Game 6 Notes: Wake Forest (2-4) at Illinois (3-2)
Game 6 - Wake Forest (2-4) at Illinois (3-2)Thursday, Nov. 29 // 7 p.m. CT // Assembly Hall (16,618) // Champaign, Ill.
ON THE AIR:Radio: Live on the Illini Sports Network (WDWS-AM 1400, Champaign // WDAN AM-1490, Danville)and fightingillini.com (subscription), Dave Loane (PBP) and Mike Koon (analyst)
TV/Video: BTN.com , Zach Groth (play-by-play), Matt Maniscalco (analyst) and Jamal Collier (sideline)
Live Stats: Mobile Stats
THE SERIES: Illinois leads 1-0 Last Meeting: Illinois 65, Wake Forest 50 (Dec. 2, 2009)
THE COACHES:Illinois: Matt Bollant, 3-2 at Illinois (1st year), 285-57 overall (11th year) Wake Forest: Jen Hoover, 2-4 at Wake Forest (1st year), 22-13 overall (2nd year)
ILLINOIS HOSTS ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGEIllinois is participating in the sixth-annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Thursday when it hosts Wake Forest. This year, fans can follow news from the entire event on Twitter by using the hashtag #WACCB1G.
The game marks the beginning of a tough stretch for the Illini during which they play two games in three days, three in seven days and four in 11 days.
The ACC is 4-0-1 in the short history of the challenge, winning the inaugural event, 8-3, in 2007, going 7-4 in 2008 and 2009, and 6-5 in 2010. Last year, the conferences tied at six wins apiece.
Illinois is 2-3 all-time in the Challenge after winning at Clemson, 61-50, last year. Illinois' only other victory came at Wake Forest in 2009 when the Illini topped the Demon Deacons 65-50 in Winston-Salem. The Illini have lost to N.C. State twice (61-47 in 2007 and 73-57 in 2010) and at home to Virginia (63-39 in 2008).
Last year, Karisma Penn had 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win at Clemson. The Illini closed the contest on a 21-7 run, which included a 10-0 stretch that lasted nearly eight minutes.
2012 ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE SCHEDULEWednesday, Nov. 28
#16 Ohio State at #25 North Carolina
Iowa at Florida State
Wisconsin at Virginia Tech
#4 Duke at Michigan
Georgia Tech at #14 Purdue
Clemson at Indiana
#10 Maryland at #23 Nebraska
Thursday, Nov. 29
ILLINI WELL-REPRESENTED IN FIRST NCAA STATSIllinois is ranked high in several national statistical categories, which the NCAA released this week for the first time this season. As a team, Illinois is ninth in assists per game (19.6) and 22nd in assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
Individually, junior Amber Moore is fifth nationally in three-point field goals made per game (3.6) and sixth in assist/turnover ratio (4.0).
Senior Karisma Penn ranks 14th in blocked shots per game (3.2), 34th in rebounds per game (10.6) and 16th in double-doubles (3).
Sophomore Alexis Smith is 11th in assists per game (6.8).
Last Meeting with Wake ForestIllinois overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat Wake Forest, 65-50, in the teams' only other meeting on Dec. 2, 2009. All-American center Jenna Smith had 27 points and nine rebounds for the Illini, who won for the seventh-straight time. Illinois also shot 68 percent in the second half (13-of-19) compared to just 17.6 percent for the Demon Deacons (6-for-35).
SCOUTING WAKE FORESTWake Forest is 2-4 on the season and has lost four straight. The Demon Deacons went 0-3 at very tough Paradise Jam tournament on the Virgin Islands, losing games to nationally-ranked Connecticut (95-34) and Purdue (67-53), as well as highly-regarded Marist (81-66).
Wake Forest started the season 2-0 with wins over Coppin State and UNC Wilmington before dropping four in a row at Kansas and against UConn, Purdue and Marist in the Paradise Jam event.
Wake Forest is averaging 58.8 points per game and is led in scoring by Chelsea Douglas' 13.0 points per game. The Demon Deacons are shooting just 37.9 percent from the field and just 57.5 from the line.
Wake Forest is coming off a 20-14 season, finishing seventh in the ACC. The Demon Deacons advanced to the second round of the WNIT, defeating Charlotte, 72-61, before falling to James Madison, 84-76 in OT.
BOLLANT PERFECT AGAINST THE ACCIllinois head coach Matt Bollant is 3-0 against the ACC with all three meetings coming as the head coach of Green Bay. Bollant has victories over Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), and Virginia.
ILLINOIS FLEXING OFFENSIVE MUSCLESThrough five games, Illinois is averaging 75.2 points per game, which ranks second in the Big Ten (only to Northwestern's 77.0) and 33rd in the country.
Illinois is on pace for its best scoring season since the Illini averaged 76.2 points per game in 1999-2000, the year of the school's last NCAA victory. The Illini have not averaged 70 points per game since 2002-03, its last trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois has also reached the 80-point plateau in each of its three victories. Last season the Illini reached 70 points just six times and 80 just twice.
PENN OFF TO FAST START Illinois forward Karisma Penn is a two-time All-Big Ten selection, but is looking for first-team all-conference accolades this year. Penn is off to a great start to that end, posting a 25-point, 11-rebound effort vs. Tulsa in the opening game of the Junkanoo Jam last weekend after going for 29 points and 16 rebounds against Bradley on Nov. 15. Penn is averaging a double-double on the season, 18.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding and ranks second in blocked shots (3.2 bpg) and fifth in scoring.
Penn's 29 points are tied for the third-most in a game among conference players. Only Minnesota's Rachel Banham, pouring in 34 vs. Washington State, and Illini teammate Ivory Crawford, who had 32 vs. Cleveland State, have more.
Penn has scored in double figures in 76 of her 101 collegiate games. She had 25 points vs. Tulsa, which marked her 25th game with at least 20 points. Penn reached the 20-point mark just twice in all of 2011-12 with a pair of 21-point games, but has two such performances in her first five games this year.
The 29 points vs. Bradley were the third-most by Penn in her career. She tallied 30 points vs. Cal Poly on Nov. 22, 2010, and 33 vs. Michigan on Feb. 20, 2011.
Penn has moved into 11th on the Illinois career scoring list with 1,424. She needs 79 points to pass Tauja Catchings (1,502) for 10th on the list.
Penn's 27 field-goal attempts vs. Bradley were one off the Assembly Hall record by an Illini.
SMITH GIVES TEAM STRONG POINT GUARDIllinois head coach Matt Bollant has said that Alexis Smith has the potential to be the best point guard in the Big Ten. Last year, Smith played in 19 games and scored only 19 points while amassing five assists. This year, Smith has emerged as force on both ends of the floor.
After suffering through some foul difficulty in the opener, Smith had 10 points and eight assists with five turnovers vs. Bradley on Nov. 15.
Smith had 13 assists and four turnovers vs. Cleveland State on Nov. 18. The 13 assists are tied for the third-most in a game in school history.
For the season, Smith has 34 assists and 24 turnovers. Her 6.8 assists per game are second in the Big Ten and 11th in the country.
In addition to Smith, junior teammate Amber Moore has been proficient at dishing the rock, tallying 24 assists to just six turnovers, which is tops in the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the nation.