Women's Basketball
WBB Game 11 Notes: #6 Ohio State (13-1) at Illinois (8-2)

Freshman Adrienne Godbold and the Illini open Big Ten play Monday night when Ohio State comes to Assembly Hall.
Freshman Adrienne Godbold and the Illini open Big Ten play Monday night when Ohio State comes to Assembly Hall.

Dec. 26, 2009

Complete Illinois-Ohio State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game 11 - No. 6/6 Ohio State (13-1) at Illinois (8-2)

Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 // 7 p.m. // Assembly Hall (16,618) // Champaign, Ill.

Monday's Promotion
Take A Kid to the Game Night. Kids get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket. One adult ticket equals one free kid ticket. (http://www.takg.com)

On The Air
Streaming Video: BigTenNetwork.com ($2.99)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM-1400 and WDAN AM-1490 (Dave Loane and Mike Koon)
Livestats: fightingillini.com GameTracker

The Series
Ohio State leads 39-17 overall and 13-12 in Champaign
Last meeting: #12/12 Ohio State 70, Illinois 53 on March 6, 2009 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament

The Coaches
Illinois: Jolette Law, 38-38 overall and at Illinois (third season)
OSU: Jim Foster, 698-273 overall (33rd season) and 194-48 at Ohio State (eighth season)

Quick Hits
• The Game: Illinois (8-2) opens Big Ten Conference play by hosting five-time defending champ and sixth-ranked Ohio State (13-1) Monday night at Assembly Hall. The Illini are coming off a 64-50 win over Oakland on Dec. 19, while the Buckeyes routed Western Illinois 99-38 on Dec. 22 in their last game.

• Big Ten Begins: Illinois had won four straight Big Ten openers before falling at home to Purdue last year to open conference play. The Illini are 11-16 all-time in Big Ten openers and 5-8 when opening conference play at home.

• What to Watch For on Monday...
...Jenna Smith's next double-double will be the 41st of her career and will give her sole possession of the UI career double-doubles record.
...Smith is looking for her 50th straight game of scoring in double-figures
...A win by the Illini would be the first over a ranked team since beating #22 Ohio State on March 7, 2008.
...Illinois has not beaten a top-10 team since getting a win against #10 Minnesota on Jan. 26, 2003

• Centers of Attention: Monday's game will feature two of the premier centers in the nation in Illinois senior Jenna Smith and Ohio State junior Jantel Lavender. Both are former All-Americans and Lavender is the two-time defending Big Ten Player of the Year. Here is a side-by-side look at their numbers this season:

Category               Smith         Lavender
Points              21.5 (2/10)     22.4 (1/8)
Rebounds            11.4 (1/7)      9.9 (2/28)
Blocks               2.2 (3/25)    1.2 (11/155)
FG Percentage       .552 (3/35     .545 (4/44)
FT Percentage       .860 (4/64)     .723 (n/a)
Double-Doubles        8 (1/1)        7 (2/3)
10+ Scoring Streak   49 (2/3)        80 (1/1)

*Big Ten/National Rank in parenthesis

• Double Trouble: Smith's eight double-doubles in 10 games this season is tied for tops in the nation according to the Dec. 21 NCAA rankings. With her double-double in the Illini's last game against Oakland Smith tied Jonelle Polk for the the UI career record of 40 and her next one will give her sole possession of the record.

• Getting Defensive: Coach Jolette Law teaches her teams to take pride in defense and this year's Illini look to be buying into that philosophy. The Illini are holding opponents to 31.6 percent shooting from the field, which leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the NCAA. Only top-ranked UConn (31.0) and Savannah State (31.2) have better marks. Illinois also ranks ninth in the nation in blocked shot at 6.4 per game.

• Fast Start: The Illini's non-conference record of 8-2 was the program's best since going 9-2 in 2006-07. Illinois' seven-game winning streak earlier in the season was the longest for a UI team since the 1997-98 Illini won nine straight games.

