Preview: Lady Raiders vs. Fighting Illini

After a 10-day break, the Lady Raiders are back on the court today to take on the Fighting Illini.

The practice gym has been the only type of the court the Lady Raiders have seen since their last actual game back on December 7 against UT-Arlington.

No. 15/20 Texas Tech (8-0) returns to the hardwood at 1 p.m. today to take on Illinois as a part of the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge in the United Center in Chicago.

Getting out of the practice gym and back onto the court will be nice, Tech junior Casey Morris said, and they are ready to play in a real game again.

"Yeah we've been out and practicing the whole time," she said. "It's good to practice and work on stuff, but the worst time is when you have a lot of time before the next game, we're all getting anxious and ready to play.

"So we're excited."

While the Lady Raiders have not only been beating opponents, but beating them handily averaging wins by a margin of 30.6 points, the Fighting Illini have had a completely different start to their season.

Illinois (4-5) is just now starting to get things turned around as it is riding a two-game winning streak heading into this meeting with Tech.

The Fighting Illini are coming off wins against Clemson and most recently Illinois State on December 7.

This marks the second Big 10 squad that the Lady Raiders have faced this season, Tech faced Penn State earlier this season winning 70-66, marking their lowest margin of victory on the year.

When comparing Penn State and Illinois, Morris said the Fighting Illini reminds them of the Lady Lions in how they crash the boards and get a ton of rebounds.

For the Lady Raider Basketball program this marks the first time they have faced Illinois ever, but for Tech head coach Kristy Curry, this is an old foe from her days back at Purdue.

While at the helm of the Lady Boilermakers, Curry went 10-1 against Illinois, and she said this is a good Illinois squad and will be a good challenge for her squad.

"We're looking forward to getting on the road, it's going to be a great challenge for us," she said. "I mean they're extremely athletic, have played a tough road schedule and it'll be another good opportunity for us to play against a quality opponent."

Now besides the game being important considering the Lady Raiders can remain as only one of three teams in the Big 12 Conference to be undefeated, but it's also a nice trip to Chicago.

Tech junior guard Monique Smalls, who leads the Big 12 and the country in assist to turnover ratio – 7 to 1 - said she is excited to go to the Windy City because she has never been there and hopes for some snow to play in as well.

Getting to go on trips like this is about the games but also about what they get to do away from the game as a team, Smalls said, and they enjoy these trips.

"We have a lot of fun because it's a lot of team bonding," she said. "That's where all our memories come from, yes it's the games, but your memories come from what you do outside the court with each other."

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