Game 11 Notes: Illinois (6-4) vs. Illinois State (6-4)
Dec. 19, 2012
Illini Aim for Winning Streak: Illinois looks for its first three-game winning streak of 2012-13 when it hosts Illinois State on Friday. The Illini's 80-62 win over Oregon on Dec. 12 gave the Orange and Blue back-to-back wins for the second time this season.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini took over the Big Ten scoring lead this week, averaging 74.2 points per game, and also ranks 29th nationally (through games of Dec. 16). Through 10 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 12.3 ppg more than last season's first 10 games scoring average of 61.9.
A Little Help From Their Friends: Illinois also ranks among the Big Ten and national leaders in assists per game, sharing the conference lead and ranking 23rd in the country (as of Dec. 17) at 16.5 apg. The Illini are led by sophomore Alexis Smith's 6.4 assists per game, which is second in the Big Ten and 14th nationally. Junior Amber Moore also ranks 12th in the Big Ten with 3.7 apg, meaning the duo accounts for 61.2 percent of Illinois' assists.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding, ranks second in blocked shots, fourth in scoring and field-goal percentage and tied for seventh in steals, making her the only player in the conference to rank in the top 10 in all five categories. A career 13.9 ppg scorer, Penn is up to 18.9 ppg so far this year. For more on Penn's strong start to her final season, see page 4.
Moore is Better: Junior guard Amber Moore also has increased her productivity under first-year head coach Matt Bollant, averaging 13.9 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 3.2 three-point field goals per game, second-best in the Big Ten, and ranks fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9:1). She also is among conference leaders in scoring, assists, steals, defensive rebounds and minutes played. For more on her strong play this season, see page 5.
Scouting The Redbirds
The Redbirds were picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference in the preseason conference coaches' poll, behind Creighton and Wichita State.
ISU has been bolstered by a pair of transfers in guard Jamie Russell and forward Janae Smith. Russell, who transferred from Wisconsin and sat out the 2010-11 season, and Smith, who sat out last season after transferring from College of Charleston, are averaging a combined 30.8 points per game and 14.6 rebounds per game, each playing more than 31 minutes per game.
Illinois has one common opponent with Redbirds in Memphis. ISU lost to Memphis in Normal, Ill., 76-74, on Nov. 18, while the Illini won at Memphis, 73-65, on Dec. 9. However, Memphis had the services of starting guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir against ISU and she scored nine points and dished six assists in that game. Abdul-Qaadir missed the Illinois game after suffering a broken hand on Nov. 21.
Illinois State Series History
Last Meeting with Illinois State
Last Time Out: Oregon
Illini in NCAA Stats
Sophomore Alexis Smith is 14th in the nation in assists per game (6.4). In addition, her 14 assists against Wake Forest (Nov. 29), are tied for the most in a game in the nation this year, and her 13 dimes against Cleveland State on Nov. 18 are tied for the third-most in the country.
Junior Amber Moore is 11th nationally in three-point field goals made per game (3.2) and 46th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.95:1).
Senior Karisma Penn ranks 25th nationally in blocked shots per game (2.5), 17th in double-doubles (5), 33rd in points per game (19.1) and 42nd in field-goal percentage (53.1 percent).
Illinois Flexing Its Offensive Muscles
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 Tournament victory. The Illini have not averaged 70 points per game since 2002-03, their last trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Orange and Blue have topped 80 points in five of their wins and have scored 70-plus points in seven of 10 games to this point, besting the number of times that Illinois reached the 70-point mark last season (six). Also last year, the Illini reached 80 only twice. Illinois also is averaging 79.5 points per game against teams outside the Big 12 Conference after scoring 56 against Texas Tech and 50 against Iowa State.
Included in that is a 95-point outburst against Wake Forest on Nov. 29, the highest scoring output against a BCS conference opponent since dropping 96 on Ohio State on Feb. 13, 2002.
Penn Off to Fast Start
Penn is one of only nine players in the nation to average at least 18.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. Below is a complete list sorted by points per game:
Penn is nearly averaging a double-double on the season, 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding, ranks second in blocked shots (2.5 per game), fourth in field-goal percentage (53.1 percent), fourth in scoring, tied for seventh in steals (2.1 per game) and is tied for ninth in minutes played (34.7 per game).
Penn's 30- and 29-point performances are the sixth- and seventh-most in a game among Big Ten players.
Penn has scored in double figures in 82 of her 106 collegiate games (77.3 percent). She had 21 points at Memphis (12/9), which marked her 25th career game with at least 20 points. Penn reached the 20-point mark seven times in all of 2011-12, but has four 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 passed Illini great Sarah Sharp for ninth place on the Illinois career scoring list as her 17 points against Oregon gave her 1,521 career points. Next up is a trio of top scorers in Illini history: Kendra Gantt (1,526) in eighth, Allison Curtin (1,529) in seventh and Mandy Cunningham (1,536) in sixth.
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
She recorded her fourth double-digit scoring game with 14 points against Oregon while also grabbing six rebounds, dishing six assists and recording three steals. Smith had a career-high 17 points against Colorado, 15 against Tulsa and 10 against Bradley.
Smith came up big in the clutch for the Illini at Memphis, sinking 5-of-6 free throws in the final 2:11 to help seal the victory. She finished with nine points and a career-high nine rebounds.
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 and are tied for the most in a game in the nation this year.
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 and the third-most in a game in the country this year.
For the season, Smith has 64 assists and 49 turnovers. She ranks second in the Big Ten and is 14th in the nation (as of Dec. 16) with 6.4 assists per game.
Crawford Scores in Bunches
Last year, Crawford averaged 6.6 points per game and reached double figures nine times. She has been in double figures in eight of 10 games this year.
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.
Moore Cranks It Up in Junior Season
Moore ranks third on the team and 14th in the Big Ten in scoring with 13.9 points per game, and her 3.2 three-pointers per game rank second in the league. She entered the season averaging 9.2 ppg and 1.92 three-pointers per game.
Moore has been proficient at finding open teammates and protecting the basketball, tallying 37 assists to just 19 turnovers, giving her a 1.9:1 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranks fourth in the Big Ten.
Moore also has been one of the most durable Illini, averaging a team-best 36.0 minutes per game, an improvement of eight minutes per game. She ranks fifth in the category in the Big Ten.