HQ prediction: UI women 64, Michigan 60
UI women at Michigan, 6 p.m. today
Illinois (13-8, 6-3 Big Ten)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 7.7
G Ivory Crawford So. 5-10 13.0
G Amber Moore Jr. 5-11 13.1
G Adrienne GodBold Sr. 5-11 18.6
C Karisma Penn Sr. 6-2 18.5
FYI: With six rebounds Sunday at Wisconsin, Penn moved into third place on the UI career list, passing Jonelle Polk (1983-87). Penn has 938 in her career. No. 2 is Cindy Dallas (1998-2004) with 1,014.
OFF THE BENCH
F Taylor Tuck So. 6-0 5.2
G McKenzie Piper Fr. 6-0 2.1
F Nia Oden So. 5-10 1.8
Michigan (16-6, 5-4 Big Ten)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Kate Thompson Sr. 6-4 15.0
G Nicole Elmblad So. 5-11 4.4
G Jenny Ryan Sr. 5-9 10.7
F Nya Jordan Sr. 6-0 6.9
F Rachel Sheffer Sr. 6-1 12.7
FYI: The Wolverines lost to Michigan State for the 12th straight time Monday, Michigan’s last win against Michigan State came on Jan. 13, 2008.
OFF THE BENCH
F Sam Arnold Sr. 6-4 5.6
G Madison Ristovski Fr. 5-10 3.0
G Brenae Harris So. 5-10 3.5
Site: Crisler Center (12,693), Ann Arbor, Mich.
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM; tape-delayed at about 9:30 p.m. following the Illini-Indiana men’s basketball broadcast; Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
Series: Illinois leads 40-27
FYI: Wolverines have won seven of last eight meetings. The exception occurred at 2011 Big Ten tournament, where 11th-seeded Illini knocked off third-seeded Michigan 55-47 in the second round.
JEFF HUTH'S STORYLINES
No Illinois women’s basketball team ever has won more than five Big Ten road games in a season. The current Illini, who share that school record, have three remaining chances to make it their own, starting with tonight’s visit to Michigan. These Illini already have accomplished what none of their predecessors could — winning five consecutive Big Ten road games in the same season. At 5-0, Illinois also is the only Big Ten team without a conference road loss this season. “When we’re on the road, that’s all we have is ourselves and our team,” Illini redshirt junior guard Amber Moore said this week. “We’re always on edge on the road, especially the places we haven’t won in a while. We’re always amped and ready for the game. I don’t really know what it is, but it’s been working.”
If two games make a trend, then Adrienne GodBold is on one in regard to personal fouls — in a good way. The senior guard, who fouled out of seven of her first eight games since becoming academically eligible for the second semester, not only has managed to avoid doing so in the two games since; GodBold has committed four fouls in a total of 74 minutes in those two games. Considering that the Chicago native leads her team in scoring (18.6) and ranks second in rebounding (7.9), GodBold’s presence — or, more to the point — absence is a big deal for Illinois. “It’s important for her to be on the court,” Moore said. “And we tell her that: ‘We need you on the court. We don’t need you fouling out.’ ” Of course, it’s not like GodBold isn’t trying to avoid foul trouble. But her aggressive style can lead to fouls, especially if it’s coupled with trying to immediately make up for a play — such as missing a shot or committing a turnover and then fouling while trying to get the ball back. “I think she’s done a lot better as the year’s progressed (with) being more disciplined,” Moore said. “She’s still working on it, and it’s gotten better. We don’t want to take away from her aggressiveness, so we have to help her out with that.”
During the Illini’s current three-game winning streak — their longest of the season — Moore has been at her sharpshooting best. In that span, the Detroit native is shooting 57.1 percent (12 of 21) from three-point range and 51.6 percent (16 of 31) overall. “When you’re making shots and your teammates are finding you, it’s a good feeling,” she said. But like any player who is the primary long-range threat for her team, Moore has experienced the flip side. In the three games immediately prior to her current hot streak, the 5-11 guard was 3 of 16 from beyond the arc and 5 of 29 on all shots. As Moore well knows, these kinds of ups and downs come with the job. “I’m always shooting every day in the gym and making sure I’m consistent with my shot, but sometimes the shot (doesn’t) fall,” she said. It’s at times like these that Moore can take comfort in the fact she still can make a positive impact. Besides ranking third on the team in scoring, Moore is second in assists, fourth in rebounding and fifth in steals. “She’s more than just a shooter, so she brings other things even if her shot is off,” UI point guard Alexis Smith said.
UI 64, Michigan 60
If the Illini are to set a school record with six Big Ten road wins in a season, this looks to be their best opportunity. Illinois’ remaining conference road games are at No. 8 Penn State and No. 13 Purdue. A Michigan team that was 5-1 at one point in the Big Ten race is winless in its last three — the last two each by hefty 15-point margins. The Wolverines figure to be desperate to get back on track. And Michigan can be tough to score upon (No. 2 in scoring defense in Big Ten games). But the road holds no fear for this UI team. If the Illini can stay out of foul trouble and match the Wolverines’ expected intensity, they should win. (N-G record: 13-8)