GOPHERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL GAMEDAY
2 p.m., Sunday at Illinois • State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
TV; radio: Streaming: B1G+; 96.7-FM
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Kent Youngblood's preview:
Opening bell: Tuesday in Wisconsin, the Gophers held the Badgers to 40% shooting overall, 25.9% on threes, forced 18 turnovers and had a season-low five turnovers. But they lost because they struggled so much on the offensive end. That game was the fourth in nine days. The Gophers (14-5, 4-4 Big Ten) took Wednesday off, then spent a good bit of time working on the offensive end. Instead of changing or tweaking the scheme, coach Dawn Plitzuweit believes better execution will do the job. Illinois (8-10, 2-6) has lost five of seven, the victories coming against Northwestern and Rutgers.
Watch her: One goal for Plitzuweit is helping leading scorer Mara Braun (17.7 points per game) out of recent shooting struggles. Braun is second in the Big Ten in minutes per game. The Gophers often ask her to guard the opponents' best perimeter player, set the team defense as well as carry the load offensively while usually drawing the other team's top defender. Braun has made just 15 of 65 shots in her past four games, shooting 4-for-22 on three-pointers. But she has averaged five-plus rebounds per game in that time and tied her career high with three blocks at Wisconsin. ... Illinois junior Adalia McKenzie, a former Park Center High School Star, is averaging 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Forecast: Illinois has had a disappointing season so far. The Illini returned 10 players — including the starting lineup — from last season's team which reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years. But the Illini remain an athletic, dangerous team that had an 11-point halftime lead against 12th-ranked Ohio State before losing by eight Thursday.
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