• Illini vs. Ranked Teams: Illinois will be facing its first ranked opponent this season when #6/6 Ohio State comes to Assembly Hall on Monday. The Illini are looking for their first win over a ranked team since March 7, 2008 when they beat #22 OSU in the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois has not beaten a top-10 team since defeating #10 Minnesota on Jan. 26, 2003 and have not beaten a team ranked as high as the Buckeyes currently are since topping fifth-ranked Georgia on Jan. 2, 2000.

• Fantastic Frosh: Freshmen Karisma Penn and Adrienne Godbold have made a big impact thus far. Penn, a 6-2 forward, is averaging 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and has already picked-up two Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards in the first month of the season. Godbold, a 5-11 guard, scored a career-high 15 points and had three steals in the Illini's recent win over Oakland an is currently averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

• Simpson Does It All: Always known for her defense and versatility, senior Lacey Simpson has diversified her game even more this this year. Her assist-turnover ratio of 2.47 ranks second in the Big Ten and 16th in the nation and she also ranks second in the conference in assists (4.7), third in steals (2.80), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.462), fifth in defensive rebounds (5.30) and sixth field goal percentage (.514).

• Time Change: Illinois' Dec. 31 game against Penn State in Champaign has been picked up for broadcast by the Big Ten Network and will be pushed back one hour to 3 p.m. CT to accommodate a live broadcast. The game was originally set for 2 p.m. and was to be streamed at BigTenNetwork.com.

Scouting the Buckeyes
Ohio State comes to Assembly Hall with a 13-1 record and ranked sixth in both the AP and ESPN Coaches Polls. The Buckeyes' lone loss came at No. 11 Duke on Dec. 3. It will be just their third road game of the season, as they won at Ole Miss in the final seconds in the only other road game besides the Duke loss. Junior center Jantel Lavender has been named Big Ten Player of the Year in each of her first two seasons and is putting up big numbers again with averages of 22.4 points and 9.9 rebounds. Sophomore Samantha Prahalis is one of the top point guards in the country, leading the nation at 9.2 assists per game while also scoring 13.9 points per game. Ohio State's other three starters are all averaging eight or more points per game, with junior Brittany Johnson shooting a remarkable 54.4 percent (31-of-57) from three-point range. OSU has won five consecutive Big Ten titles and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight last year. They were picked as the Big Ten's preseason favorite once again this year.

• The Illinois-Ohio State Series: Ohio State owns a 39-17 advantage in the all-time series, including three wins from last season. Illinois last beat Ohio State at home on Jan. 31, 2008 with a 68-64 win. The most recent Illini win over OSU was in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Big Ten Tournament, 64-58.

Watch Out for Jenna
• National Radar: Senior center Jenna Smith, a former All-American and two-time first team All-Big Ten honoree, was named to four preseason national award watch lists heading into this season. Smith is a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy, which all go to the Division I player of the Year. She is also up for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the student-athlete on and off the court.

• Rare Company: Smith ranks seventh in the NCAA in rebounding (11.5) and 10th in scoring (21.4), making her one of just two players in the nation to rank in the top-10 in both categories (Middle Tennessee State's Alysha Clark is the other). Smith is also tied for the NCAA lead with eight double-doubles and ranks 25th in the nation in blocks at 2.2 per game.

• Cleaning the Glass: With 114 rebounds through the first 10 games this season, Smith has upped her career total to 944 and has moved into second on the UI career rebounding list. She needs 71 rebounds to pass Cindy Dallas' total of 1,014 and become Illinois' all-time rebounding leader. Smith leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in the nation with her 11.4 rebounds per game.

• Record Breaker: Smith has 1,760 career points to rank fourth on the UI career scoring list. She is 146 points behind Lisa Robinson's third-place total of 1,906 and is 330 points shy of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois career scoring record of 2,089 points. With a minimum of 19 games left this season, Smith needs to average 17.4 points per game the rest of the way to become the school's all-time scoring leader.

