Illinois prepares for Purdue, still seeks first conference win

Sophomore+guard+Jeanae+Terry+presses+forward+during+the+game+against+Michigan+State+on+Thursday.+The+Illini+will+face+off+against+Purdue+today+at+2+p.m.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan State Athletics

Sophomore guard Jeanae Terry presses forward during the game against Michigan State on Thursday. The Illini will face off against Purdue today at 2 p.m.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

Illinois (2-11, 0-10 in conference play) returns to the State Farm Center to take on rival Purdue (6-8, 3-7) Sunday following a pair of road losses this past week. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

Illinois lost to Wisconsin, 69-57, Jan. 31 and Michigan State, 81-60, Thursday and is currently the only Big Ten team seeking its first conference win of the season.

The Boilermakers come to Champaign following an 80-70 loss to Penn State on Jan. 31 and a 77-72 loss at Minnesota on Jan. 28. The Boilermakers’ last conference was a 56-55 win against Wisconsin on Jan. 21.

Picking up conference win No. 1 against Purdue is a tall task for the Illini. Historically, Purdue has dominated the series and the Boilermakers hold a 61-18 record against Illinois.

Not only would a win against Purdue be the team’s first conference win of the season, but defeating the Boilermakers would also be a first in head coach Nancy Fahey’s tenure at Illinois. Fahey began coaching at Illinois in 2017, and the Illini’s last win in the series came in 2015, a 47-46 win in West Lafayette.

Purdue junior guard Kayana Traylor leads the Boilermakers in scoring with 13.9 points per game. Slowing down Traylor is a key part of Illinois’ strategy against Purdue and the team plans to work collectively to curb her scoring.

“It’s a (team) effort when it comes to guarding her,” said sophomore forward Kennedi Myles.

Coming into the game, Fahey said the team has focused its efforts on offense this week. After scoring a season-high 76 points against Penn State Jan. 28, the team hasn’t scored more than 60 points in subsequent games.

While the team takes a look at the offense, the other end of the court has also been a focus.

“I think the one thing we’ve noticed, we’ve had too many players singularly take and have career nights against us,” Fahey said.

Though the Illini’s objective is to slow down Purdue and get their first conference win, it’s going to be a collective effort to make it happen. But, the team is set to give it their best shot.

“Just going out there tomorrow, playing hard (is) all we can ask for,” Myles said.

 

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