THE BASICS Indiana is on the road to face Northwestern at 8 p.m. (EST) Thursday at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston.
ON THE AIR The game will be broadcast live on 105.1 WHCC Radio Bloomington with Jeremy Gray calling all the action. In addition, the broadcast can be accessed worldwide on the internet at iuhoosiers.com.
INJURY REPORT Senior captain Jamie Gathing will not play, as she is out for the year after sustaining a knee injury during individual workouts.
THE COACHES Fourth-year head coach Kathi Bennett leads the Hoosiers into action. Bennett has compiled a 60-52 record during her tenure in Bloomington and a 284-155 career mark in her 16 seasons as a head coach. Bennett is coming off a summer in which she served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the Pan American Games, helping the team to a silver medal.
Fifth-year head coach June Olkowski owns a 30-103 overall record during her five years in Evanston (.226 pct.), which includes a 6-69 record against Big Ten opposition (.080 pct.) Olkowski came to Northwestern after a six-year stint at Butler that resulted in a 1998 Midwestern Collegiate Conference championship.
BENNETT VS OLKOWSKI Following is a look at the series history between Kathi Bennett and June Olkowski.
Indiana leads, 4-1 A W 69-52 2000-01
H W 74-52 2001-02
H W 62-52 2002-03
A L 46-50 2002-03
H W 58-55 2003-04
WHAT IT MEANS An Indiana win would: * Complete a regular-season sweep over Northwestern, making the Wildcats the first team Indiana has swept in the regular season since the Hoosiers won a pair of games over Ohio State in 2001-02.
* Be the seventh in the last eight meetings with Northwestern, dating back to 2000. Indiana's last loss at the hands of the Wildcats was a 58-55 setback at Welsh-Ryan Arena last year.
* Mark the third Indiana win in the last four meetings between the two squads played in Evanston.
* Snap a five-game losing streak for Indiana (the longest of its kind for the Hoosiers this year).
An Indiana loss would: * Mark the first time since 1998 and 1999 that the Hoosiers lost consecutive games in Evanston. Northwestern claimed a 50-46 victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena last season.
* Give Northwestern its first win against a Big Ten opponent since last year's win over Indiana, snapping a 14-game Big Ten skid for the Wildcats.
* Improve Northwestern's record in the all-time series between the two teams to 29-23. The Wildcats own a winning record in the all-time series over Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
* Extend Indiana's losing streak to six games, the longest since a seven-game slump extending from January 16-February 9 of last year.
DEMUTH MILESTONE Junior Jenny DeMuth will soon become the 18th player in Indiana history to score 1,000 career points. DeMuth has 966 career points entering Thursday's game at Northwestern. In the likely event she reaches the 1,000-point plateau this year, DeMuth would become only the eighth player in school history to accomplish the feat in her junior year.
LAST MEETING Forced to play overtime without its leading scorer and top all-around player, Indiana pulled out a 58-55 overtime victory over Northwestern at Assembly Hall on January 18.
The play of Cyndi Valentin down the stretch was a key for Indiana, as the Big Ten's highest-scoring sophomore finished with a career-high 24 points, with seven points coming in overtime to give Indiana its sixth win in seven home games this year. Of Valentin's 24 points, 22 came after halftime.
Jenny DeMuth continued her season-long tear, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds for her sixth double-double this year. DeMuth added a season-high five assists before fouling out.
Angela Hawkins scored 11 points and grabbed 11 boards in her first start since December 20.
LAST TIME OUT Indiana comes off a 64-52 defeat at the hands of Illinois at Assembly Hall Sunday.
The Hoosiers led for the bulk of the first half, but a 40-foot three-pointer by Tiffanie Guthrie at the buzzer sent the two teams into the locker room tied at 28.
The second half belonged to the Illini, as they outscored the Hoosiers, 36-24 to seal the victory.
Jenny DeMuth had 17 points to lead Indiana, with Cyndi Valentin adding 15 and Sarah McKay 10. Angela Hawkins had eight points and a season-high 15 rebounds. Cindy Dallas led the way for Illinois with 19 points and 11 rebounds, with Angelina Williams adding 16 points and eight rebounds.
NOTING THE LAST GAME Indiana's bench was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting from the field in Sunday's loss to Illinois.
BENCH WOES The lack of production from the Indiana bench has been a huge problem in the last five games. When Leah Enterline is excluded (she no longer comes off the bench), Indiana's reserves have shot a combined 9-for-51 from the field (.176 pct) in the last five games (all losses).
