In our last Big Ten update, Full Court went out on a limb, forecast that the Illinois, then 0-7 in conference play, was poised for a turnaround. In fact, we held our collective breath, crossed our collective fingers and toes and also predicted that the Illini was actually begin that turnaround with a win this week over the reigning Big Ten regular-season champions, Michigan State.
And, lo and behold, the big news of the week is that Illinois, after several close calls, finally pulled one out for their first Big Ten win -- a road win, no less -- over Michigan State, prevailing 71-62 in overtime on Thursday.
In other midweek action, Indiana gave Ohio State a battle for 20 minutes, taking a lead at halftime and literally dominating the boards, before Tayler Hill got her groove on and the Buckeyes ran away with it in the second half, 73-55.
Purdue took no-surprise road win against Northwestern to remain undefeated atop the conference standings and Penn State dominated Michigan, 77-56, to let everyone know their early conference slump is over.
Nebraska defeated Iowa at home, 60-53. And Wisconsin won its second-straight conference game, 78-72, over Minnesota.
So right now, it appears the four byes for the play-in games of the Big Ten Tournament will go to Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska, although Penn State and Purdue still have the toughest part of their schedules to go, so we could see some movement.
Read on for a closer look at the highlights of this week's Big Ten action, the current league standings, and Full Court's predictions for this weekend's games.
Summing Up the Weekend's Results: Games of Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012
- Illinois 71 @ Michigan State 62 (OT)
- No. 18/19 Penn State 77 @ Michigan 56
- No. 9 Ohio State 73 @ Indiana 55
- Wisconsin 78 @ Minnesota 72
- Iowa 53 @ No. 19/21 Nebraska 60
- No. 13/17 Purdue 80 @ Northwestern 70
A Look Back at the Midweek Action: Highlights from Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012
- Illinois 71 @ Michigan State 62 (OT) -- Illini Finally Win One
Michigan State lost its fourth game in a row Thursday, while Illinois notched its first conference win of the year after four close calls.
The Spartans got off to a slow start and were down, 1-10, and had committed five turnovers in the first eight minutes, but Illinois could only manage an 11-4 lead. In fact, Michigan State went over eight minutes without a field goal and still managed to stay close.
Of course, the Illini were forced to play much of the first half without leading scorer Karisma Penn (foul issues), but as the period progressed, they found their their offensive flow, finishing the half on a 9-0 run to take a 35-21 lead at intermission. The Illini shot 51.9 percent from the field for the half and knocked down five of their seven three-point attempts.
But for a while, it seemed as though the Illini were determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of impending victory. After coughing up only five turnovers in the entire first half, Illinois turned it over four times in the early minutes of the second, and Michigan State was quick to take advantage. State scored 12 straight points to open the second half, while Illinois did not score a field goal for almost eight minutes during which the Spartans ran off on a 21-2 run. It didn't help Illinois much that just 10 seconds after checking in from a prolonged sojourn on the bench, the foul-hobbled Penn picked up her fourth personal with more than 13 minutes to go.
In just a little more than six minutes, the Spartans had erased the 14-point halftime deficit, and taken a two-point lead, 39-37, on a three-pointer by Kiana Johnson on an assist from Porsche Poole. Throughout this stretch, MSU was consistently hitting its shots; after connecting on just seven of their 23 attempts (30.7 percent) in the first period, their shooting improved to 51.9 percent (14-27) in the second. Meanwhile, the Illini slipped to just 25.9 percent (seven-of-27) from the field and two-of-six (33.3 percent) from the arc in the second stanza. Moreover, While the two teams were roughly equally on the boards (40-38 in MSU's favor) for the game as a whole, the Spartans' superior rebounding during that stretch seemed to frustrate the unsure Illinois team.
By the time the Illini finally found the bucket on a lay-up by Kersten Magrum, who returned to the lineup for the first time in three games after suffering a concussion, nearly eight minutes had rolled off the clock, and Michigan State was leading by five, 42-37.
The two teams battled more or less evenly from there, alternating single-digit leads until the final minutes of regulation. Five times over the last 10 minutes the Illini battled back to tie the score.
