Game 27 Notes: Illinois vs. Ohio State
Feb. 27, 2013
Penn Named to Naismith List: Senior Karisma Penn was named to the list of top 30 candidates for the Naismith Women's College Player of the Year award on Wednesday, one of six Big Ten players on the list. Her inclusion means both an Illini men's player and women's player made the Naismith Top 30 lists, as Brandon Paul was included on the men's Top 30 list. That makes Illinois one of seven schools with at least one men's and one women's player on each list along with California, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Big Ten Race Heats Up: With two games left in the Big Ten season, Illinois stands tied for third place in the conference standings with Purdue, one game ahead of Michigan and Michigan State in the race for the final two first-round byes in the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State and Nebraska have clinched byes, and the Illini face Purdue in West Lafayette on Sunday to end the regular season.
Illini Clinch Postseason Berth: With its win over Wisconsin on Feb. 18, Illinois secured its 15th win of the season and locked up a postseason bid as it is guaranteed to finish the season with a winning record. It marks the first time in the last three years that Illinois will play beyond the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois last finished over .500 overall in 2009-10 when it went 19-15 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. Illinois' last appearance in the NCAA Tournament was in 2002-03.
Illinois Ensures Strong Big Ten Record: The Illini also have clinched a winning record in Big Ten play for the first time since 2002-03 (9-7, sixth place) and are looking for their first opening-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament since 2007. Illinois controls its own destiny for a first-round bye and cannot finish tied with Michigan or Michigan State because those teams hold tiebreakers over the Illini.
Illinois Strong Down the Stretch: The Orange and Blue have played well of late, winning three of their last four game and six of their last eight. That makes the Illini the third-hottest team in the Big Ten behind Nebraska (nine-game winning streak) and Penn State (7-1 in last eight games).
The House of 'Paign: The Illini have won four straight home games after opening the Big Ten season 0-3 at Assembly Hall, marking the first time since 2001-02 that the Illini have won four consecutive Big Ten home games. Illinois' last five-game Big Ten home winning streak came in 1999-2000.
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 26 games. The swing spot has been the Illini's fourth guard or second forward position, where Adrienne Godbold has started the last 15 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 16 wins so far this season, the Illini have surpassed the squad's win totals from each of the past two seasons (11, 2011-12; 9, 2010-11). Through 25 games last season, the Illini were 10-16 overall, 4-9 in the Big Ten. Two years ago, Illinois was 7-19 overall, 2-11 in the Big Ten.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure since Adrienne Godbold's return, forcing 87 more turnovers this season than in all of last year (623-536) in four fewer games. The Illini have forced 382 turnovers in their last 15 games (25.5 per game), and 356 in 14 Big Ten games (25.4 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 seven games this year, including the last two (No. 7 Penn State and Indiana).
Illini Taking What Isn't Theirs: The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank sixth nationally in steals per game (12.8) and also lead the league with 14.9 steals per game during conference play, 3.0 steals per game more than second-place Penn State (11.9). Illinois broke the school record for steals with 18 at No. 7 PSU on Feb. 20, and needs 70 more to break the Big Ten record for steals in a season. With 209 steals and two games remaining, the Illini have a chance to 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 19 of 26 games and 12 of the last 14.
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 seven. Adrienne Godbold leads the league in Big Ten games (3.64 spg), while Karisma Penn is second (3.57 spg), Ivory Crawford is tied for fifth (2.6 spg) and Alexis Smith is 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 (6.0) 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.
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: Despite usually being out-sized, the Illini have held their own in the paint lately, outscoring their last 15 foes 440-413 in the post, an average of 29.3-27.5 per game. Illinois out-paced No. 6 Georgia 32-18, outscored No. 14 Purdue 38-28, bested Michigan 44-32, topped Minnesota 34-28 (Feb. 10) and out-muscled Wisconsin 30-22 (Feb. 18).
RPI On Solid Footing: The Illini's RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com, stands at No. 55 and the Orange and Blue have faced one of the top schedules in the country, as Illinois' slate is rated No. 33. Six of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures in the top 36, while three more are in the top 100 (Ohio State, 78; Minnesota, 82; Northwestern, 93). Illinois is 7-9 against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI, including wins over No. 14 Georgia, No. 15 Nebraska and No. 36 Iowa.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank second in the Big Ten and 29th nationally in scoring, averaging 71.3 points per game. Illinois also ranks second in scoring in conference games (69.6 ppg), 3.3 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 26 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 7.2 ppg more than last season's first 26 games scoring average of 64.1. Illinois' five-game stretch prior to the Wisconsin game on Feb. 18 (374 points) marked its highest scoring output in five consecutive Big Ten games since scoring 397 against Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa and Penn State in 2003.
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 has scored in double digits in 14 of the 15 games she has played, including five 20-point efforts. Prior to this season, GodBold had only three 20-point games in her career. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranks fifth in the league with 17.9 points per game, leads the Big Ten in steals (3.6 per game) and is ninth in rebounding (7.7 rpg), the only guard in the top 10 in rebounding.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding, blocked shots and steals, and third in field-goal percentage and fourth in scoring, making her the only player in the conference to rank in the top five in all five categories. She also is the only post player in the top 10 in the league in steals and minutes played (ninth, 35.3 mpg). A career 13.9 ppg scorer, Penn is up to 19.1 ppg this year. For more on Penn's strong final season, see page 7.
Moore is Better: Junior guard Amber Moore also has increased her productivity under first-year head coach Matt Bollant, averaging 12.4 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, third-best in the Big Ten, and Illinois is 10-1 when she makes three or more triples in a game. Moore also ranks third in the league in free-throw percentage (.917), fourth in minutes played (36.8 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (21st) and three-point field-goal percentage (12th, .362).
Scouting The Buckeyes
The Buckeyes rank 26th nationally in field-goal percentage (43.6) and senior guard Tayler Hill is 11th in the country in scoring (21.2 ppg). She put up 30 points against the Illini in Columbus on Jan. 6.
OSU is a wild card in the Big Ten's postseason picture, but could fight its way into the NCAA Tournament with a strong finish, considering the Buckeyes finish against Illinois and Michigan, two teams in the top half of the conference standings. Ohio State also is hosting one of the pre-determined sites for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Value City Arena.
Ohio State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring margin in all games (+8.4 ppg), but eighth in conference games (-2.4 ppg). In Big Ten games, the Buckeyes rank eighth in both scoring offense (62.5 ppg) and scoring defense (64.9 ppg).
Hill leads the Big Ten in scoring in conference games with 22.5 points per game, but she is the only OSU player in the top 30. She also leads the league in minutes (40.1) and is eighth in steals. Ashley Adams is tied for fourth in blocked shots in Big Ten games, ranks seventh in field-goal percentage and 12th in rebounding.
Ohio State Series History
Last Meeting With the Buckeyes
It marked Illinois' first win at Ohio State in 12 years, since a 75-73 victory on Jan. 9, 2001, and snapped the Buckeyes' 31-game home winning streak, which was the second-longest in the nation. Illinois' 79 points were the most OSU had allowed to that point in 2012-13. Illinois scored 11 of the game's final 17 points, including a 7-of-8 effort from the line in the game's final 2:00. The Orange and Blue also came up with key rebounds late, snaring seven of the game's final eight rebounds in the game's final four minutes and 10 of the last 13 over the final 7:25.