Game 12 Notes: Illinois vs. #6/7 Georgia
Dec. 26, 2012
Illini Look to Upend Lady Dogs: Illinois eyes its second-straight victory over a ranked opponent when it faces Georgia on Friday. The Illini topped No. 10 Ohio State 66-65 on Feb. 9, 2012, in Champaign, Illinois' last game against a ranked opponent. That win snapped a 20-game losing streak to ranked foes that dated back to 2008. Illinois is 41-167 all-time against ranked opponents and 28-67 at home.
Offense Thrives Under Bollant: The Illini rank third in the Big Ten in scoring (through games of Dec. 23), averaging 73.6 points per game, and also rank 29th nationally (through games of Dec. 16). Through 11 games, the Orange and Blue are averaging 11.2 ppg more than last season's first 11 games scoring average of 62.4.
A Little Help From Their Friends: Illinois also ranks among the Big Ten and national leaders in assists per game, standing third in the conference (as of Dec. 23) at 16.1 apg and ranking 23rd in the country (as of Dec. 17) at 16.5 apg. The Illini are led by sophomore Alexis Smith's 6.2 assists per game, which is second in the Big Ten and 14th nationally. Junior Amber Moore also ranks 12th in the Big Ten with 3.5 apg, meaning the duo accounts for 59.8 percent of Illinois' assists.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn leads the Big Ten in rebounding and blocked shots, ranks fifth in scoring and field-goal percentage, and is tied for seventh in steals, making her the only player in the conference to rank in the top 10 in all five categories. She also is one of only six players in the country to average at least 19.0 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game. A career 13.9 ppg scorer, Penn is up to 19.2 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 13.8 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 3.1 three-point field goals per game, third-best in the Big Ten, and ranks fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9:1). She also is among conference leaders (top 15) in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played. For more on her strong play this season, see page 5.
Scouting The Lady Bulldogs
The Lady Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference in the preseason conference coaches' poll, behind Kentucky.
Balance has been the key to the Lady Dogs' attack so far this season, as nine players are averaging between 15.7 and 24.6 minutes per game, and Jasmine James' 33-minute outing against Rutgers is the longest by a Georgia player this season. As a result, six Lady Bulldogs are averaging 7.9 points per game or more.
Georgia has made a habit of running opponents out of the gym so far this year, out-scoring foes by an average of 28.1 points per game. The Lady Dogs have had only two games decided by 10 or fewer points: a 60-50 win at Georgia Tech (Dec. 2) and a 57-51 win over Rutgers to open the season (Nov. 11). Georgia has won seven of its 12 games by 30-plus points.
Georgia Series History
Last Meeting with Georgia
Last Time Out: Illinois State
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 six wins and have scored 70-plus points in seven of 11 games to this point, besting the number of times that Illinois reached the 80-point (two) and 70-point (six) marks last season. Illinois also is averaging 78.2 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.