Game 26 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. Indiana
Feb. 21, 2013
The House of 'Paign: The Illini opened the Big Ten season 0-3 at home but have won their last three home games over No. 24 Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It marks the first time this season that Illinois has recorded three straight home wins. The last time the Illini won four consecutive Big Ten home games was in 2000-01.
Big Ten Race Heats Up: With teams having three or four games left in the Big Ten season, Illinois stands tied for fourth place in the conference standings with Michigan State and Purdue (prior to Thursday's games), and only one-and-a-half games behind second-place Nebraska, whom the Illini beat in Lincoln on Jan. 17. The Orange and Blue can continue to make a late-season run, with two of their remaining three games at home. UI also holds tiebreakers over Iowa and Minnesota, should those come into play.
Illini Virtually Clinch Postseason Berth: With its win over Wisconsin on Monday, Illinois secured its 15th win of the season and all but locked up a postseason bid as it is guaranteed to finish the season at .500 or better. The Illini also have clinched at least a .500 record in Big Ten play for the first time since 2006-07 (8-8, fourth place). Illinois last finished over .500 overall in 2009-10 when it went 19-15 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. The Illini's last Big Ten record over .500 came in 2002-03 (9-7, sixth place). Illinois' last appearance in the NCAA Tournament also was in 2002-03.
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 25 games. The swing spot has been the Illini's fourth guard or second forward position, where Adrienne Godbold has started the last 14 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.
Turnaround in Progress: With 15 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 25 games last season, the Illini were 9-16 overall, 3-9 in the Big Ten. Two years ago, Illinois was 7-18 overall, 2-10 in the Big Ten.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure since Adrienne Godbold's return, forcing 62 more turnovers this season than in all of last year (598-536) in five fewer games. The Illini have forced 357 turnovers in their last 14 games (25.5 per game), and 331 in 13 Big Ten games (25.5 pg). At that rate, the Orange and Blue will crush the record for steals per game in a conference season (23.5, Ohio State, 1988). Illinois has forced or equaled an opponent's season high in turnovers in six games this year, most recently with 29 miscues by No. 7 Penn State on Wednesday.
Illini Taking What Isn't Theirs: The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank ninth nationally in steals per game (12.8) (as of 2/19) and also lead the league with 15.1 steals per game during conference play, nearly three steals per game more than second-place Penn State (12.2). Illinois broke the school record for steals with 18 at No. 7 PSU on Feb. 20, and needs 83 more to break the Big Ten record for steals in a season. With 196 steals and three games remaining, the Illini likely will break the record for steals and steals per game in a Big Ten season, as those marks are 232 by the 1985 Ohio State team and 12.9 by the 1996 Wisconsin squad, respectively. The Illini broke the school record for most steals in a Big Ten game with 24 at Northwestern on Jan 10. Illinois has recorded double-digit steals in 18 of 25 games and 11 of the last 13.
Stealing the Spotlight: A pair of Illini players occupy the top two spots in steals per game in conference play, and four are in the top 10. Adrienne Godbold leads the league in Big Ten games (3.8 spg), while Karisma Penn is second (3.6 spg), Ivory Crawford is sixth (2.6 spg) and Alexis Smith is 10th (2.2 spg).
Scouting The Hoosiers
Like Illinois, Indiana also is in its first season under a new head coach, as Curt Miller moved to Bloomington after spending 11 seasons at Bowling Green. He went 258-92 at the helm of the Falcons, won five Mid-American Conference tournament titles, reached the NCAA tournament five times and the WNIT three times.
Although Indiana's team statistical rankings aren't among the league's best, senior guard Aulani Sinclair is one of the Big Ten's most prolific scorers. She ranks seventh in the league at 15.8 points per game and is fifth in three-pointers per game at 2.4. Her three-point percentage ranks seventh (.394) and she leads the league in minutes played (38.0 per game).
Indiana Series History
Last Meeting With the Hoosiers
Indiana out-rebounded Illinois 47-32 on the day, but the Illini got four big rebounds in the final minute. Adrienne Godbold converted a rebound basket, was fouled and made the subsequent free throw with 43 seconds left to cut the deficit to 60-59. After Karisma Penn blocked a shot on the other end, GodBold got the rebound with 18 seconds left and led the fast break. Although the Illini weren't able to convert on the break, GodBold got another board to save the possession with 10.8 seconds remaining. McCully then corraled the game's most important rebound and put it back for the game-winner.