With 1:12 left to play, Illinois took a one-point lead on a pair of free throws by Penn. Poole quickly answered with a jumper at the other end to make it 57-56, State.
Out of a timeout, Penn missed what could have been a go-ahead jumper, and then Illinois turned the ball over, putting Michigan State in possession, up one, with 25 seconds remaining. Forced to foul, the Illini put Poole at the line, where she made the first but missed the second.
Amber Moore pulled down the rebound for Illinois, which ran down the clock to the nine-second mark before freshman Ivory Crawford launched a jumper that rattled off the rim. But Adrienne Godbold saved the day for the Illini, grabbing the offensive board and putting it back to tie the score at 58.
The Spartans called for time, but out of the huddle, Poole's three-pointer was off the mark, sending the game to extra minutes.
The Spartans had won 15 consecutive overtime games, but Illinois got out to a quick five-point edge in overtime and pulled away from there.
Michigan State's Porsche Poole led all scorers with a career-high 28 points, plus three assists and three steals, but three turnovers. Kiana Johnson added 11 points, plus seven boards and five assists (but four turnovers), and Lykendra Johnson added 10 points, plus four rebounds and six steals, but nine turnovers before fouling out of the game. As a team, State coughed the ball up 23 times, to Illinois's 20 miscues.
Moore led the Illini with 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, but three turnovers; Alexis Burke and Crawford added 12 apiece, while Penn had to settle for just six points in 19 minutes of play.
- No. 18/19 Penn State 77 @ Michigan 56 -- Lady Lions Make their Point
We'd considered this game a toss-up, and actually called it in favor of the Wolverines thanks to their home-court advantage, but the Penn State made short work of Michigan, shooting a sizzling 56 percent from the field, while holding Michigan to just 34 percent, on its way to a 77-56 rout.
The Lady Lions also owned the boards, 43-28. Meanwhile, the Penn State defense held Michigan to just 34.4 percent from the field and an embarrassing three-of-20 (15 percent) from beyond the arc. It wasn't that the Lions were pouring in the threes -- they netted four-of-seven (40 percent) from downtown, all of them in the second half. Rather, the real killer for the Wolverines was the wasted possessions as they heaved up one long ball after another only to see the overwhelming majority of them miss the mark.
Maggie Lucas led the winners with 23 points, on 10-13 from the field, and eight rebounds. Alex Bentley added 18 points, plus eight assists, icing the cake with four boards and a steal, while Nikki Greene contributed a double-double (her first of the season) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Sam Arnold came off the bench to lead Michigan with 12 points and four boards, while starter Nya Jordan and Courtney Boylan chipped in 10 apiece, with Jordan making it a double-double with 10 boards plus four assists. The loss snapped an eight-game home-court winning streak for Michigan.
Penn State is two games out of first place in the conference standings. The Lions will play Purdue on February 16 and Ohio State on February 20, games that might determine the conference regular-season champion. The Lady Lions are 4-0 in road games to start conference play for the first time since 1993-94.
For the Wolverines, every game from here out is a playoff game if they want to win the conference crown. For that matter, even if all they want is a first-round bye in the conference tournament, each game is growing in importance.
- No. 9 Ohio State 73 @ Indiana 55 -- First-half Scare, Second-half Landslide for Buckeyes
Assembly Hall again proved to be a chamber of horrors for Ohio State, but this time Jim Fosters team played a great second half to pull out the win.
On January 31, 2010, the Hoosiers knocked off the No. 6 Buckeyes, 67-62, and this game started out in similar fashion. The Hoosiers came out like a house afire, jumping out to an 11-6 edge with 13 minutes to go in the first half. Indiana was outhustling the Buckeyes, currently ranked No. 9 in both major national polls, to every ball in the early going.
IU led 17-10 with seven minutes to go in the opening half, but Samantha Prahlis led a defensive effort, pulling the Buckeyes to within one, 26-25, by the intermission. It was a season-low first-half score for the Buckeyes, as Ohio States leading scorer, Tayler Hill, who went on to finish with 18 points, was held scoreless for the half. The Hoosiers led the period in rebounds, 30-16, including 11 on the offensive boards.
