HQ prediction: UI women 71, Indiana 63
Beat writer Jeff Huth breaks down Saturday's Big Ten game between the Illini and the Hoosiers:
Indiana at Illinois, 2 p.m. Saturday
Illinois (15-10, 8-5 Big Ten)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 7.2
G Ivory Crawford So. 5-10 12.6
G Amber Moore Jr. 5-11 12.6
F Adrienne GodBold Sr. 5-11 18.1
C Karisma Penn Sr. 6-2 18.8
FYI: Penn State’s field goal shooting percentage of 61.1 Wednesday was the highest against an Illinois team since Feb. 13, 2011, when Purdue shot 61.4 percent.
OFF THE BENCH
G Taylor Tuck So. 6-0 5.0
F McKenzie Piper Fr. 6-0 1.7
F Nia Oden So. 5-10 1.6
Indiana (11-15, 2-11 Big Ten)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Jasmine McGhee Sr. 5-11 12.3
G Nicole Bell Fr. 5-4 5.6
F Milika Taufa Jr. 6-0 4.2
F Aulani Sinclair Sr. 6-1 15.8
F Linda Rubene Sr. 6-3 6.5
FYI: With three three-pointers against Purdue on Wednesday, Sinclair moved into a tie for third place in program history in career treys (174).
OFF THE BENCH
C Sasha Chaplin Sr. 6-4 5.9
C Simone Deloach Jr. 6-3 3.6
G Andrea Mize So. 5-9 0.3
Site: The Assembly Hall (16,618), Champaign
TV: Big Ten Network; Eric Collins (play-by-play) and Stephanie White (analyst)
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM; WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play-by- play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
Series: Indiana leads 33-29. Last meeting — Illinois 61, Indiana 60 on Feb. 12, 2012, at Bloomington, Ind.
FYI: Illinois is 3-1 this season in games carried by BTN. Besides today, BTN will air the Illini’s March 3 game at Purdue as well as any games Illinois plays in the Big Ten tournament through the semifinal round (ESPN2 will carry the championship game).
JEFF HUTH'S STORYLINES
The Hoosiers should be energized after ending a 10-game losing streak in dramatic fashion Wednesday night. Indiana edged No. 22 Purdue 62-61 at home on a buzzer-beating shot from just inside the arc by Jasmine McGhee. The victory was the Hoosiers’ first against a ranked opponent since Dec. 5, 2010, when they knocked off No. 24 Nebraska. “It’s a big win to beat a ranked team at home,” Illini coach Matt Bollant said. “They’ll come in with a lot of confidence.” McGhee’s game-winner capped a 26-point performance by the 2011 WBCA National Junior College Player of the Year. McGhee and forward Aulani Sinclair do the bulk of the scoring for an offense that ranks last in the Big Ten (55.1 points per game). “They’re really their key,” Bollant said of McGhee and Sinclair. “The other kids aren’t as gifted scoringwise. They kind of get their baskets here or there, but those two can really score so you’ve got to shut those two down.”
For the second time this season, Bollant will coach against a program for which he once served as an assistant. In Bollant’s first regular season game as Illinois’ head coach in November, his Illini handled Evansville 84-52 at the Assembly Hall. He was on the Purple Aces’ staff for three seasons beginning in 1997. Now, Bollant renews acquaintances with Indiana, where he coached for two seasons beginning in 2000. “Good fond memories,” Bollant said of his tenure with the Hoosiers. “Good people at Indiana and built some good relationships.” The second of those Hoosiers teams won the 2002 Big Ten tournament as the No. 5 seed. “So it was kind of a magical ride,” Bollant said. At Evansville and Indiana, Bollant assisted current Northern Illinois head coach Kathi Bennett — the daughter of former Wisconsin men’s coach Dick Bennett and the sister of current Virginia men’s coach Tony Bennett.
Bollant spent part of his Friday taking in the girls’ state basketball tournament at Normal. The UI coach has offered a scholarship to 6-foot-4 freshman Tori McCoy of St. Thomas More, which played in the Class 2A semifinals. Two of the Illini’s Class of 2013 in-state signees remain alive in postseason tournaments. Point guard Kennedy Cattenhead and No. 6 Bolingbrook will face No. 2 Chicago Whitney Young in a Class 4A super-sectional Monday. The same night, forward Sarah Livingston and No. 9 Morton take on Kankakee Bishop McNamara in a 3A super-sectional. The Illini’s two other in-state signees — forwards Jacqui Grant of Maine South and Leah Bolton of Chicago Marist — lost Thursday in 4A sectional championship games. Two out-of-state Illini signees — guard Taylor Gleason of Goodrich (Mich.) and guard/forward Mikaala Shackleford of Minnetonka (Minn.) Hopkins — begin their postseasons next week.
PREDICTION: Illinois 71, Indiana 63. Illinois hasn’t been able to get on much of a roll this season, with its longest winning streak three games. But say this about the Illini: they’re Team Resilient, repeatedly bouncing back quickly from defeat. Only once this season has Illinois lost consecutive games, and that streak was stopped at two. Seven other times, Illinois has followed a loss with a victory in its very next game. The Illini will be called upon to do so again today, this time after suffering their most lopsided defeat — a 95-62 blowout at No. 7 Penn State — since January 2005. If Illinois doesn’t suffer a hangover from that whipping in State College, it should take care of a last-place Indiana team that is 2-8 on the road. (N-G record: 16-9)