Alcorn State at UI, 1 p.m. Sunday
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Sarah Hartwell So. 5-10 14.3
G Taylor Tuck Jr. 6-0 6.7
G Ivory Crawford Jr. 5-10 16.3
G Amber Moore Sr. 5-11 23.7
F Jacqui Grant Fr. 6-3 15.3
FYI: Moore’s 71 points are highest total in a three-game span of her career.
OFF THE BENCH
G Taylor Gleason Fr. 5-8 7.0
F Sarah Livingston Fr. 6-2 6.0
F Nia Oden Jr. 5-10 2.0
Alcorn State (1-2)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Tierro Frost Sr. 5-9 17.7
G Jasmine Cunningham Fr. 5-8 1.7
G Kierro Frost Jr. 5-8 3.3
F Henrietta Wells Fr. 6-2 2.7
F Angelica Wilson-Reid Fr. 6-0 5.7
FYI: Besides Tierro Frost, only one other player has scored in double figures (once).
OFF THE BENCH
G Anastasia Tuset Sr. 5-8 5.0
F Ather Cep So. 6-3 2.0
G Lindsay Littlejohn So. 5-10 4.7
Site: State Farm Center (16,618), Champaign.
Series: Illinois leads 1-0. Last meeting: Illinois 73, Alcorn State 56 on Nov. 24, 2000, at Lahaina, Hawaii.
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM, Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst).
FYI: Fans who attended Saturday’s Illini-Ohio State football game can use the ticket stub for free admission.
Jeff Huth’s storylines
We’ll need to wait until the Illini play some tougher competition — it’s coming up — before getting a truer reading on the offensive prowess of this bunch. So far, it’s in the stratosphere, Illinois averaging 90.7 points. What’s particularly encouraging to coach Matt Bollant is the multiple contributions. Last season, two players — now-departed seniors Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold — accounted for 43.2 percent of the Illini’s points. This season, four players are averaging over 14 points and three others are chipping in an average of at least six.
“It’s exciting to have different kids that can score and make plays,” Bollant said after Illinois’ 93-70 victory Thursday against Mississippi Valley State. “The way we shot the basketball tonight is exciting.”
Bollant continues to have concerns about his team’s play on the other side of the court, however. An MVSU team playing its third game in five days — all on the road — entered State Farm Center averaging 53.7 points. The Devilettes exceeded that by 16.3, doing a healthy portion of their scoring damage inside. MVSU scored nearly half of its points (34) in the paint. Bollant would like to keep that percentage to no more than one-third and preferably to 25 percent. “We’ve got to grow defensively, and that’s our challenge,” the second-year Illini coach said. “How good are we going to be will depend a lot on how we defend. And right now we’re really good on the offensive end and we’re exciting to watch, but we’ve got to grow defensively.”
For the second game in a row, Illinois will face a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The fact that Alcorn State already has half as many wins as it recorded all last season tells you the challenge this program faces. Coming of a 2-26 campaign, the Braves are going with three freshman starters in a bid to build for the future. It can be an ugly process, Alcorn State being outscored 154-72 in its two losses. The Braves’ attack is highly reliant on veteran Tierro Frost, who is averaging 20 shots per game and, at this point, shooting 26.7 percent overall and 13.3 from three-point range. Alcorn State goes hard to the boards. The Braves are only a minus-3.7 in rebounding average and are outrebounding opponents on the offensive glass 38-29.
Prediction: Illinois 95, Alcorn State 57
Can the Illini keep up their torrid scoring pace? We won’t be surprised if Bollant’s bunch clears the 90-point mark for the third time in four games against the youthful Braves. (N-G prediction record: 2-1)