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Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 7 p.m. ET
Value City Arena Columbus, Ohio
# 19/17 Ohio State
(14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) vs. Illinois (4-15, 0-8 Big Ten)

Radio – WOSU 820-AM/www.wosu.org (Marty Bannister, Kristin Watt)
Television – BigTenNetwork.com

Series Information
Series Record: OSU leads, 37-17
Last meeting: 1/12/09, OSU 67-35 in Champaign
In Columbus: OSU leads, 19-3
Last UI win in Columbus: 1/11/01, 75-73
Current streak: OSU-1

COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 19/17 Ohio State (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) will look to bounce back from a rare Big Ten home defeat when it welcomes the Illinois Fighting Illini (4-15, 0-8 Big Ten) Thursday to Value City Arena.
 
These two teams met 11 days ago in Champaign, with the Buckeyes prevailing, 67-35, behind 14 points from Illinois-native Brittany Johnson.
 
The Buckeyes are coming off a 59-56 loss to Minnesota last Thursday while the Illini lost 61-43 at Wisconsin Jan. 18.
 
Ohio State (5-1) is currently one-half game behind Indiana (6-1) in the Big Ten standings. The Hoosiers downed Purdue, 71-57, Monday in Bloomington to break a three-way tie for first.

Closing in on 1,000
Sophomore Jantel Lavender has 906 points so far in 48 career games and has a chance to tie the great Katie Smith as the fastest Ohio State women’s basketball player to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Smith scored her 1,000th point in her 52nd career game and Lavender needs 94 points (23.5 ppg) over the next four games to tie Smith.
Ohio State players quickest to 1,000 points:
Katie Smith 1993-94 seasons (52 games)
Frani Washington 1978-79 seasons (56 games)
Jessica Davenport 2004-05 seasons (63 games)
Jantel Lavender 2008-09 seasons (906 points though 48 games)

Foster Going for 10th-Consecutive 20-Win Season
With six more wins, Ohio State will record its seventh-consecutive 20-win season. It would also mark the 23rd of coach Foster’s career, his 10th-consecutive overall and his seventh at OSU, the most of any coach at Ohio State. Last year he tied Nancy Darsch, who had six 20-win seasons in 12 years as head coach from 1985-97. Foster has done it each year at Ohio State since his first season in 2002-03, including a 30-win season in 2004-05.

Fastbreak Points
Ohio State had its 86-consecutive game win streak against unranked teams at home snapped with its 59-56 loss to Minnesota Jan. 15. The last unranked team to win in Columbus was Penn State, Feb. 3, 2002.

Ohio State is currently ranked No. 11 in the latest RPI rankings and has the 11th-toughest schedule in the country according to RealtimeRPI.com. Two of Ohio State’s three losses are to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 (No. 6 Auburn, No. 2 North Carolina).

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring margin (+14.2) and FG percentage (.443) and ranks either second or third in scoring (69.8), fewest points allowed (55.6), FT percentage (.751), FG percentage defense (.353), 3FG percentage (.365), rebounding (40.0), rebounding margin (+5.7), assists (16.06) and assist/turnover ratio (0.92).

Sophomore center Jantel Lavender leads the Big Ten in scoring (21.1 ppg) and rebounding (11.2 rpg) and ranks in the Top 10 nationally in both categories — the only player in NCAA Division I to rank in the Top 10 in both categories. She also leads the Big Ten with 12 20-point games this season and is fourth in the league in FG percentage (.521).

Lavender’s 26 career double-doubles in 48 career games trails only Indiana senior Whitney Thomas (28) for the career lead among active Big Ten players. Lavender has 13 so far this season, matching her total from last season. The Buckeyes are 21-5 when she records a double-double.

Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 48 career games. That streak currently ranks sixth in Division I among active players according to STATS, Inc.
   Current consecutive games of 10+ points:
   1.  Courtney Paris, Oklahoma – 118
   2.  Robyn Fairbanks, Utah Valley St. – 68
   3.  Rachele Fitz, Marist – 53
   4.  Megan Frazee, Liberty – 52
   5.  Morgan Warburton, Utah – 51
   6.  Jantel Lavender, Ohio State – 48

Freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis leads the Big Ten and ranks 8th nationally with 6.2 assists per game. She had a season-high 13 assists in the 9-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina Dec. 3. Prahalis is the only freshman in the country to rank in the Top 10 in that category and the only freshman in the Top 10 in either scoring, rebounding or assists.