Bench Production (Enterline Excluded)
Opponent Points FG Pct. Illinois 0 0-for-8 (.000 pct)
Penn State 3 1-for-5 (.200 pct)
Ohio State 2 1-for-9 (.111 pct)
Minnesota 6 3-for-16 (.188 pct)
Purdue 9 4-for-13 (.308 pct)
5-game total 20 9-for-51 (.176 pct)
MURDERER'S ROW The Hoosiers have lost five straight games, including a four-game stretch in the schedule in which three games were played against top-15 teams (No. 8 Purdue, at No. 14 Minnesota and vs. No. 5 Penn State. In addition, Indiana faced Ohio State in Columbus. The Buckeyes were receiving votes in that week's A.P. poll.
Of the Hoosiers' remaining five games, only one is against a team that currently ranks in the top-25 (No. 20/18 Michigan State).
FRESHMEN TURNING CORNER Sarah McKay and Leah Enterline have combined to register five double-figure scoring efforts in the last four games.
In fact, over the last three games, McKay averages 10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game.
On the year, Indiana's five freshmen have combined for 14 double-figure scoring efforts.
HELPING FIND THE CURE A $10,000 donation was made by the Vera Bradley Foundation to the IU Foundation to help fund breast cancer research at the Hoosiers' game against Purdue at Assembly Hall on January 25.
The original goal of the game was for Vera Bradley to donate $10,000 if 10,000 fans were in attendance. However, a furious snowstorm that buried the Bloomington area with five inches of snow and made the roads extremely hazardous the morning of the game kept the crowd at 7,110. With over 10,000 tickets sold prior to the day of the event, the Vera Bradley Foundation still moved forward with the donation, citing the fact that had the weather cooperated, the attendance goal would have easily been reached.
DEFENSE THE DIFFERENCE Following is a breakdown comparing Indiana's performance in its 10 wins against its 12 losses. It is clear that defense and turnovers are two of the biggest factors.
Points scored per game in wins 69.4
Points allowed per game in wins 56.1
Points scored per game in losses 59.2
Points allowed per game in losses 71.8
Field goal percentage in wins .408
Field goal percentage in losses .379
Field goal percentage defense in wins .379
Field goal percentage defense in losses .479
Turnover margin in wins +2.4
Turnover margin in losses -2.2
DEMUTH STARTS WITH "D" Jenny DeMuth had four steals last game against Illinois and had seven steals against Iowa earlier in the year, setting a new career high and matching the fourth-highest single-game total in school history.
Ranking third in the Big Ten with 2.73 steals per game, DeMuth also has a pair of six steal games this year (vs. Wisconsin and Cornell) to go with two five-steal efforts (vs. Western Illinois and North Texas.)
DeMuth has 60 steals on the year. She was the team leader in steals last year with 50. On her current pace, DeMuth would finish the year with 74 steals, a mark that would rank fourth on Indiana's single-season chart and would be the highest figure since Pam Fritz made 77 steals in 1989.
DEMUTH LEADS THE WAY Averaging 18.6 points per game, Jenny DeMuth is on pace to score 503 points this year, a mark that would put her at 1,059 points for her career. If DeMuth stays on pace, 503 points would be the seventh-highest single-season total in school history.
DEMUTH HIGHLIGHTS Kodak/WBCA All-America nominee Jenny DeMuth has earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors twice this year, once after scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against Western Illinois. With the Hoosiers trailing by 16 with 10:55 remaining in the contest, DeMuth went on a 17-0 run by herself to give Indiana the lead and set up the eventual IU victory.
She was the Big Ten Player of the Week after earning all-tournament and tournament MVP honors at the Indiana Classic in addition to being an all-tournament team selection at the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.
The Highland, Ind., native scored 20 or more points 10 times and has six double-doubles on the year.
DEMUTH'S BREAKOUT YEAR Jenny DeMuth is enjoying the biggest breakthrough season of any Big Ten player. Following is a comparison of Jenny DeMuth's stats this year compared to her first two seasons:
VALENTIN LEADS BIG TEN Bloomington native Cyndi Valentin leads all Big Ten sophomores in scoring, averaging 14.9 points per game. In addition, Valentin leads all Big Ten players in free throw percentage at .906 pct.
