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Iowa 83, Illinois 62: Dunkaroo

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That was fun!

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Illinois vs Iowa David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa men’s basketball team hit a team-record 12 three-pointers in the Big Ten Tournament en route to a 83-62 … rout … of Illinois. The 21-point win is also the largest margin of victory ever for an Iowa team in the BTT.

Four different players scored in the double digits for the Hawkeyes, and it seemed like just about every player played to his potential in what was a refreshing 40 minutes of basketball.

The first half was a genuinely enjoyable back and forth affair that started off with a tenacious Iowa defense that surged the Hawkeyes to an early 10-2 lead. Iowa forced two shot clock violations in the first 2 ½ minutes of the game and each turnover led to points.

Predictably, the defense snapped a bit and Illinois went on an 11-0 run bookended by three-pointers from Tevian Jones. Iowa, now down 13-10, responded by going on an 11-0 run of its own, buoyed by two three’s from Nicholas Baer.

Iowa would protect its lead for the remainder of the half, despite some weird technical foul thing between Connor McCaffery and Andres Feliz. Iowa came out of the scuffle with two free throws from Jordan Bohannon, and Iowa closed the half up 37-31 on a 7-2 run and a murdered rim from Tyler Cook.

The Iowa offense really clicked in the second half, with a scoring affair we haven’t really seen since the last time the Hawkeyes played Illinois. The Illini sorta did shoot themselves in the foot by committing five fouls in the first 2 ½ minutes of the frame, though that did lead to a lot of points in the long run; Iowa made it to the charity stripe just 11 times, but hit on 9 of those chances.

Iowa went on an early 10-4 scoring run and used a mix of 1-3-1 and 2-3 that really worked. Illinois committed 15 turnovers in the game thanks to clogged passing lanes and hands in faces.

The Illini never really got in sniffing distance throughout. A Jones 3 brought the score to 47-40 five minutes into the half, but Connor McCaffery made a three of his own immediately afterwards to drive the dagger in. And, well, Baer sorta happened. He led all scorers with 17 points, on a 5-6 outing from deep. He was the MVP tonight, scrambling for loose balls, collecting his own rebound and just being the senior leader this team needs.

The rest of the game was a showcase of dunks from Joe Wieskamp and Cook, Baer raids, 16 assists (!) and even a three-pointer Luka Garza can call his own. The Hawkeyes ended the game shooting 50 percent from the field, and sat at an actually better 52 percent from 3 at a 12-23 clip.

The Hawkeyes have earned a rematch with Michigan on Friday night in the quarterfinals. If the team we saw Thursday shows up, they’ll be tough to beat.

Other Notes:

  • Wish we coulda had this team a couple weeks ago!
  • Iowa only turned it over eight times. They should do that more!
  • Joe Wieskamp looked a little back to normal in a 13-point 7-rebound affair. He shot 5-7 from the floor and was another scoring catalyst along with Baer.
  • Tyler Cook and Ryan Kriener were the other Iowa players to score in the double digits. Luka Garza was the only big who didn’t really thrive tonight; he’s been pretty hot and cold in March.
  • That was fun!