The Iowa Hawkeyes (22-9, 12-8) could not capitalize on a strong start and fell to the Illinois Fighting Illini (22-8, 15-15) 74-72, which clinched a shared Big Ten Championship with Wisconsin. Free throws were the story, as Iowa went 10/22 from the line, including 6/16 in the second half. Not gonna win many games that way.
Keegan Murray led the way with 22 on 7/22 shooting and 11 rebounds. Tony Perkins had another excellent game as a starter with 17 on 6/13, 12 (!!!) rebounds, and five assists. Kris was Iowa’s final double digit scorer, at 13.
The first half went about as well as one could hope despite some empty offense. Perkins took the reigns after Illinois made a couple baskets to open the action with two baskets and an assist to get a 9-6 lead.
Iowa’s bench came to play, as it helped spur a 13-0 run to stretch the Hawkeye lead to 32-19. Sandfort was particularly excellent, with five points amidst that run, as Fran adjusted his rotation in his son’s absence.
The Hawks were able to get the lead to 15 after Perkins’ second made three of the night but Illinois’ 9-0 run to close the half made it a 43-37 game at half.
In the second, the Illini continued their torrid pace, snagging a lead inside of five minutes on three Alfonso Plummer free throws. A Murray twin run was able to get the lead back and push it to eight, with them going 4/4 from the floor in that time.
Perkins’ driving ability fouled Curbelo out but he could only make two of three free throws, which cut the deficit to two. Excellent defense inside of a minute allowed Iowa a couple opportunities to get the win. The first was a straight away three from Keegan Murray. He was fouled on the lower body but could only make one of three at the line with 15 seconds left.
Da’Monte Williams went one-of-two after Iowa fouled him after a frenetic press which forced Brad Underwood to call a timeout. Fran drew up a final play which had three guys touch the ball with a pretty good chance to score. Perkins swung to Keegan who swung to Kris wide open in the corner, but it clanged off the rim.
Tough end to a tough game.
- Iowa lost the rebounding battle, 41-38*, including 14 from Kofi Cockburn (7 offensive). He had his way down low, which is an impossibility from a refereeing perspective.
- The refereeing, broad strokes, was fine. After all, Iowa shot 22 free throws in opposing territory and fouled out Andre Curbelo. But there were some real question marks on no calls, including the first of two closeouts from Cockburn. Keegan burned the possession launching a shot out of bounds after getting hit. Whatever.
- Tough game for Jordan Bohannon, as he was in two foul jail and finished with just 14 minutes. Iowa was -12 in his time on the floor.
- As always, we end Big Ten play relieved for it to be over. (Or is that just me?) The State Farm Center certainly seemed to rattle Iowa at the line and applied a certain tentativeness to Iowa’s game. They went just 10/19 at the rim, and the Murrays seemed a little wary driving, despite having Kofi on them at times.
- Hawks have the 5 seed and will play the winner of Northwestern/Nebraska on Thursday, I think. I’ve updated with the bracket. They’ll play at ~2p God’s Time.
(* updated rebounding stats because I tallied defensive only, before)