Prahalis’ 10.2 ppg is tied with Purdue’s Brittany Rayburn for the lead among all freshmen in the Big Ten and is 23rd overall among all conference players. She also is among the league leaders in steals (1.88) and assist/turnover ratio (+1.46).

Senior guard Ashlee Trebilcock is second in the Big Ten in 3FG percentage (.500, 24-48) while classmate Star Allen is second in the Big Ten in FG percentage (.558).

Junior Shavelle Little, the 2008 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, is third in the league with 2.69 steals per game. She has a total of 19 steals through her five Big Ten games, a Big Ten-best 3.8 per game in conference action.

The 19th-ranked Buckeyes have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for 89-consecutive weeks.

Ohio State owns the seventh-best winning percentage (.838) and has the ninth-most wins (109) in all of women’s basketball during the last four full years.

Ohio State owns the most Big Ten titles with 11. This season they are attempting to become the first team to win five in a row since the Ohio State teams from 1983-87.

Ohio State has had four Big Ten Player of the Year selections the last four seasons; Jessica Davenport in 2005-07 and Jantel Lavender in 2008.

Scouting Illinois
The Fighting Illini are looking to snap a nine-game losing skid against the Buckeyes Thursday. Their last win was Dec. 12 at Milwaukee which was followed by a nine-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina at the Carolina Challenge in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Illinois is led by All-Big Ten performer Jenna Smith who leads the team and ranks among the league leaders with 17.4 ppg and 8.3 rebounds. Lacey Simpson leads the team with 8.7 rebounds and ranks first in the Big Ten with 3.05 steals in all games played. She also turns in about 11 points per game.

Jolette Law is in her second season as head coach with a 24-30 record heading into Thursday. She led the Illini to the Big Ten tournament championship game last season and to the third round of the postseason WNIT with a 20-15 overall record.

The Series
Ohio State leads the all-time series 37-17, winning the last meeting in Champaign Jan. 12 to snap a two-game losing skid to UI, which included a 64-58 loss in the quarterfinal round of the 2008 Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Ohio State has a 19-3 lead in games played in Columbus. The last time Illinois won in Columbus was Jan. 11, 2001 when UI won by two points, 75-73. Jim Foster has never lost to Illinois at home (4-0).

Last Time Against The Illini
Illinois native Brittany Johnson put on one of her best performances of the season with 14 points on four 3-pointers and Jantel Lavender and Star Allen each recorded double-doubles for the second game in a row as No. 15 Ohio State won its eighth-straight game with a 67-35 win over Illinois at Assembly Hall Jan. 12. Ashlee Trebilcock added 11 points and Samantha Prahalis dished out a game-high nine assists for the Buckeyes. Lavender finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds and Allen’s night included 13 points and 12 boards. The Buckeyes overcame a slow start and 12 turnovers to lead 27-20 at the half. Ohio State shot 36 percent from the field before the break, but held Illinois to just 29 percent shooting. The Buckeyes trailed 12-7 with 11 minutes left in the first half before going on a 15-2 run to take a 22-14 lead, the last nine of which came in transition. Ohio State would eventually lead 27-20 behind 10 points and seven boards from Lavender and seven points and 10 caroms from Allen. The Buckeyes outrebounded the Illini 26-15 in the first half and allowed just four offensive rebounds. Ohio State went on a 12-2 run to start the second period to put the game away, not allowing Illinois its first goal until almost 7 minutes in. The Buckeyes shot 64 percent from the field in the second half, and outrebounded the Illini 46-27 for the game. The Buckeyes outscored the Illini 40-15 in the second half overall. Jenna Smith led Illinois with 14 points. Lacey Simpson added 12 points for the Illini, who were 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