Smith already has the UI career blocked shots record of 183 and is tied for the career double-doubles mark with a chance to finish atop several more categories before her career comes to a close. Take a look at Illinois records Smith has a chance to break this season:

Smith in the Illini Record Book

Stat            Total    Rank    Record    Needs 
Blocks           183      1       183        0
Double-Doubles    40      1t       40        1
Rebounds         944      2      1,014      71
Points          1,760     4      2,089     330
FG Made          669      4t      815      148
• Miss Consistency: Smith has extended her school-record streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 49 this season. That streak is the third-longest current streak in the nation behind only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender (80) and Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley (69). The streak started on Feb. 28, 2008, during her sophomore season and continued through all of last season. In all, Smith has scored in double-figures in 77 of the last 78 games, with only a six-point outing against Michigan on Feb. 24, 2008, getting in the way of a 78-game streak.

Current Consecutive Games of 10+ points
(through games of Dec. 25)

Rk Player, School                   Streak
1. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State        80
2. Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State       69
3. Jenna Smith, Illinois              49
4. Dawn Evans, James Madison          41
5. Alysha Clark, MTSU                 35
   Chastity Reed, Arkansas-LR         35
• Block Party in the USA: Smith has etched her named at the top of every blocked shots category in the Illinois record book. She became Illinois' career blocks leader near the end of her junior season, holds the top two spots on the single-season blocks list (63 in 2008-09 and 59 in 2007-08) and is tied atop the single-game blocks list with her two six-block performances this season (11/28 at Cal Poly and 12/9 vs. Marquette).

• Player of the Week: Smith earned back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Week honors on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7. The latter honor was after her 27 point, nine rebound, three block performance in Illinois' comeback win at Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. She was also named the conference's Player of the Week on Nov. 30 after averaging 20.3 points and 13.0 rebounds in three Illinois victories. She was named MVP of the Cal Poly Holiday Beach Classic after leading Illinois to the tournament crown with 28 points and 17 rebounds in the title game vs. Alabama. Smith has been honored five times as the conference's Player of the Week, which ties her for the most in school history with Ashley Berggren.

• Big Ten Leader: With 1,760 career points and 944 career rebounds, Smith is the Big Ten Conference's active leader in both stat categories.

Simpson Steals the Show
• Winging It: Senior forward Lacey Simpson is thriving at her natural wing position after playing power forward last season with the Illini's limited roster. She's taking her habit of filling the stat sheet to another level as she's averaging 8.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game, all while usually guarding the top offensive player from the opposing team. She is second in the Big Ten and ranks 16th in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (2.47) and ranks in the top-five in the conference in five categories (Assist/TO Ratio, steals, assists, 3FG percentage and defensive rebounds).

• Outside Improvement: Known primarily for her defense, Simpson worked hard on her offensive game in the offseason, particularly her outside shot. That work has paid off thus far, as she's shooting 51.4 percent from the field (38-of-74) and 46.2 percent from downtown (12-of-26). Simpson made just eight threes last season and shot 22 percent from behind the arc (8-of-37).

• Stop, Thief!: Simpson led the Big Ten and ranked ninth in the nation in steals, averaging 3.13 per game last season. She became the first Illinois player named to the Big Ten's All-Defensive Team since the honor began in 2005-06. So far this year, she is averaging 2.80 steals per game, which ranks third in the conference and 47th in the nation.

Simpson is already the school's all-time leader in steals with 283. Her season total of 97 steals in 2008-09 ranks No. 2 on the UI single-season list and her nine steals vs. IPFW on 11/14/08 set a new career-high and equaled the second most in a game in school history.

• She Did What?: It's not unusual for senior Simpson to put up a double-double (she had 10 last season and has 15 for her career), but the way she did it on Nov. 18 against CMU certainly was. Simpson collected 16 rebounds and dished out 11 assists in the UI victory. Only an off shooting night (1-8, 2 points) prevented her from getting the second triple-double in school history. In fact, Simpson's feat marked the only time besides Kim Brombolich's triple-double in 1982 that an Illini player posted double-figures in two statistical categories other than points.

