in school history, at Northwestern on Jan 10 and had 19 at Wisconsin on Feb. 3.
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 (4.0 spg), Adrienne Godbold is second (3.7 spg), Ivory Crawford is sixth (2.7 spg) and Alexis Smith is tied for seventh (2.4 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 consecutive games on Jan. 28 and 31. 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 also hit 10 treys against Illinois State on Dec. 21.
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, which 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.
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: Despite generally being out-sized, the Illini have held their own in the paint lately, outscoring their last 10 foes 280-267 in the post, an average of 28.0-26.7 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. 31. Six of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures in the top 40, while Minnesota is No. 65 and Ohio State is No. 77.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank second in the Big Ten and 28th nationally in scoring, averaging 72.1 points per game. Illinois also ranks second in scoring in conference games (70.4 ppg). Through 21 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 7.5 ppg more than last season's first 21 games scoring average of 64.6.
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 10 games she has played, including four 20-point efforts. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranks third in the league with 19.4 points per game.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in blocked shots, ranks second in rebounding, third in steals, and 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 18.5 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 fourth in the league in free-throw percentage (.900) and second in minutes played (37.1 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (14th) and three-point field-goal percentage (10th, .374).
Scouting The Wolverines
Michigan went 11-2 in non-conference play, including an 8-1 home mark. But UM hasn't won at the Crisler Center since a 54-43 victory over Wisconsin on Jan. 13, losing its last two home games to Penn State and Iowa. In its last three games, Michigan has lost by six, 15 and 15 points. The Wolverines have been held under 50 points twice in their last five games and haven't broken 70 in Big Ten play.
The Wolverines are No. 39 in the RPI according to WarrenNolan.com, which includes UM's 61-46 loss to Michigan State on Monday.
Michigan ranks 10th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (61.6 ppg) but is second in the league in scoring defense (53.0 ppg). The Wolverines also shoot well, ranking third in field-goal percentage (.446) and second in three-point FG percentage (.371) in the Big Ten. UM also leads the league in three-pointers made per game with 6.6. However, Michigan ranks sixth in field-goal percentage (.406) and eighth in three-point FG percentage (.315) in Big Ten games.
Senior Kate Thompson leads Michigan in scoring and ranks ninth in the Big Ten at 15.0 points per game, while senior Rachel Sheffer is 18th at 12.7 ppg. UM's top rebounder is senior Nya Jordan, who averages 6.5 rpg and ranks 13th in the league. Senior Jenny Ryan stands second in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8:1) and sixth in assists (5.0 apg), while Thompson leads the Big Ten in three-pointers made per game (3.6) and is second in three-point percentage (.442).
Michigan Series History
Last Season Against the Wolverines
In both teams' Big Ten Tournament opener, seventh-seeded Michigan shot 54.5 percent in the second half to hold off a persistent Illinois squad that cut a 16-point first-half deficit to eight early in the second half before running out of gas. Adrienne Godbold scored a team-high 12 points, all in the second half, and Lydia McCully chipped in 10.