CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
Penn State (18-8) at (18) Illinois (21-5)
Wednesday, February 18th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Assembly Hall (16,833) -- Champaign, Illinois. Television: BTN. Home Record: Penn St. 13-3, Illinois 13-1. Away Record: Penn St. 4-4, Illinois 4-4. Neutral Record: Penn St. 1-1, Illinois 4-0. Conference Record: Penn St. 7-6, Illinois 9-4. Series Record: Illinois leads, 21-9.
GAME NOTES: The Penn State Nittany Lions have made their way to Champaign to take on the 18th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini in a Big Ten Conference battle.
Penn State carried a three-game losing streak into Saturday's home clash with Minnesota, but the result of that tilt was a much-needed 68-63 victory. The Nittany Lions are a solid 18-8 overall, and their 7-6 Big Ten record exceeds what most expected of the club entering the campaign.
Illinois brings a three-game win streak into tonight's tilt that has enabled the club to move to 21-5 overall and 9-4 in Big Ten action. The Illini were most recently in action on Sunday when they knocked off Indiana by a 65-52 final. They have held all three opponents during the current run to fewer than 60 points, and strong defense has been key to the team's success all season.
Illinois owns a 21-9 series advantage over Penn State, which includes a victory over the Nittany Lions in last year's Big Ten Conference Tournament.
Talor Battle led Penn State to the victory over Minnesota on Saturday, as the talented guard finished with 21 points. Stanley Pringle pitched in 13 points for the Nittany Lions, who only got six points from Jamelle Cornley. Penn State earned a 21-13 edge in points from the foul line and forced 19 turnovers, two obvious contributing factors in the win. Battle is scoring 17.6 ppg this season to go along with 134 assists. Cornley provides 14.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg, so he is a much better player than what he showed against Minnesota. As for Pringle, he adds 13.2 ppg to the mix. No other player on the roster is generating more than 5.4 ppg, emphasizing the importance of the "big three". Penn State is outrebounding its opponents by 3.5 rpg, and the club has attempted 136 more free throws than the opposition.
Opponents are only scoring 56.4 ppg against Illinois, which is limiting foes to 39.5 percent shooting from the field, including 29.1 percent accuracy from three-point range. The Illini have four double-digit scorers in the fold, and Demetri McCamey paces the balanced attack with 12.0 ppg to go along with his 128 assists. Mike Tisdale contributes 11.2 ppg, and Mike Davis is posting 10.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg. As for Trent Meachem, he rounds out the foursome with 10.1 ppg. Davis and Tisdale netted 16 points apiece in the win over Indiana, and Davis also pulled down 10 boards. The Illini connected on 50 percent of their field goal attempts and earned a 37-27 rebounding advantage as well.
Illinois will improve its already stellar 13-1 home record with a victory over Penn State tonight. Expect the Illini to pull away in the second half.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 69, Penn State 56
02/18 10:23:30 ET