Last Time Out – Buckeyes Suffer Rare Home Defeat
Ashley Ellis-Milan scored 17 points, including two tie-breaking free throws with 17.3 seconds left, leading Minnesota to a 59-56 win over No. 15 Ohio State for its first win on the Buckeyes’ home court. The Golden Gophers never trailed after the 9:31 mark of the first half, although the Buckeyes pulled even twice in the second half. Minnesota was 0-23 at Ohio State. After Prahalis tied it with two free throws with 35.1 seconds left, Ellis-Milan hit three foul shots down the stretch. The Buckeyes were playing without starting point guard Shavelle Little, out with a left knee injury. Minnesota, ahead 26-20 at the half, watched as the Buckeyes pulled even with an 8-0 run fueled by Prahalis’ drives and passes into the paint for power moves by Lavender. But Ohm ended that drought with a 3 for a 40-37 lead with 11:18 left — the Gophers’ seventh 3-pointer in eight attempts. Every time Ohio State made a move at the Gophers’ lead, the Gophers responded. With Minnesota ahead 54-47 and under 3 minutes left, the Buckeyes made a final run. Prahalis hit a long 3 before Star Allen drove the lane for a left-handed layup. After Fox, the shot clock ticking down, hit a 10-foot jumper, the teams traded possessions. The Buckeyes got it back with just over 48 seconds left when Fox was called for pushing off on an inbounds pass to her.  Ohio State came out of a timeout and Prahalis drove the lane and was fouled, hitting both shots to tie it again. At the other end, Minnesota worked it around the perimeter before Ellis-Milan was fouled with 17.3 seconds left on a power move under the basket. She hit both shots for a 58-56 lead. The Buckeyes looked inside to Lavender but Prahalis’ pass was too high and sailed out of bounds with 5.9 seconds remaining. Ellis-Milan was then fouled on the inbounds pass and hit one of the two free throws.

OSU Tough at Home Under Foster
Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 75-5 record at home and a 65-4 record at Value City Arena (9-1 at St. John Arena, 1-0 at Nationwide Arena). The Buckeyes have posted two perfect home records under head coach Jim Foster, going 14-0 in his first year in 2002-03 and 17-0 in 2004-05.
Buckeyes at home in the Foster Era:
2002-03   14-0
2003-04   13-4
2004-05   17-0
2005-06   16-1
2006-07   16-1
2007-08   16-1
2008-09   10-2
Total       102-9

Fast Starts
The Buckeyes are 12-0 this season when leading at the half and 1-0 when tied (Dayton). The Buckeyes biggest halftime deficit was 10 points at Nebraska before rallying for a 69-65 win Dec. 6. Ohio State trailed by only four points at the half in losses to UNC and Auburn.

Nearly Perfect
In the win over Delaware State Dec. 16, Jantel Lavender was 12-of-13 from the field for a 92.3 percent clip. It tied for the second-highest FG percentage by a Buckeye since Tracey Hall shot an identical 92.3 percent (12-of-13) Nov. 29, 1984 in a win over Cincinnati. Jessica Davenport holds the Ohio State record for FG percentage (minimum 10 attempts) in a game when she shot 10-for-10 in a 73-67 win over West Virginia in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

Making a Living at the Stripe
Ohio State has spent a lot of time this season at the free throw line and have made more at the line than opponents have attempted. Ohio State is 250-of-333 (.751) while opponents are 158-of-221 (.715). Nine times this season Ohio State has made more FT’s than opponents have attempted.

Make More, Win More
The Buckeyes are 12-1 this season when they make more free throws than their opponents and were 18-0 last season when accomplishing that feat. They are 2-2 this season when they make fewer from the line. The only time Ohio State has made more and lost was Jan. 15 against Minnesota when Ohio State was 20-of-22 at the line to Minnesota’s 4-of-6. However, Ohio State was outrebounded in that game, 34-21.

Tickets On Sale Now for NCAA First and Second Rounds in Columbus
The Ohio State University is proud to be hosting the First and Second Rounds of the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 21 and 23 at Nationwide Arena. All-session passes are on sale now. Adult all-session tickets are available for $32.50. Student All-Session tickets are $21.50. Single session tickets go on sale March 18, 2009.
Two easy ways to order tickets:
In person at the Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office (located in SE corner of the Jerome Schottenstein Center near corner of Lane Ave. and Olentangy River Rd.) or call 1-800-GO-BUCKS.

Big Ten Conference Extends Special $45 Ticket Offer for 2009 Women’s Basketball Tournament
The Big Ten Conference has extended its special $45 all-session ticket promotion for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. The $20 discount, which was originally scheduled to end on Monday, January 19, will now run through Saturday, Jan. 31. All-session tickets will then be available at the regular price of $65. The women’s tournament returns to Indianapolis and Conseco Fieldhouse March 5-8, 2009. The ticket promotion is available through all 11 Big Ten university ticket offices, the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling Ticketmaster at (317) 239-5151. The 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket, along with information on tickets, travel, lodging, tournament history and more, can be found at www.bigten.org and www.indianasportscorp.com. Fans wishing to purchase all-session tickets within their university’s fan block are encouraged to contact their school’s ticket office. Ohio State’s number is 1-800-GO-BUCKS.

For the complete release, stats and player bios click the PDF above