Game 23 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Minnesota
Feb. 9, 2013
Setting the Scene for Sunday: Illinois has won six of its last nine games and stand tied for fifth with Michigan at 6-4 in the Big Ten standings. Minnesota, which has won two of its last three after dropping four straight, sits in eighth place in the league at 4-6. The Illini pulled out a 91-86 thriller at Williams Arena just 13 days ago on Jan. 28. The Gophers are 1-4 on the road in Big Ten play with an average margin of defeat of 13.0 ppg in the four losses.
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.
Big Ten Race Heats Up: With most teams having six games left in the Big Ten season, Illinois stands tied with Michigan for fifth place in the conference standing, but only one game out of third. The Illini have a chance to make a late run, with four of their last six games at home and three of those against teams they have already beaten this season.
Pair of Pink Games This Week: Illinois is playing in its second "pink game" this week, as Michigan partnered with the Americna Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for Thursday's game and the Illini will participate in the WBCA's Play 4Kay initiative to honor the memory of former N.C. State coach Kay Yow while raising breast cancer awareness at Sunday's game against Minnesota. The Illini will wear their pink uniforms with orange and blue trim for both games.
Consistency Key for Illini: Illinois has used only three different starting lineups this season, as Karisma Penn, Ivory Crawford, Amber Moore and Alexis Smith have each started all 22 games. The swing spot has been the Illini's fourth guard or second forward position, where Adrienne Godbold has started the last 11 games. Kersten Magrum started seven games before being medically disqualified for her career after suffering her fourth concussion, and Mckenzie Piper started four games in place of Magrum early in the season.
Illini Cool Off After Hot Streak: After making 29 three-pointers in its previous three games - including two 11-trey efforts, the school record for a single game - Illinois came back to earth with a 4-of-23 effort from long range at Michigan on Feb. 7. The Illini broke that school record 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' its 298 points in the last four games mark the Illini's most in four straight Big Ten games since scoring 328 against Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue and Iowa in 2003.
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 22 games last season, the Illini were 7-15 overall, 1-8 in the Big Ten. Two years ago, Illinois also was 7-15 overall, 2-7 in the Big Ten.
Road Warriors: Illinois lost its first Big Ten road game of the season on Thursday, snapping a five-game road winning streak in conference play. That marked the first time an Illinois team has ever won five straight Big Ten games in one season and tied the school record for road wins in a conference campaign. 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 6-2 this season in true road games.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure lately, forcing 281 turnovers in its last 11 games (25.5 per game), and 255 in 10 Big Ten games (25.5 pg). The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank 11th nationally in steals per game (12.7) and also lead the league with 15.4 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. Illinois has recorded double-digit steals in 16 of 22 games and nine of the last 10.
Stealing the Spotlight: Four Illini players rank in the top nine in steals per game in conference play, as Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in league games (4.1 spg), Adrienne Godbold is second (3.6 spg), Ivory Crawford is sixth (2.6 spg) and Alexis Smith is tied for ninth (2.3 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 (6.2) 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 and followed that up with 11 against No. 24 Iowa on Jan. 31. Illinois 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 11 foes 324-299 in the post, an average of 29.5-27.2 per game. Illinois out-paced No. 6 Georgia 32-18, outscored No. 14 Purdue 38-28 and bested Michigan 44-32.
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. 28. Six of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures in the top 40, while Minnesota is No. 60 and Ohio State is No. 77.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank second in the Big Ten and 27th nationally in scoring, averaging 72.0 points per game. Illinois also ranks second in scoring in conference games (70.3 ppg), 2.4 points ahead of third-place Minnesota. Illinois has topped 90 points twice this year, marking the first season with two games over 90 since 2002-03. Through 22 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 8.2 ppg more than last season's first 22 games scoring average of 63.8.
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 11 games she has played, including four 20-point efforts. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranks third in the league with 18.9 points per game.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn is tied for the Big Ten lead in blocked shots, ranks second in rebounding, tied for second 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. 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 12.7 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 2.6 three-point field goals per game, fourth-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 (.900) and second in minutes played (36.8 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (17th) and three-point field-goal percentage (11th, .365).
Scouting The Golden Gophers
Minnesota started the season 6-1 and went 11-3 out of conference, but has seen the road get a bit tougher as it is off to a 4-6 start in Big Ten play, including five losses in its last seven games.
The Gophers are No. 60 in WarrenNolan.com's RPI rankings and have a schedule strength of 32. Minnesota has seven top-100 RPI wins, beating No. 16 Villanova (Nov. 11), No. 28 Creighton (Dec. 30), No. 34 Iowa (Feb. 7), No. 38 Michigan (Jan. 31), No. 75 Missouri (Nov. 24), No. 77 Ohio State (Jan. 10) and No. 100 Wisconsin (Jan. 6).
Minnesota ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring offense (71.9 ppg), 11th in scoring defense (65.5 ppg) and eighth in scoring margin (+6.4). The Gophers also rank 14th in the nation in field-goal percentage (.451) and 18th in free-throw percentage (.760).
Sophomore Rachel Banham leads the league and ranks ninth nationally in scoring (21.6 points per game), is 10th nationally in free-throw percentage (.897), fifth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6:1), and eighth in assists (3.8 apg) and steals (2.1 pg). Junior Micaella Riche is second in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.537) and eighth in rebounding (7.3 pg)
Minnesota Series History
Last Meeting with the Golden Gophers
Minnesota's Rachel Banham - who led all scorers with 37 points, the most against the Illini since DePaul's Lenae Williams scored 39 on Dec. 4, 2001 - gave the Gophers an 82-81 lead with 4:10 left, but Illinois scored six of the next seven points to push ahead 87-83. Minnesota pulled within 87-86 on a three-pointer by Sari Noga with 1:31 left, but the Illini held the Gophers scoreless the rest of the way.