Big Ten Sophomore Leaders
Points Per Game 1) Cyndi Valentin (Indiana) 14.9
2) Lindsay Bowen (Michigan State) 13.5
3) Ashley Josephson (Wisconsin) 12.5
4) Liz Shimek (Michigan State) 11.0
5) Ifeoma Okwonkwo (Northwestern) 10.0
COMBINING FORCES Among tandems in which both players return next year, DeMuth and Valentin are the highest-scoring in the Big Ten.
Big Ten's Highest-Scoring Duos* 1) J. DeMuth/C. Valentin (Indiana) 33.5
2) A. Williams/T. Guthrie (Illinois) 30.9
3) C. Matter/J. Davenport (Ohio State) 26.4
4) T. Wright/J. Strom (Penn State) 24.9
5) L. Bowen/L. Shimek (Michigan State) 24.5
* Both players in the duo must return to their respective teams next season.
DYNAMIC DUO Jenny DeMuth and Cyndi Valentin are the top scorers on this year's Indiana squad. The two players have combined to score 737 of Indiana's 1405 points (52.5 percent).
The two have combined to register 15 20-point or more scoring games and score 20 or more points in the same game on four separate occasions (vs. NC State, Western Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio State).
IU AMONG NATION'S YOUNGEST Indiana is the fourth-youngest team in the nation in terms of average age of players and the youngest team in the nation among the BCS conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC) Team Avg. Age 1. Wofford 18.77
2. Loyola (Md.) 18.8
3. Utah State 18.9
4. Indiana 19.0
4. Hawaii 19.0
6. Texas Tech 19.08
7. Appalachian State 19.1
8. Central Florida 19.2
8. Michigan State 19.2
9. Northern Arizona 19.3
9. New Hampshire 19.3
MCKAY SETS FROSH RECORD Sarah McKay is emerging as a name to remember for Indiana. Standing 6-7 and only a freshman, McKay averages 2.6 blocked shots per game against Big Ten opponents and set a new Indiana single-game freshman record with her six-block performance at Illinois. McKay is on pace to block 49 shots this year, a mark that would be a new Indiana freshman record.
MCKAY EXPLODES Freshman Sarah McKay had a huge day against Ball State in the non-conference finale. McKay scored 24 points (the sixth-best single-game mark ever for a freshman at Indiana) and hauled in 16 rebounds (the fifth-highest single-game mark ever for a freshman at Indiana).
Her 24-point effort against Ball State came on the heels of a 19-point performance against Arkansas two games prior and a nine-point, 10-rebound showing against Western Illinois immediately before.
McKay started the season on the Hoosier bench, but has worked her way into the regular rotation and eventually into the starting lineup.
Over a three game span vs. Arkansas, WIU and Ball State, McKay averaged 17.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
McKay is one of three freshmen to start for IU this year.
ENTERLINE SETS RECORD When Leah Enterline dished out eight assists at NC State on December 14, she established a new Indiana freshman record, surpassing the mark of seven assists, accomplished by Heather Cassady in 1999 and Kristi Green twice in 1996.
NOT OVER 'TILL ITS OVER Indiana has demonstrated the ability to come back when down by large margins on multiple occasions this year. Following is a look at the Hoosiers' most significant comebacks.
Nov. 28 - IU trailed Mississippi State, 55-34 (21-point deficit) with 12:24 remaining before going on a 33-13 run to bring the score to 68-67 with 19 seconds remaining. The Hoosiers had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but a costly traveling violation gave the ball back to the Bulldogs. With the shot clock turned off, IU was forced to foul and send MSU to the line, where the Bulldogs went on to ice their 70-67 win.
Dec. 7 - Indiana trailed at Georgetown, 23-9 in the first half before erupting behind Leah Enterline's career-high 17 points (15 in the deciding second half) to claim a 72-62 win.
Dec. 22 - IU trailed Western Illinois, 54-38 (16-point deficit) with 11:33 remaining before Jenny DeMuth went on a 17-0 run by herself to give Indiana a 55-54 lead with 6:23 remaining and set up an 81-74 Indiana win.
Feb. 1 - Indiana trailed at Ohio State by as many as 17 points in the second half and found themselves down 16 with the score 67-51 and 3:46 remaining, but went on a 14-4 run to close out the game, eventually falling 71-65.
NEXT GAME IU is back home to host Iowa at 2 p.m. (EST) Sunday at Assembly Hall.
The game will be broadcast live along the Indiana Women's Basketball Radio Network, with Jeremy Gray calling all the action. The radio broadcast can also be accessed on the internet at iuhoosiers.com.
The game will be televised on WTIU, with John McGuire handling play-by-play and Jennifer Forney providing analysis.