After a 14-assist performance against Wake Forest, Alexis Smith leads the nation with 8.0 assists per game.
Nov. 30, 2012
|Game 7: Illinois (4-2) vs. Colorado (5-0)|
|When||Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 | 1 p.m. CT|
|Location||Champaign, Ill. | Assembly Hall (16,618)|
|Tickets||$5 | Call 1-866-ILLINI-1 or purchase at the door|
|Streaming Video||BTN.com | All-Access Sign-up
|Radio||WDWS AM-1400 (Champaign-Urbana) & WDAN AM-1490 (Danville) | Listen|
|Live Stats||Gametracker | Mobile Stats|
|Printable Game Notes||Illinois | Colorado | Big Ten|
|Season Stats||Illinois | Colorado | Big Ten|
|Social Media||@IlliniWBB | #Illini | Facebook | YouTube|
Illinois Welcomes Buffaloes to the Hall
Winners of three of its last four games, Illinois hosts undefeated Colorado (5-0) Saturday at 1 p.m. The Illini are coming off their top scoring output since 2010 and best against a BCS opponent since 2001 in the 95-82 win over Wake Forest on Thursday.
Saturday's game marks the second game in three days for the Illini. It's also part of a stretch during which Illinois has three games in seven days and four in 11 days.
Illinois has topped 80 points in all four of its wins and has scored 70-plus points in five games. Last season, the Illini reached 80 points twice and 70 only six times.
The Illini's hot scoring start marks the first time since the Big Ten championship and NCAA Sweet Sixteen season of 1996-97 that the Illini have broken 80 in at least four of its first six games of a season. The '96-97 squad topped 80 in five of its first six games.
Scouting The Buffs
Colorado has jumped out to a 5-0 start to the season, with wins over Wyoming, San Diego State, Idaho, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Missouri-Kansas City. The Buffaloes are averaging 71.6 points per game while allowing opponents only 56.0.
Colorado has played some impressive defense early in the season, holding opponents to 35 percent shooting, averaging 12.0 steals per game and recording a +3.6 turnover margin.
The Buffs have been dominant inside, out-rebounding their opponents by 11.4 per game. They also have shot only 66 3-pointers, making 20 (30.3 percent), compared to Illinois' 43-of-142 (30.3) effort on the season.
Colorado went 21-14 last year, including a 6-12 mark and a 10th-place finish in its first season in the Pac-12, reaching the WNIT quarterfinals before falling to Oklahoma State. The Buffs return four starters from 2011-12 and nine of 11 letterwinners.
Last Meeting with Colorado
Illinois withstood a furious second-half rally to eke out a 63-59 win at Colorado on Dec. 4, 2010, thanks to Karisma Penn's 17 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, and three steals. The Illini led by as many as 11 with 8:15 remaining, but the Buffaloes tore off a 13-0 run to grab a two-point lead with 3:24 left. But Illinois held CU to just two free throws over the game's final minutes and used a turnaround jumper from Penn and 6-of-8 free-throw shooting down the stretch for the win.
Illini Well-Represented in First NCAA Stats
Illinois is ranked high in several national statistical categories, which the NCAA released on Nov. 27 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).
Bollant Perfect Against Pac-12
Illinois head coach Matt Bollant is 2-0 against the Pac-12 in his career with both meetings coming as the head coach of Green Bay. Bollant has victories over Arizona and Utah.
Illini Flexing Their Offensive Muscles
Through six games, Illinois is averaging 78.5 points per game, which leads the Big Ten (through Thursday's games) and ranked 33rd in the country as of Nov. 26.
Although it's early, Illinois is on pace for its best scoring season since the Illini averaged 76.2 points per game in 1999-2000, the year of UI's last NCAA victory. The Illini have not averaged 70 points per game since 2002-03, their last trip to the NCAA Tournament.
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, dropping 30 points on Wake Forest (11/29), 29 on Bradley (11/15) and 25 on Tulsa (11/23), and recording four double-doubles in six games so far.
Penn is averaging a double-double on the season, 20.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding, and ranks second in scoring and blocked shots (2.7 bpg).
Penn's 30- and 29-point performances are tied for the third- and fourth-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 77 of her 102 collegiate games. She had 30 points vs. Tulsa, which marked her 26th career 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 three such performances already this year.
The 30 points against Wake Forest tied the second-most in Penn's career. She also tallied 30 points vs. Cal Poly on Nov. 22, 2010, and had 33 vs. Michigan on Feb. 20, 2011.
Penn has moved into 11th on the Illinois career scoring list with 1,454. She needs 49 points to pass Tauja Catchings (1,502) for 10th on the list.
Penn's 27 field-goal attempts against Bradley were one shy of the Assembly Hall record by an Illini.
Smith Shores Up Point Guard Spot
Illinois 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.
Smith had a career night dishing the ball in Illinois' 95-82 win over Wake Forest on Nov. 29, totaling a career-high 14 assists while committing only three turnovers. Her 14 helpers mark the third-most in a game in school history.
Smith had 13 assists and four turnovers vs. Cleveland State on Nov. 18. The 13 assists are tied for the fourth-most in a game in school history.
For the season, Smith has 48 assists and 27 turnovers. She leads the nation with 8.0 assists per game.
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.
Crawford Scores in Bunches
Ivory Crawford has led Illinois in scoring twice, including a 32-point outburst against Cleveland State on Nov. 18.
Against Cleveland State, Crawford was 11-of-14 from the field, 4-of-4 from three-point range, and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Crawford posted a 26-point outing against Wake Forest on Nov. 29 on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Last year, Crawford averaged 6.6 points per game and reached double figures nine times. She has been in double figures in five of six games this year.
Illini Put Together Bomb Squad
Three-point shooting has been a big focus for the Illini so far in 2012-13, as they have attempted over 20 3s in all six games and have made eight or more in three games. Illinois only made eight 3s once last season and attempted more than 20 only once.
Illinois made 11 three-pointers (11-25) in the 84-52 victory over Evansville on Nov. 11, tied for third-most in a game in school history and the most in nearly nine years. The Illini made 12 treys in an 80-68 victory over Auburn on Dec. 29, 2003, and a 106-74 victory over Providence on Nov. 29, 1997. Illinois also sank 11 3-pointers in a 75-73 victory over Arizona on Dec. 8, 2002.
A total of six different Illinois players made threes in that game.
The Illini also made 9-of-24 three-pointers against Cleveland State and 8-of-23 against Wake Forest.