HQ forecast: Ohio State 68, UI women 65
Sneak peek: UI women at Ohio State,
1 p.m. today
Illinois (7-6, 0-1)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 8.7
G Ivory Crawford So. 5-10 14.7
G Amber Moore Jr. 5-11 13.0
G Adrienne GodBold Sr. 5-11 15.5
C Karisma Penn Sr. 6-2 19.5
FYI: Illinois’ last three opponents have committed a combined 85 turnovers. Purdue’s 34 turnovers on Wednesday were its most since Nov. 25, 2004, when the Boilermakers also had 34 in a 55-51 victory against Arkansas.
OFF THE BENCH
F Taylor Tuck So. 6-0 6.0
F Kersten Magrum Jr. 6-1 5.1
F Nia Oden So. 5-10 2.3
Ohio State (10-4, 0-1)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Amber Stokes Sr. 5-10 10.3
G Tayler Hill Sr. 5-10 20.4
F Ameryst Alston Fr. 5-9 4.6
F Ashley Adams Jr. 6-5 9.7
C Aleksandra Dobranic Jr. 6-4 4.5
FYI: Hill has made 40 of her last 41 free throw attempts. She had been 28 of 41 from the line before the near-flawless streak began.
OFF THE BENCH
C Darryce Moore Jr. 6-2 6.5
G Raven Ferguson So. 5-11 6.3
F Martina Ellerbe Jr. 6-2 4.0
Site: Value City Arena (19,500), Columbus, Ohio
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM; WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play by play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
Internet: Live stream on Big Ten Digital Network (link from www.fightingillini.com/allaccess); subscription required
Series: Ohio State leads 44-18.
FYI: Illinois broke an eight-game losing streak in this series in the teams’ last meeting, a 66-65 Illini victory on Feb. 9, 2012, at the Assembly Hall. Then-senior Alexis Burke scored on a layup with two seconds left for the winning points against the No. 10 Buckeyes.
Jeff Huth’s storylines
Ohio State entered the season among the Big Ten’s most highly regarded teams, ranking 19th in the Associated Press poll and 21st in the USA Today coaches’ poll. Of their defeats, only one could be viewed as a bad loss — 62-55 at Washington State (4-8). Although currently unranked in the Associated Press poll, the Buckeyes remain in the coaches’ Top 25 at No. 24. Ohio State puts pressure on opposing defenses with a high-efficiency attack — they’re No. 1 in the Big Ten in shooting percentage at 48.1. Ohio State can cause problems on the other end, too, ranking third in the conference in scoring defense (53.2). An Illini rotation with only one player as tall as 6-foot-2 must contend with the towering Ohio State duo of Adams and Dobranic. “We’ve just got to pressure the ball,” UI coach Matt Bollant said. “You can’t let them stand and look (inside). You’ve got to pressure the ball and take away vision. ... Pressing the ball will make it tougher to throw skips and throw lobs (inside), as well.”
The Buckeyes boast one of the nation’s top talents in Tayler Hill. The Big Ten Preseason Co-Player of the Year scored a career-high 34 points Thursday in a 77-71 overtime loss at Iowa, and she currently ranks third in the league in scoring. Last season, Hill led the conference and ranked 13th nationally with 20.4 points per game. But Hill is much more than a scorer, ranking fifth in the Big Ten in steals. As a junior, she joined teammate Stokes — the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year — on the league’s All-Defensive Team. “She can do everything,” Bollant said of Hill. “She can shoot the three. She’s really good going to the rim. She gets to the foul line. She’s a good rebounder ... and just a complete player.”
This was a new one for Bollant in a coaching career that dates back to 1994. We’re referring to a player getting injured in her sleep. It happened to Nia Oden the night before the Illini played Purdue on Wednesday, the reserve forward suffering what Bollant described as a separated shoulder. An injury to that same left shoulder forced the 5-10 sophomore to sit out Illinois’ exhibition opener on Oct. 30. “It kind of pops out of place,” Bollant said, “and then you lose strength when that happens.” Oden did not dress for Wednesday night’s game after tests showed the strength in the shoulder was about half its normal level. However, she had played in every regular season game before Wednesday, averaging almost 10 minutes per contest. Bollant said Saturday that Oden’s availability for today’s game is “probable.”
Prediction: Ohio State 68, Illinois 65
One of these teams will open the Big Ten race 0-2, something neither wants to see happen. Both are coming off tough-to-swallow overtime losses. Both should be hungry for a win. We’ll go with the Buckeyes in a close one based on the location. Ohio State has won a school-record 31 consecutive home games. It’s the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Baylor (46). (N-G prediction record: 10-3).