But the Buckeyes came out ready in the second half and pulled away for the win. Prahalis redeemed herself for a turnover in the opening seconds of the period, by knocking down the go-ahead jumper less than one minute in, and the Buckeyes never trailed again.
OSU outscored the Hoosiers in the second half, 48-29. And most of the turnaround came thanks to pure offense -- Indiana shot the ball poorly in both halves, making 10-33 (30.3 percent) from the field in the first period and 11-39 (28.2 percent) in the second. Only three-point shooting, which improved from two-of-seven (28.6 percent) in the opening period to four-of-eight (50 percent) in the second, was making it any kind of game at all.
But Jim Foster must have given quite a halftime speech, because the Buckeyes stepped up their own production from 11-32 (34.4 percent) in the first period, to a blistering 18-30 (60 percent) in the second stanza.
Prahalis scored 18 points, dished nine assists, and grabbed five rebounds and three steals (but gave up five turnovers) and Hill also notched 18 points, plus four steals, three assists and three rebounds, to lead the Buckeyes. Ashley Adams contributed a double-double of 15 points and 12 boards, plus five swats.
But Indiana's Aulani Sinclair was game leader with 27 points, plus six rebounds. The problem was, she got very little help from her friends: No other Indiana player breached double-digits on the scoreboard, although Jasmine McGhee hauled down 12 rebounds to tie Adams's game high in that department, to which Chaplin added nine points, three assists, and two blocks (but five turnovers), and Hoosier center Sasha Chaplin grabbed 11 rebounds to go with six points and two assists.
- No. 13/17 Purdue 80 @ Northwestern 70 No Surprises Here
It was a career night for two Boilermakers as Courtney Moses scored a career-high 29 and KK Houser added a career-high 21 to help No. 13/17 Purdue keep its slate clean in conference play.
The two teams traded small leads in the early going, but Purdue took the lead for good at the 5:43 mark of the opening half on a three-pointer by Houser off an assist from Chantel Poston. The Boilers stretch that lead to 10, on another trey, this one by Moses off a Chelsea Jones feed, just five seconds before the buzzer, to carry a 43-33 edge into halftime.
The second period was largely more of same, as Purdue swelled its advantage to its max of 13 points on a pair of Houser free-throws at the 7:38 mark. The Wildcats made periodic inroads, cutting the gap to six on three occasions over the course of the period, but could never get any closer.
Though the Wildcats battled Purdue evenly on the boards (43 rebounds apiece), the Boilers forced 22 turnovers (to 15 of their own), 12 resulting from steals, and converted them into 24 points.
Wildcat Dannielle Diamant scored 21 and added 10 rebounds as the freshman continued to improve in league play.
The usually reliable Brittany Rayburn had a horrible night for Purdue, going 0-12 from the field on a night when she needed just 11 points to reach the 1,600 point milestone, but scored only four, all coming at the line.
Kendall Hackney became Northwestern's 14th player with 1,000 or more points when she made a turnaround jumper early in the game. She now has 1,011 for her career.
- Wisconsin 78 @ Minnesota 72 Badgers on a Roll
Wisconsin scored a season-high 78 and won its second-straight conference game Thursday, as they held off a late Gopher rally to prevail, 78-72.
The Badgers led very nearly from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They swelled that lead to 16 points, 31-15, at the midpoint of the opening half on a Jacki Gulczynski three-pointer off an assist from Lacia Gorman.
"We always emphasize that when you come into someone else's place you have to get a good start," said Wisconsin's first-year head coach Bobbie Kelsey. "We had to really come out and play from the beginning of the game. We couldn't dig ourselves a hole."
Still, the Gophers didn't head into their holes, battling back to close the gap to nine, 32-41, by halftime, their comeback effort fueled largely by midrange jumpers and penalty points.
Wisconsin, a team that has had trouble shooting this season, shot 51.6 percent from the field (16-31) in opening period, in which they netted an impressive five of their seven three-point attempts. Meanwhile, Minnesota connected on just 10 of their 29 first-half field goal attempts (34.5 percent), and managed to stay in the game thanks to three treys on six attempts from downtown.
