Game 13 Notes & Links: Illinois at #19/18 Georgia
Dec. 26, 2013
UI Looks for Win Over Ranked Foe: Illinois aims for its first win over a ranked opponent when it faces No. 19 Georgia on Saturday, having lost to No. 11 North Carolina and No. 11 Colorado earlier in the season. Head coach Matt Bollant is 2-5 against ranked foes at Illinois, having beaten No. 6 Georgia and No. 24 Iowa last season. The Illini are 43-169 all-time against ranked foes and 9-79 on the road. Illinois is searching for its first road win over a ranked opponent since 2004 (71-65 in OT over No. 21 Louisiana Tech, 12/4/04).
Illini Beat Skyhawks to Enter Holiday on High Note: Illinois started hot against UT Martin on Dec. 21 and held off a second-half rally by the Skyhawks to win, 77-62, and increase their State Farm Center winning streak to eight games. With the Illini leading 6-0, Amber Moore rained three consecutive threes and scored UI's next 11 points staking the Orange and Blue to a 12-point lead. Illinois led by nine at halftime but UT Martin cut the margin to three with a 10-4 run after intermission. Sarah Livingston hit consecutive jumpers to push the lead back to seven, and UT Martin pulled within four three separate times, including at the 12:29 mark, but the Illini used a 17-0 run over 4:18 to go ahead 73-51 and never look back.
Senior Continues to #ScoreMoore: Senior Amber Moore was recognized by the Big Ten for the second-straight week on Dec. 23, earning mention on the weekly Honor Roll thanks to her 26-point performance that led Illinois to a 15-point win over UT Martin on Dec. 21. Moore was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 16 after serving as catalyst of the come-from-behind win over Seton Hall on Dec. 9. The senior scored 22 of her 24 points in the second half, including shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. With 43 seconds remaining, Moore made the game-tying trey to cap a 25-5 Illinois run. Her 11 rebounds resulted in her second double-double of the season and third in her career. It was Moore's second player of the week honor this season.
Historic Comeback: On Dec. 9 vs. Seton Hall, the Illini came back from a 20-point deficit with 8:45 remaining in the game to defeat Seton Hall, 71-70. The Pirates also led by 12 with 3:10 remaining but went 1-for-6 from the field and committed three turnovers down the stretch. Illini junior Nia Oden grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with five seconds left. She then made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Illini the lead and Hall's Ka-Deidre Simmons' running three-pointer rattled off, sealing UI's win. The Illini had 11 steals and forced 15 turnovers in the second half, shooting 48.5 percent from the field. Illinois closed the game on a 15-2 run.
Illini Scoring with the Best of Them: While Illinois' offensive production has slowed a bit against stiffer competition lately, the Illini still rank fourth in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 76.3 points per game. The Orange and Blue have topped 80 points four times - after accomplishing the feat only six times in 2012-13 - and have reached 70 points in eight of 12 games. Illinois is 7-1 when breaking the 70-point barrier.
Moore B1G POW: Senior guard/forward Amber Moore was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time on Nov. 18 after averaging 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game in three Illini wins the previous week. She dominated against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 14, scoring 27 and pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds, scored 23 and hauled in seven boards against Valparaiso on Nov. 12, and capped the week with a 25-point performance in only 23 minutes against Alcorn State on Nov. 21. It was Moore's first career weekly honor.
Moore An All-Around Threat: Senior Amber Moore has 44 three-pointers on the season, 56.4 percent of the Illini's total treys, and no other player has more than nine triples this season. But Moore isn't just a long-range gunner. She also has the second-most free throws on the team, making 28-of-31 (.903) from the line, and ranks second on the team with 6.5 rebounds per game. She also is averaging 2.0 steals and 1.9 assists per game.
Starters Carry Scoring Load: Illinois has four starters averaging double figures, with Alexis Smith, who returned to the starting lineup at the Cancun Challenge after recovering from a stress fracture, at 8.1 ppg. With the squad averaging 76.3 points per game, the starters are scoring 82.5 percent of the points.
Fearsome Foursome Leads the Way: Amber Moore has registered double figures in each of the Illini's first 12 games and has six 20-point efforts. Jacqui Grant has posted double figures 10 times, Ivory Crawford nine and Sarah Hartwell seven. Moore is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring average (19.0 ppg), Grant is 20th (13.3) and Crawford is 26th (12.7 ppg).
Crawford Producing Consistently: While she may be overshadowed by Amber Moore's blisteringly hot start to the season, Ivory Crawford has been a consistent presence for the Illini. The junior guard is averaging 12.7 points per game and has scored in double digits nine times, with a season high of 24 against Bradley on Nov. 8. She also is averaging 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals in 27.3 minutes per game.
Grant Will Not Surrender: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant has started her Illini career on a strong note, averaging 13.3 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game - which is ranked 12th in the Big Ten - over the first 12 games, including double-doubles against Georgia Tech and Bradley. The Park Ridge, Ill., native scored 12 points and pulled down 14 boards, including 10 offensive rebounds, in 27 minutes against the Braves. Her 10 offensive boards are tied for fourth-most in a game in school history. She had 14 points and 11 rebounds at Georgia Tech and went for 20 points (including 15 in the first half) and seven boards at No. 11 Colorado. Grant is replacing Karisma Penn in the middle, who finished second in school history with 42 career double-doubles and had 14 last season.
Scouting the Lady Bulldogs
The Lady Bulldogs are 8-0 at home this season, including a four-point win over Ohio State on Nov. 17 and a seven-point victory over Georgia Tech on Nov. 24.
While there are a few familiar names on the Georgia roster from when it traveled to Champaign last season, the Lady Bulldogs have had quite a bit of roster turnover as they lost five seniors to graduation and returned 43 percent of games started from last year and 51.6 percent of points.
Georgia is led by Tiaria Griffin's 13.9 points per game, despite the fact that Griffin has played primarily off the bench, averaging 23.9 minutes per game. Shacobia Barbee is next with 12.0 points per game, Khaalidah Miller is at 11.3 ppg and Erika Ford averages 10.1 ppg. Barbee leads the Lady Bulldogs with 8.5 rebounds per game.
Georgia has gotten it done on defense, holding opponents to 49.5 points per game on 32.0 percent shooting. The Lady Bulldogs' opponents also are shooting only 28.7 percent from three-point range. Georgia holds a rebounding advantage of of 9.7 rebounds per game and are forcing 20.1 turnovers per game while committing only 15.7 itself.
UGA is a traditional power in the women's game, having been ranked in 506 of 582 weekly Associated Press polls (86.9 percent) since 1981-82.
Georgia head coach Andy Landers is a southern institution, holding an 834-276 record in 35 years at UGA, an incredible .752 winning percentage. The Lady Bulldogs have 34 consecutive winning seasons, have been NCAA runners-up twice, have reached five Final Fours and have 30 NCAA Tournament berths. Landers has led them to seven SEC titles and has produced 16 WNBA draft picks in the last 13 years.
Series History Against Georgia
Last Meeting with Georgia
The Illini jumped out to a 31-13 lead against the Lady Bulldogs and used a 13-5 run in the second half that turned a tie game into a 65-52 Illinois advantage with 3:20 remaining. The Orange and Blue forced 26 turnovers and outscored Georgia 32-18 in the paint while out-rebounding the Lady Bulldogs 42-41. The key was Illinois' defense in the second half, holding Georgia to 30 points on 29 percent shooting after halftime.