|Minnesota (13-14, 5-8) vs. Illinois (10-16, 4-9)|
|Date||Thursday, February 16, 2012|
|Time||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Location||Williams Arena (14,625)|
|Series Record||Minnesota trails 23-33|
|Last Meeting||L, 67-72 (Feb. 2, 2012)|
|Television||BTN.com (Matt Nelson, Andy Kimball)|
|Radio||1500 ESPN (Listen Online)|
|(Corbu Stathes, Lynnette Sjoquist)|
|Live Stats||Click Here|
|Game Notes||Minnesota | Illinois|
|Season Statistics||Minnesota | Illinois|
|Social Media||Facebook | @GophersWBB|
• The Gophers host Senior Night at Williams Arena Thursday night, as the 7:00 p.m. contest vs. Illinois is the final home game for the squad this season.
• At the conclusion of Thursday's contest, the Gophers will recognize seniors Kiara Buford, Brianna Mastey, Nicole Mastey and Jackie Voigt with a postgame ceremony. WATCH a roundtable video interview with the Gopher seniors!
• Following its upset victory vs. No. 16 Nebraska Monday night, Minnesota currently sits in eighth place in Big Ten Conference standings with a 5-8 league mark and a 13-14 overall record.
• The Maroon and Gold is 3-7 in its last 10 outings, picking up wins vs. Michigan State, No. 9/9 Ohio State and the Cornhuskers.
• Ten of the Gophers' 13 wins this season have come at Williams Arena, with Minnesota winning only one true road game at Northwestern in early January.
• Minnesota has duo averaging double-digit scoring, with Rachel Banham pacing the team with a scoring average of 16.1 points per game, while senior Kiara Buford is averaging 13.7 points per game.
• Banham and Buford also average double-digit points in Big Ten Conference play. Banham ranks fifth in league standings with 18.6 points per game and 19th with 5.9 rebounds per game, and Buford is 19th in the rankings with 13.7 points per game.
• Banham also leads the squad in field goals (163), three-point field goals (42) and three-point field goal percentage (.442), while Buford is the team-leader in free throws (88), assists (86) and steals (55).
• Loberg ranks first on the team and 10th in the league with 6.6 rebounds per game overall, while sitting at No. 20 in league-only games with a 5.7 rebounds-per-game average. Kionna Kellogg paces the Gophers on the boards in Big Ten games with an average of 5.8 rebounds per game.
• Illinois enters Thursday's contest ranked 10th in league standings with a 4-9 Big Ten record and a 10-16 record on the season.
• The Fighting Illini have been playing hot as of late, winning four of its last six contests, which includes a victory vs. Ohio State on Feb. 9.
• Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Karisma Penn is the Fighting Illini's leading scorer on the year, boasting a scoring average of 14.1 points per game, while Kersten Magrum follows close behind with an 11.8 points-per-game average.
• Penn also paces Illinois in rebounding average at 7.4 boards per game and in total blocks with 59 on the season, good for second in conference standings.
• Thanks to Penn, the Fighting Illini rank third in the Big Ten Conference standings with a 5.3 blocks-per-game average. Five different players have 10 or more blocks on the year.
• Lydia McCully is the team-leader with 88 assists and 51 steals, while she also averages 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds overall.
• The Gophers are 23-33 all-time when facing off with the Fighting Illini, which includes a 14-11 clip in Minneapolis and an 8-20 record in Champaign. When facing off with each other at a neutral site, the Maroon and Gold trails Illinois, 2-1 in the series.
• Thursday's contest will be the second between the two squads this season, with the Fighting Illini claiming a 72-67 win on their home court on Feb. 2.
• The last time the Gophers defeated Illinois was on Jan. 3, 2009. In the 52-48 road victory, Kiara Buford, then a freshman, scored eight late points, including a decisive three-pointer in the final minute, and finished the contest with a team-high 14 points.
• Minnesota has dropped its last five meetings with the Fighting Illini.
• The Gophers' last home win against Illinois came on on Feb. 7, 2008, a 61-56 victory.
Last Time Out
• Minnesota used a second-half surge to upset No. 16 Nebraska, 64-58, Monday night in Big Ten Conference action from Williams Arena.
• It marked the second time this season that the Golden Gophers defeated a ranked opponent at the Barn.
• Rachel Banham led all scorers with 21 points, as she shot 8-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, while adding four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
• Fellow guard Kiara Buford chipped in 16 points to go along with two steals and two assists. The senior was also hot from the floor, making six of her nine field goal attempts, which included a 2-for-2 performance from beyond the arch.
• In her first start of the season, senior Brianna Mastey scored nine points and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, two of which were critical in the final seconds of the contest. The guard was 7-for-10 from the free throw line and contributed two steals, an assist and a block.
• Also gathering 11 rebounds for the Gophers was Kionna Kellogg. The forward tallied six points, a block, a steal and an assist.
• As a team, the Maroon and Gold shot .434 (23-53) in the contest, upped by its .484 shooting percentage in the second half.
• The squad also won the battle on the boards, 42-31, and picked up 13 of its points at the foul line.
Up Next for the Gophers
• Minnesota will close out its regular-season schedule with two-straight road contests at No. 9/11 Ohio State Feb 23 and No. 12/17 Penn State Feb. 26.
• Both league contests will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.
• The Gophers have already faced both the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions this season, splitting the pair of contests.
• The Maroon and Gold defeated No. 9/9 Ohio State, 76-65, at Williams Arena on Jan. 29 in front of a season-best home crowd of 5,626 fans.
• Minnesota saw a 15 point first half lead disappear as it succumbed to a second-half comeback by No. 19/21 Penn State, 68-65, on Feb. 5 at the Barn.
• The Gophers last defeated Penn State on the road on Feb. 11, 2010, but their last home win against the Nittany Lions came on Dec. 6, 2009.
• The Maroon and Gold is 11-50 all-time vs. the Buckeyes and 11-23 in the series vs. Penn State.
Two Times the Fun
• The Gophers have posted wins against Top-25 opponents twice this season, both coming in conference play.
• Minnesota upset No. 16 Nebraska Monday night, 64-58, and also took down No. 9/9 Ohio State, 76-65 on Jan. 29.
• Both wins came in the friendly confines of Williams Arena, where the Gophers are 10-4 this season.
• The last time the Maroon and Gold knocked off two ranked opponents in the same season was in 2008-09. During that year, Minnesota defeated 15/13 Ohio State on the road and No. 20/24 Notre Dame in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
• The last time the Gophers defeated a pair of ranked foes in the same regular-season dates back to the 2007-08. Minnesota beat 22/21 Louisville and No. 15/15 Ohio State.
Surpassing a Former Great
• With 21 points vs. Nebraska Monday night, freshman Rachel Banham moved past former Gopher standout and fellow point guard Lindsay Whalen's rookie point total.
• Banham enters Thursday's contest with 435 points, 10 more than Whalen's final total of 425 points scored during the 2000-01 season.
• As a rookie, Whalen averaged 17.0 points per game in 25 games played.
• Banham is averaging 16.1 points per game with 27 contests under her belt.
Game Preview: Gophers at Northwestern
Sunday afternoon on BTN Minnesota will face the Wildcats for the second time this season.
Outside the Paint with Karley Barnes
The Gophers center talked with GopherSports.com about her transfer and ACL recovery process.
Gophers Beat Rutgers for First Time
Rachel Banham and Carlie Wagner each had over 20 points as Minnesota beat Rutgers for the first time in program history