The Gophers' shooting cooled, though only a little (14-29, for 48.3 percent) in the second stanza, although their hail of three-pointers abated (two-of-seven, or 28.6 percent for the second period only). Meanwhile, Minnesota improved its accuracy, though not its volume, of shooting, connecting on 12-26 (46.2 percent), including three (of five) three-pointers, in the second period.
But each time Minnesota managed to carve the lead to single digits, Wisconsin would respond with the key play it needed to protect its advantage. That left the Badgers still clinging to a 10-point lead, 67-57, with just under five minutes remaining.
While the Gophers continued to threaten, with freshman Rachel Banham ultimately cutting it to five on a three-pointer with 11 seconds left, that's as close as Minnesota would get, as Wisconsin dug in and held on, making its foul shots down the stretch, to survive the Gophers' final push.
Banham scored 19 points to lead Minnesota, on six-of-10 from the field, including three-of-three from beyond the arc.
But Wisconsin's Anya Covington matched that point total on a 9-14 effort from the field, and tacked on eight rebounds and five assists before fouling out of the game. Covington also got a little more help from her fellow Gophers, as Taylor Wurtz contributed a double-double of 18 points (including four three-pointers) and 10 rebounds, plus four assists, and Morgan Paige also notched 18 (including three made treys out of four attempts).
Meanwhile, Banham was joined in double digits by Katie Loberg, who put up 15 points and pulled down five rebounds, and Kionna Kellogg, who contributed a 10-point, 13-board double-double, while icing the cake with five assists.
- Iowa 53 @ No. 19/21 Nebraska 60 Hooper Doubles Down
Coach Lisa Bluder put her finger on the button when she said that their first-half scoring drought doomed her team in this midweek contest at Nebraska.
We went 12 minutes without a field-goal in the first half, she said. We missed some shots that we can put down. In the second half we were able to come back some because we started hitting some shots, the same shots we were missing in the first half and we played a better zone defense."
Bluder also observed that handling Husker Jordan Hoopers athleticism was a difficult assignment.
Jordan Hooper was fabulous, Bluder said. She is very hard to defend because she can do so many things.
Hooper led all scorers with 22 points and 15 rebounds for her Big Ten-leading ninth double-double of the season. She knocked down 7-of-14 attempts, three of which came from distance.
But it lucky for Huskers fans that Hooper performed so well, because no one else on the home team managed to score more than seven points in this outing. As a team, Nebraska knocked down just 18 of their 56 attempts from the field, for a 32.1 field-goal shooting percentage, a season-low. That included a paltry six makes out of 30 attempts from beyond the arc for 20 percent -- another season-low.
And Nebraska's shooting woes weren't all attributable to the skill of the Iowa defense. Indeed, on this night, the Huskers couldn't even seem to hit their penalty shots, connecting on just 18-of-30 free throws for an unimpressive 60 percent from the line.
Nebraska, considered one of the best rebounding teams in the league, was even outdone, albeit slightly, on the boards, 41-40, by the Hawkeyes.
In fact, the Hawkeyes actually outscored the Huskers, 36-30, in the second period, but the 17-30 hole they had dug for themselves in the first period simply proved too deep.
As poor as their foul shooting was, the Huskers were saved from defeat at the line. They paid 23 visits to the charity stripe in the second half, where they collected 14 points, while the Hawkeyes, who shot a respectable 86.7 percent from the free-throw line for the game, brought home seven penalty points in 17 second-half trips to the line. The difference? Seven points -- exactly the margin of the Nebraska victory.
Nebraska head coach Connie Yori did her best to put lipstick on that pig:
"We won the game," she stated emphatically. "We didn't shoot well. We didn't hit a lot of shots. We didn't hit many free throws, and tonight we also got out-rebounded, but we still won the game. We really got after it on defense and took away their driving lanes and didn't give them a lot of open looks. We also forced some turnovers. I think it says a lot for a team as young as us, to not let our struggles on offense carry over to our defense. That's why we won the game."
