HQ prediction: Purdue 76, UI women 72

HQ prediction: Purdue 76, UI women 72

Sneak Peek:
No. 22 Purdue at Illinois
6 p.m. today

Lineups


Illinois (9-10, 2-4 Big Ten)
STARTERS
Pos.    Name    Yr.    Ht.    PPG
G    Ivory Crawford    Jr.    5-10     15.3
G    Alexis Smith    Jr.    5-9    8.4
G    Sarah Hartwell      So.    5-10     8.7
G/F    Amber Moore      Sr.    5-11      15.9
C    Jacqui Grant      Fr.    6-3    12.9
FYI: With 13 points and 10 rebounds against Michigan State on Thursday, Grant recorded her third double-double and first since Dec. 4 against Georgia Tech.

OFF THE BENCH
G/F    Taylor Tuck    Jr.    6-0    3.9
F     Sarah Livingston    Fr.    6-2    3.7
F    Nia Oden    Jr.    5-10    2.2

Purdue (14-5, 4-3 Big Ten)
STARTERS
Pos.    Name    Yr.    Ht.    PPG
G    Courtney Moses      Sr.    5-6    15.3
G    KK Houser    Sr.    5-6    15.2
G    April Wilson     So.    5-7    9.2
F    Liza Clemons    Jr.    6-2    9.4
C    Camille Redmon    Jr.    6-4    3.8
FYI: Clemons scored a career-high 23 points against Northwestern on Thursday and also grabbed 10 rebounds for her second career double-double.

OFF THE BENCH
F    Whitney Bays     Jr.    6-2    11.2
G    Bridget Perry     Fr.    6-2    3.6
G    Dee Dee Williams    Sr.    6-0    1.6

Details

Site:  State Farm Center (16,618), Champaign.
Series: Purdue leads 50-17. Last meeting: Purdue 76, Illinois 65 on March 3, 2013, at West Lafayette, Ind.
TV: BTN; Lisa Byington (play by play) and Stephanie White (analyst).
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM and WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play by play) and Mike Koon (analyst).
FYI: This is the Illini’s fifth scheduled live appearance on BTN this season, but technical difficulties prevented the last one (Jan. 18 at Michigan) from being shown.

Jeff Huth’s storylines

1

When the Illini get to the foul line, it can make a world of difference. That much was evident Thursday in the UI’s 61-51 victory at Michigan State. In Illinois’ previous seven games — during which Matt Bollant’s team went 2-5 — opponents held a cumulative 123-59 advantage in free-throw points. With Bollant urging the Illini to be more aggressive on offense, Illinois made 25 trips to the line against Michigan State and outscored the Spartans 19-8 there. It should be noted that while the Illini primarily have faced zone defenses this season, Michigan State played man-to-man. “Which makes it a little easier to attack and get to the foul line, as well,” Bollant said. When the Illini do face a zone, the UI coach has emphasized the need to still try to work the ball inside and not lean too heavily on outside shooting. An extreme example of the latter occurred during the 75-56 loss to Nebraska on Jan. 12, when Illinois continued to flail away from the perimeter with disastrous results, going 2 for 27 beyond the arc. “After the Nebraska game, we made some changes to give us a little more balance and not rely on (outside shots) as much,” Bollant said.

2

Purdue can relate to an Illini team that lost two high-impact inside players after last season. While Illinois has been forced to adjust to the departure of seniors Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold, the Boilermakers face a similar situation with the graduation losses of Drey Mingo and Sam Ostarello. The last time Illinois faced that pair, the duo combined for 30 points on 13-of-15 shooting. Purdue also is without 6-3 Taylor Manuel, a Big Ten All-Freshman Team pick last year who initially transferred to Division II Missouri S&T before moving again to Loyola. “I’d say they’re different ... maybe not quite as balanced with the inside play,” Bollant said of Purdue. “They’re pushing the ball a little more and shooting the ball a little quicker than they have in the past and trying to play a little more up and down.” The Boilermakers still boast a formidable backcourt in Courtney Moses and KK Houser. Moses is a particular UI nemesis, having twice defeated the Illini with shots either at the buzzer or in the final seconds. Moses and Houser rank among the Big Ten’s top 11 in scoring average, and Moses is typically deadly from three-point range (47.7 percent). “They’re one of the best backcourts in the Big Ten — and one of the best backcourts in the country — and they rely heavily on those two to make plays,” Bollant said.

3

Two days before Purdue hosted Northwestern last Thursday, the West Lafayette campus was the scene of a nightmarish tragedy. On Tuesday, 21-year-old Andrew Boldt was fatally shot by a fellow Purdue teaching assistant in the Electrical Engineering Building. Boilermakers junior forward Whitney Bays was in class at Armstrong Hall of Engineering at the time of the shooting and was alerted to the incident when a man suddenly entered the classroom, guiding a group of students into the room with him. “He told us to get on the floor and underneath tables,” Bays told the Lafayette Journal and Courier. “We didn’t know what was going on,” The deadly incident could have made it difficult for Purdue players to focus on their impending game against the Wildcats, but, according to Bays, the tragedy served as motivation. “We’ve got to get the win for everything that’s going on and just dedicate our game to everything that’s happened and just play our hardest,” she said. The Boilermakers did just that, rolling to a 90-65 win against Northwestern.

Prediction:
Purdue 76, Illinois 72


Considering the quality of the opponent, Illinois is coming off its most impressive victory of the season. With their 61-51 win at Michigan State, the Illini joined the ranks of underdogs that have made life miserable this season for favored teams in the whacky and unpredictable Big Ten. Was it a season-turning triumph? What better way to find out than to next face a longtime tormentor. Purdue’s 50 all-time victories against Illinois are the most of any UI opponent. That only hints, however, at how lopsided this series has been since the late 1980s. The Boilers, who’ve won five straight against Illinois, are 44-5 in the past 49 meetings. As Illinois proved against Michigan State — holding the Spartans to their lowest point total of the season — it’s capable of impressive things. For a UI program with renewed aspirations under Bollant, getting over the Purdue hump is a necessary accomplishment. Here’s yet another opportunity. (N-G prediction record: 16-3).
 

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