• College Grad: Simpson, a fifth-year senior, earned her bachelor's degree in sport management last May and is currently pursuing a master's degree in human resource education as she completes her final year of athletic eligibility.

Illinois in the NCAA Rankings
In the most recent NCAA rankings (Dec. 21) Illinois ranks in the national top-25 in three categories, while Fighting Illini individuals crack the top-100 in 10 categories, including three in the top-10 as Jenna Smith is first in double-doubles, seventh in rebounding and 10th in scoring. Here is the list...

Team Category           Rank    Stat    
FG Percentage Defense     3     .316
Blocked Shots             9      6.4
Field Goal Percentage    25     .452

Indiv. Category Player Rank Stat Double-doubles Jenna Smith 1 8 Rebounds per game Jenna Smith 7 11.4 Points per game Jenna Smith 10 21.5 Assist-TO ratio Lacey Simpson 16 2.47 Blocks per game Jenna Smith 25 2.2 Blocks per game Karisma Penn 34 2.0 FG Percentage Jenna Smith 35 .552 Steals per game Lacey Simpson 47 2.8 FT Percentage Jenna Smith 64 .860 Assists per game Lacey Simpson 67 4.7

Comeback Kids
The Fighting Illini posted come-from-behind victories in four straight games from Nov. 24-Dec. 2, including overcoming 15-point and 17-point second half deficits against Alabama and Wake Forest, respectively. Against the Crimson Tide on Nov. 29, the Illini trailed 49-34 with 15:25 remaining before closing the game on a 30-6 run and pulling away for a nine-point win. Then Dec. 2 at Wake Forest, Illinois trailed 36-19 with 18:32 to play and then went on a 25-2 run to take control of the game, eventually pulling away for a 15-point win. See the chart below for details on Illinois' impressive closing runs.
Game              SH Deficit    Time     Closing Run     Final
at Illinois St.      7          20:00       38-20        62-51
at Cal Poly          7          10:08       22-6         56-47
vs. Alabama         15          15:25       30-6         64-55
at Wake Forest      17          18:32       46-14        65-50
No Sophomore Slump
There was a lot of talk about Illinois' talented freshman class heading into this season, but thus far, the sophomore class and second-year transfer Whitney Toone have proven they shouldn't be overlooked. Toone recently moved into the starting line up and has provided a big spark off the bench with her defensive intensity, particularly against Alabama on Nov. 29 (career-high three steals, five offensive rebounds, four points and three assists). In addition, sophomore's Macie Blinn and Fabiola Josil have been very effective as of late. Blinn is hitting 41 percent from three-point range this season and Josil has provided steady ball handling and leadership at the point.

Fresh Impact
This year's highly-touted freshman class was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation coming out of high school. The frosh have lived up to their billing so far, as they've combined to average 23.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Orange and Blue, even without Amber Moore (ACL injury) and Destiny Williams (indefinite leave of absence) making an impact. Here's a closer look at the impact the other four freshmen are making:

Karisma Penn has started all 10 games and is averaging 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. She has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice already, most recently on Dec. 7 after going for 15 points and five rebounds at Wake Forest. She also took home the accolade on Nov. 23 after putting up 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks against CMU on Nov. 18 before dropping a career-high 21 points against Bradley. Her presence inside is taking some pressure away from All-American center Jenna Smith.

Adrienne Godbold has played big minutes in all 10 games and started four. She is averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, but more importantly is active defensively. She broke out for 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and tied her career-high with three steals against Oakland.

Kersten Magrum has played 100 minutes in the first 10 games (10.0 mpg) and is contributing 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. She scored her career-high of seven points all in the first half of the Nov. 28 win at Cal Poly.

Brianna Jones played 26 minutes during the first three games and chipped in 3.0 points and 1.0 rebounds per game while hitting 3-of-6 from the field. She has missed the last seven games with an Achilles injury but is hoping to return to action soon.