Jaime Printy led Iowa with 17 points, Kamille Wahlin added 11 and Samantha Logic chipped in 10. Kelly Krei grabbed a team-high eight rebounds but notched just three points for the Hawkeyes, while Morgan Johnson just missed a double-double with eight points and nine boards before fouling out.
|As of January 27, 2012|
Source: BigTen.org/Women's Basketball Standings
Coming Up Saturday, January 28, 2012
Editor's Note: Full Court's Big Ten correspondent Mark Bradford accurately predicted Thursday's Illinois upset on the road over Michigan State, but blew the call on Penn State's big win over Michigan and Wisconsin victory over Minnesota. Adding his four-of-six correct calls on Thursday to his previous record, Bradford is now 37-11, or 77 percent, on his predictions went six-for-six in his predictions for the Big Ten conference season.
|No. 13/17 PURDUE
Purdue continues give minutes to a lot of players in meaningful times and head coach Sharon Versyp has her team humming. The Purdue group of guards is the best in the conference and Rayburn is the fire. However, the Boilers lack a big inside presence and Morgan Johnson scored a team-high 16-points when Purdue nosed out a 57-55 squeaker at Mackey on January 15. Both teams shot poorly that game and the outcome came down to a last-second shot that was blocked by Brittany Rayburn.
However, this game is a Hawkeye home game, and that alone may be worth 5-10 points.
Prediction: Iowa hands Purdue its first loss here, but only by three.
When: Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST, 2:00 p.m. CST, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
Coming Up Sunday, January 29
|No. 19/21 NEBRASKA
Jolette Laws Illini are the best 1-7 team in the conference and winning on the road against Michigan State was a big shot in the arm. Nonetheless, Nebraska averages 75 points per game while Illinois scores 64. The Huskers allow opponents 61 while Illinois is last in the league at 67 points allowed. Illinois turns the ball over 19 times a game while Nebraska hands it over 15 times. Nebraska is at the top of the league in rebounding with about 44 a game while Illinois gathers 37. Nebraska averages over seven three-pointers while Illinois is at just over three. Illinois blew a huge lead against Michigan State (14-point lead gone in five minutes), a conference-season long trend that Law cant seem to fix.
Prediction:Nebraska by six.
When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST/12:00 p.m. CST, Assembly Hall, Champaign, Ill. (BTN)
|No. 9 OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes average 79 points per game, Minnesota 66, but the Golden Gophers allow fewer points on average (60.5) than Ohio State (61). That still leave the Buckeyes with a substantial larger scoring margin. Jim Fosters team leads the league in field-goal percentage (48) and three-point percentage (38). Minnesotas freshman Rachel Banham will be eaten alive by OSUs senior Samantha Prahalis. Minnesota just isnt deep enough to beat the Buckeyes unless three OSU players have sub-par games in the same outing.
Prediction: Ohio State by 10.
When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST/12:00 p.m. CST, Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minn. (BTN)
|No. 18/19 PENN STATE
Michigan State rolled past the home-standing Lady Lions earlier this season, 75-65, but the situation now seems significantly different. The Spartans are in the throes of a four-game losing streak, and a win by Penn State would pretty much close the door on State's chance to repeat its regular-season title. The Spartans' poor shooting at key points in the Illinois game cost them what appeared to most to be a "for-sure" home win. Conversely, Penn State stumbled out of the conference blocks early but the Lions are now on a roll. They blew out Michigan at home, lead the league in rebounding (44.6 to MSU's 40.5), and are second in the league in scoring with 76 points per game (to State's sixth-best 65.4).
Prediction: Transition offense should work against a less experienced Spartan team. Penn State by five.
When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST, Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich. (ESPN2).
Two bottom dwellers looking for some kind of confidence meet in Evanston. Indiana is the worst shooting team in the league at 35 percent while Northwestern shoots a better, albeit unimpressive, 40 percent from the field. The Wildcats will be at a rebounding disadvantage but Dannielle Diamant has been improving on the inside game by game. Indiana turns the ball over too much and the Hoosiers' first-half performance against Ohio State was an inspired fluke.
Prediction: Wildcats by eight.
When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. CST, Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill. (BTDN, Wildcats' All Access).
Coming Up Monday, January 30
This is a huge game fo