Game 29 Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #25 Iowa
Feb. 28, 2014
BTN Selects Regular-Season Finale: The Big Ten announced on Feb. 14 that Illinois' regular-season finale against Iowa on March 2 at State Farm Center will air live on the Big Ten Network at 3 p.m. CT. It marks the Illini's eighth regular-season game to appear on the network and all games in the Big Ten Tournament also will be televised.
Bollant Shakes Up Rotation: After using only three different starting lineups in the season's first 22 games, Illini head coach Matt Bollant used a completely new group of starters for three consecutive games starting against No. 24 Michigan State on Feb. 5. He tweaked the lineup three games later against Michigan and again at Nebraska on Thursday, giving Illinois three different lineups in its last six games.
Big Ten Trio Assaults Treys Record List: Illini senior Amber Moore is one of three current Big Ten players moving their way up the conference record list for career three-pointers made, along with Penn State's Maggie Lucas and Nebraska's Jordan Hooper. Lucas currently stands second on that list with 355, just three away from breaking Kelly Mazzante's record. Moore is fourth with 289 and Hooper is fifth with 284.
A Different Star Each Night: Since that lineup shakeup happened, two Illini players are averaging double figures: Amber Moore (12.8 ppg) and Ivory Crawford (12.3 ppg), and Taylor Tuck (9.5 ppg) is close behind. But the production has been inconsistent, as Tuck scored nine at Indiana (2/22), 18 against Michigan (2/16) and nine at Iowa (2/13) had only two at Nebraska (2/27) and didn't play at Minnesota or against Michigan State. Moore had only five against Michigan State, 15 at Minnesota, 11 against Iowa, 19 against Michigan and eight at Indiana, then exploded for 19 at Nebraska. And Crawford has 20 against Michigan State and 18 at Minnesota, but only 12 points total against Iowa and Michigan, 11 at Indiana and 13 at Nebraska. Plus, the Illini's post game - which was flourishing with Jacqui Grant in the middle - has all but disappeared recently as Sarah Livingston had 10 points at Minnesota but is averaging only 3.5 ppg over the last six games.
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 293 turnovers in Big Ten games (19.5 pg), best in the conference by 3.0 turnovers per game. That includes pressuring Wisconsin into 30 miscues, No. 14 Penn State into 27 and forcing 23 by No. 24 Michigan State, the Spartans' most in Big Ten play. UI also forced Michigan into 21 miscues on Feb. 16, the Wolverines' most in Big Ten play and second-most this season. Illinois has caused 20-plus turnovers 16 times. Illinois ranked 10th nationally in steals per game (11.0) and 14th in turnover margin (+5.50 per game) through games of Feb. 27, leading the Big Ten in both categories.
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 20.6 points off turnovers per game, a 5.4-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. However, the Illini have only out-scored three of their last 10 foes in points off turnovers (17-10 vs. Indiana; 19-10 vs. Michigan; 15-14 at Nebraska).
Ivory Initiates Offense: Junior Ivory Crawford has become Illinois' primary offensive option in Big Ten play, especially with Jacqui Grant being sidelined since Feb. 4. She is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring in conference play with 15.5 points per game, and has posted 19 or more points in six 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. For the season, Crawford is averaging 14.6 points per game and has scored in double digits in 23 of 28 contests, with the 25 points against PSU a season high. She also has six 20-point games this year after entering the season with only three in her career.
Crawford Closes In on Milestone: Ivory Crawford needs only six points to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career. The junior from Chicago has 994 career points after scoring 13 at Nebraska on Thursday. She would become only the 15th player in Illinois history to reach 1,000 points in three seasons and the 27th to ever reach the benchmark.
Tuck Takes Off: After struggling for much of the season, junior Taylor Tuck has asserted herself on the offensive end lately, posting a career-high 18 points against Michigan on Feb. 16 and scoring nine each at Indiana (2/22) and at Iowa (2/13). Tuck entered the Iowa game with only 20 points in Illinois' first 11 Big Ten games and didn't play against Michigan State (2/5) or Minnesota (2/9). In the last three games, she has made 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) field goals, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, and 5-of-7 free throws. Prior to those two games, she was 7-of-29 (24.1 percent) in Big Ten play. Tuck had an off night at Nebraska on Thursday, scoring two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 17 minutes.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes are No. 24 in the RPI according to RealTimeRPI.com, with the 41st-best schedule. Iowa is 5-5 against RPI top-50 teams and 10-6 against top-100 squads. The Hawkeyes are 6-4 on the road but 5-2 in road Big Ten games. Their only losses have come in the state of Indiana, losing to the Hoosiers on Jan. 2 and at Purdue on Feb. 16.
Iowa has the 25th-best scoring offense (78.7 points per game) in the nation - and tops in the Big Ten - and also ranks 15th in field-goal percentage (46.1 percent), 11th in assists per game (18.1 apg), and 15th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.28:1). The Hawks' also are 26th in blocked shots per game (4.9).
Junior guard Samantha Logic has three triple-doubles this season: at Purdue (18 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), at Penn State (14 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) and against Drake (12 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists). She ranks fourth nationally in assists (7.6 per game) and also is second in the Big Ten in steals (2.5 spg).
Iowa is one of the most balanced teams in the nation, with five players averaging double figures. Since freshman Ally Disterhoft entered the starting lineup at Ohio State on Jan. 19, all five of the Hawkeyes' starters now average more than 10 points per game, and four players have made more than 25 three-pointers on the season, led by Melissa Dixon's 79.
Series History Against Iowa
Last Meeting With Iowa
The Illini shot just 29.2 percent (7-of-24) in the first half but held the Hawkeyes to 37 percent (10-of-27), including 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) from three-point range and trailed only 29-20 at the break. But Iowa used a 14-6 spurt near the midpoint of the second half to pull away for its 20th win of the season. Illinois held the Hawkeyes to 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range but Iowa out-rebounded the Illini 40-23, including 15 offensive rebounds.