HQ forecast: Purdue 67, UI women 63
Sneak peek: No. 14 Purdue at UI women, 7 tonight
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 8.9
G Ivory Crawford So. 5-10 14.7
G Amber Moore Jr. 5-11 13.6
G Adrienne GodBold Sr. 5-11 11.0
C Karisma Penn Sr. 6-2 19.8
FYI: The Illini have scored 70 or more points in eight of their first 12 games. Last season, Illinois scored 70-plus points six times in 30 games.
OFF THE BENCH
F Taylor Tuck So. 6-0 6.2
F Kersten Magrum Jr. 6-1 5.7
F Nia Oden So. 5-10 2.3
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G KK Houser Jr. 5-6 11.8
G Courtney Moses Jr. 5-6 12.9
G Dee Dee Williams Jr. 6-0 3.2
F Drey Mingo Sr. 6-2 11.5
F Sam Ostarello Sr. 6-2 9.1
FYI: Purdue, which entered the game shooting 41.3 percent from three-point range, went 0 for 11 from behind the arc in a 74-47 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday.
OFF THE BENCH
F Taylor Manuel Fr. 6-2 8.6
G April Wilson Fr. 5-7 6.2
G Hayden Hamby Fr. 6-2 2.1
Site: Assembly Hall, Champaign
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM; Dave Loane (play by play) and Mike Koon (analyst); tape-delayed at 11 p.m. following Illini-Purdue men's basketball broadcast.
Internet: Live stream on Big Ten Digital Network (link from www.fightingillini.com/allaccess); subscription required
Series: Purdue leads 48-17.
FYI: Purdue ranks second in all-time victories against Illinois. Iowa has defeated the Illini 49 times.
Jeff Huth’s Storylines
Coming off a convincing 11-point victory against then-No. 6 Georgia, Illinois takes a crack at another ranked opponent. Unlike the Illini, Purdue has some bouncing back to do. In their last game, the Boilermakers absorbed a 27-point beatdown from Notre Dame. But Purdue has been a particular nemesis over the years for Illinois, winning seven of the last eight meetings, 12 of the last 14, 24 of the last 27 ... and we could go on. The Notre Dame debacle aside, the Boilermakers also are off to their best start since the 2002-03 season. “A very talented team that’s won a lot and believes that they should win,” UI coach Matt Bollant said. “They’re really sound defensively. They have some toughness to them. ... They’re just a solid basketball team. Do a lot of things right.”
Bollant has been exasperated at times with Illinois’ defense, but he had no complaints after the Georgia game. Although the Bulldogs pushed the pace and ran at every opportunity, the Illini held them 15.4 points below their scoring average. A Georgia team that entered with a 44.2 shooting percentage from the field shot 34.4 percent against Illinois. The Bulldogs also committed 26 turnovers, six more than their previous season high ”They extended (our offense) and picked us up beyond the three-point line, and we allowed them to affect us,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “Now we’re running the offense further out on the floor than we have all year long. ... We were looking at looks we wanted, but we couldn’t make the passes because they’d pushed us so far out.” Bollant viewed the Georgia game as a major step forward for his defense, which remains last in the Big Ten in average points allowed. “I think just our feel for understanding what we’re trying to do was better,” he said. “We did a better job of getting off the weak side and pressuring the basketball so they had trouble seeing, and just cluttering the lane so we could force some turnovers.”
Illini freshman forward McKenzie Piper continues to make strides in her recovery from the flu, during which, according to Bollant, she lost 10 pounds. Piper has not played in three of Illinois’ last four games. In the one exception during that stretch, the Iowa City, Iowa, native logged four minutes. “She’s doing better now and is able to practice; has more energy in practice,” Bollant said. Piper played in each of Illinois’ first eight games, making four starts. Her impending full-time return gives the UI coach more options off his bench but also forces decisions on which reserves will receive minutes. Bollant reiterated this week that he intends to stick with a rotation of no more than seven or eight players, with game situations dictating how deep he goes with his bench. With Piper available, the current bench would have four players who have been regulars or semi-regulars in the rotation this season.
Prediction: Purdue 67, Illinois 63
A dangerous pick considering the Illini’s impressive performance against Georgia. Illinois clearly was the better team that night. Can they play to that level in consecutive games against another quality opponent? If they do, we’ll get bolder in these picks. (N-G prediction record: 9-3).