Big Ten Tourney Notes & Links: Illinois vs. #23 Iowa
March 5, 2014
Illini at Big Ten Tourney: Illinois enters the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 12 seed for the first time in school history. The Illini were the No. 11 seed in 2011, the year before Nebraska entered the Big Ten, and made an impressive run to the semifinals before falling to second-seeded Penn State, 79-64. Illinois is 17-19 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament, advancing to the championship game three times: 1997, 1999 and 2008. Illinois is 4-2 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament over the last six years but has lost its tourney opener the last two seasons.
Crawford, Moore Honored: Junior guard Ivory Crawford was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the conference coaches and media on Monday, while senior guard/forward Amber Moore earned honorable mention laurels from the media. It is the first career All-Big Ten honor for each.
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 at Nebraska on Feb. 27 and against Iowa on Sunday, giving Illinois four different lineups in its last seven 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 356, just two away from breaking Kelly Mazzante's record. Moore is fourth with 291 and Hooper is fifth with 285.
Illini Put on 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 306 turnovers in Big Ten games (19.1 pg), best in the conference by 2.8 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 11th nationally in steals per game (10.8) and 18th in turnover margin (+5.10 per game) through games of March 2, leading the Big Ten in both categories.
Taking Advantage of Turnovers: The Illini have regularly out-scored opponents off turnovers this season, averaging 20.3 points off turnovers per game, a 4.8-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 11 foes in points off turnovers (17-10 vs. Indiana; 19-10 vs. Michigan; 15-14 at Nebraska). And Iowa has out-scored the Illini off turnovers by a combined 46-18 in two meetings this season.
Ivory Initiates Offense: Junior Ivory Crawford has become Illinois' primary offensive option in Big Ten play, especially with Jacqui Grant missing six games in February with mononucleosis. Crawford is 10th in the Big Ten in scoring in conference play with 15.2 points per game, and 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 14.4 points per game and has scored in double digits in 24 of 29 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 Passes Milestone: Ivory Crawford reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career with 10 points against Iowa in the regular-season finale. The junior from Chicago now has 1,004 career points and became 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 five games, she has made 16-of-36 (44.4 percent) field goals, including 4-of-7 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.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes are No. 23 in the official NCAA RPI ranking released on March 3, with the 48th-best schedule according to RealTimeRPI.com. Iowa is 6-5 against RPI top-50 teams and 12-6 against top-100 squads. The Hawkeyes are 10-4 away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena but 6-2 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 24th-best scoring offense (78.8 points per game) in the nation - and tops in the Big Ten - and also ranks 12th in field-goal percentage (46.4 percent), ninth in assists per game (18.2 apg), and 14th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.28:1). The Hawks' also are 23rd in blocked shots per game (5.0).
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 third nationally in assists (7.5 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 82.
Series History Against Iowa
This Season's Meetings With Iowa
Crawford posted her second-straight double-double and third this season, grabbing 10 rebounds - six on the offensive end - to go with her 10 points. And freshman forward Jacqui Grant returned after missing six games with mononucleosis, scoring seven points in 20 minutes.
On Feb. 13, Illinois shot 50 percent from three-point range but turned the ball over 21 times and was out-scored by 26 points in the paint as Iowa took a 69-55 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Freshman guard Ashley McConnell hit 3-of-5 treys, the first three triples of her career, and led the Illini with 13 points. Amber Moore chipped in 11, including 2-of-4 from long range, and made three steals.
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.