In the midst of their current 10-game losing streak, the Illini have fallen into a pattern of following a weak performance with a strong one, and vice versa. If the trend continues, look for Illinois to put up a much tougher fight against the Hawkeyes than they did Sunday.
Illinois vs. No. 23 Iowa,
1:30 p.m. today
NO. 12 SEED ILLINOIS (9-20)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Ivory Crawford Jr. 5-10 14.4
G Taylor Gleason Fr. 5-8 4.2
G Ashley McConnell Fr. 5-9 2.3
G/F Amber Moore Sr. 5-11 14.9
C Jacqui Grant Fr. 6-3 13.1
FYI: Moore needs three three-pointers to tie Michigan State’s Lindsay Bowen (2003-06) for third place on the Big Ten career list. Moore has 291 treys.
OFF THE BENCH
G Alexis Smith Jr. 5-9 7.2
G/F Taylor Tuck Jr. 6-0 4.6
F Nia Oden Jr. 5-10 2.6
NO. 5 SEED IOWA (23-7)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Samantha Logic Jr. 5-9 14.1
G Melissa Dixon Jr. 5-8 13.2
G Theairra Taylor Sr. 5-11 12.1
G Ally Disterhoft Fr. 6-0 12.8
C Bethany Doolittle Jr. 6-4 13.8
FYI: With five assists last Sunday against Illinois, Logic passed Cara Consuegra (1997-2001) to become the program’s career record-holder with 577.
OFF THE BENCH
F Kali Peschel So. 6-1 4.8
G Alexa Kastanek Fr. 5-10 4.4
F Claire Till So. 6-0 2.5
Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,165), Indianapolis.
Series: Iowa leads 51-17. Last meeting:
Iowa 81, Illinois 56 on March 2 at Champaign.
TV: BTN; Lisa Byington (play-by-play), Stephanie White (analyst), Shelley Till (sideline).
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM, WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst).
FYI: Illinois is 17-19 all time in the Big Ten tournament. Iowa is 17-17.
Jeff Huth’s storylines
1 This is the third matchup between Illinois and Iowa in three weeks and the second in five days. Neither went well for the Illini, who lost by 14 and 25 points. The latter outcome last Sunday got away early from Illinois, which trailed 40-22 at halftime and by as many as 35 points midway through the second half. “It’s a great challenge for us to be a lot better than we were on Sunday,” UI coach Matt Bollant said. “Obviously, Iowa was significantly better than us on Sunday, and see if we can close that gap.” Illinois’ defense had no answer for an Iowa attack that led the Big Ten in scoring (75.5 points) and field goal percentage (47.5) in conference games. On Sunday, the Hawkeyes shot 56.3
percent and made 11 three-pointers in the 81-56 rout. “We have to do a better job of finding
their shooters,” Bollant said. Problem is, that’s a widespread description when it comes to Iowa. Five Hawkeyes are averaging double figures in points.
2 Look for Illinois to make a particular effort to address Iowa’s transition game. On Sunday, the Hawkeyes outscored the Illini 14-2 in fast-break points after ruling that same category 12-0 in the teams’ first meeting this season. “We didn’t do a very good job, especially the first game, (of) getting back,” Bollant said. “I felt like we were a little better the other day, but some turnovers really hurt us that they got some leak-outs off of.”
3 Freshman guard Taylor Gleason has been a bright spot for the Illini in the past two games. The three-time first-team Michigan all-stater scored a career-high 13 points on Feb. 27 at Nebraska and set a career high for assists with eight against Iowa. The latter figure is the second highest by an Illini this season, and Gleason has totaled 14 assists in the last two games. “She can pass the ball,” Bollant said. “She can see the floor and passes it really well.” Since Bollant shook up his lineup in early February, Gleason has started the last seven games. Her performances had been uneven and generally unremarkable until the past week. “I think (it’s) just more confidence,” Bollant said. “She’s coming off the ball screens, being aggressive and seeing the floor a lot more than she did earlier in the year. And just good to see her confidence continue to grow.”
Iowa 71, Illinois 60
In the midst of their current 10-game losing streak, the Illini have fallen into a pattern of following a weak performance with a strong one, and vice versa. If the trend continues, look for Illinois to put up a much tougher fight against the Hawkeyes than they did Sunday. Of course, this could be one of those cases where it’s simply a particularly tough matchup for Illinois and today will be more of the same. Iowa can score with anyone in the country, and an Illini team with defensive issues also lacks the requisite offensive firepower to keep up with the potent Hawkeyes.(N-G prediction record: 24-5)