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Iowa 81, Illinois 79: Orange Krushed

Iowa rallies in the second half, then holds on to defeat the rival Illini

Down by double-digits in the second half, things looked to be going downhill for the Iowa Hawkeyes as they hosted the Illinois Fighting Illini in Carver-Arena. Instead, the home team took advantage of being in the double-bonus on the back of a career day from Tony Perkins to come back — and hold on against Illinois, 81-79.

After scoring only seven points in the first half, Tony Perkins absolutely exploded in the second, scoring 25 points on his way to 32 total points, setting a new career high for the junior. Not only did Perkins absolutely singe the Illini from midrange, but he was huge at the free throw line, going 15-16 from the stripe. Kris Murray was Iowa’s second leading scorer, with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Filip Rebraca logged 13 points, and Payton Sandfort scored 9 — including the final go ahead 3 for Iowa — off the bench.

It also was a relatively successful day for the Hawkeyes from long range, going 7-19 from deep, but the free throw line was where it mattered most, with Iowa making 26-30. Rebounding was a struggle on the defensive end, but Connor McCaffery’s last second grab off the purposefully missed Illinois free throw was all that mattered.

The Illini got things rolling in the scoring column with a 3-pointer, which was met with a Murray 3, but the Illini were able to keep the lead each time. It was a low scoring affair early, with the Illini holding a 12-9 lead after six minute sof game time had elapsed. Patrick McCaffery off the bench gave Iowa its first lead with just under 13 minutes in the first half, but Illinois responded immediately.

From the 12 minute point of the first half, it was a back-and-forth affair, as both teams started to trade baskets, until a Sandfort pull up 3-pointer in transition gave Iowa a 23-18 lead, its largest of the day thus far. The Illini did not roll over though, cutting into Iowa’s small lead and re-taking the lead just a few minutes later with a 3-pointer to go up 30-27. Both teams were they deadlocked in a cold spell at 32-29 as the half drew to a close, until Illinois quickly took advantage of Iowa’s bad shot selection and lack of rbounding effort to go on a 6-0 run to go up 36-29.

Instead, Iowa ended the half on a 6-0 run of their own, capped off by a Murray 3-pointer at the buzzer, to end the half just trailing by 1, 36-35.

Murray started off the second half scoring as well, quickly giving Iowa back the lead with a nice jump shot, rebounding on the other end, and finding Rebraca for a slam. But it didn’t last, as the Illini ripped off an 11-0 scoring run to take back a 47-39 lead, forcing an Iowa timeout. After Rebraca’s slam, Iowa went over 5 minutes of game time without scoring a field goal.

Iowa was able to cut the Illinois lead down to 2, but as. they had all game, the Illini immediately respond to Iowa’s thread and took the lead right back up, 52-47. It was an uphill battle for the Hawks from there, but they were able to cut the lead down to 55-53, thanks to foul trouble on the Illini’s part, but again, Illinois responded to the Hawkeye threat.

The Hawkeyes got into the double-bonus with just under 10 minutes to play, and used it to their advantage to cut into the Illini lead at the line, and Sandfort capped off Iowa’s response 7-0 scoring run with a 3 to tie things up at 62. But the Illini foul trouble got the best of them, as Perkins gave Iowa back the lead at 66-65 from the charity stripe with 6 minutes left thanks to the Hawkeye foul advantage.

Perkins was huge down this stretch, both from the field and at the line, as his career day continued and Iowa fought neck and neck with the Illini at his hands.

Sandfort then broke things open for Iowa with a 3 off a beautiful set of passes to go up 79-76 with just over a minute left. Illinois missed the tying shot on the other end, the Hawkeyes grabbed the board, but missed at the other end. Thankfully, Illinois couldn’t convert in the fast break and Iowa again grabbed the rebound, Things were locked at 80-78 Iowa with 20 seconds left. Iowa used up both its timeouts and bled 10 seconds off the clock.

Perkins went to the line on the other end of the floor after a beautiful inbounds pass from Connor, but went 1-1, and Iowa fouled the Illini on the other end of the floor trying to rebound, with 1.1 second left. The Illini purposefully missed the second free throw, but Connor McCaffery grabbed the board and sealed the win.


It’s another solid win for this Iowa team for so many reasons, first of which is that it’s the first win over Illinois in its last 3 matches, all of which were decided by a total of six points between them.

If only the Orange Krush could have been in person to see their team fail. Alas.