The Illini had no idea, but they were walking into an orange crush on Wednesday night. No, not the kind of Orange Krush that we saw in the dark days of the Lickliter years. Rather, this was a l'orange crush; a dunk l'orange crush, to be more specific. It was complete and utter domination by everyone's favorite redhead, as he took the game over in the second half and there was nothing Illinois could do about it.
Rayvonte Rice and Ahmad Starks tried their best to keep Illinois in the game, but Starks' threes stopped falling in the final 12 minutes of play and Rice disappeared down the stretch.
But you know who didn't disappear down the stretch? Aaron White. After Starks made his last three of the game, both he and Rice combined for 5 points, 4 fouls, and 2 turnovers in the final 12 minutes. White, meanwhile, scored 8 points, grabbed 2 defensive rebounds, and poked away 1 steal in what turned out to be a 20-point second half for him.
It was Aaron White's world on Wednesday night, and we were all just lucky to be living in it.
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.00, Illinois 0.97
First Half Possessions: 33
Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.12, Illinois 0.89
Second Half Possessions: 31
Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.06, Illinois 0.94
At 50%, shooting was clearly a positive for Iowa in this one.
(Shot charts courtesy of Shot Analytics.)
The Hawkeyes weren't particularly feeling the long twos against Illinois, but that didn't matter because they didn't shoot an inordinate amount of them.
|Iowa||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG|
Instead, Iowa took most of their shots near the rim and converted on 72% of them. Additionally, they also made almost 43% of their attempts from long range. Part of why this offense has been so much better since Big Ten play tipped is because Iowa is shooting 36.5% from downtown against the rest of the conference, compared to the 30.8% they shot in the non-conference portion of their schedule. And February has been particularly nice to them, as they have shot 39.6% from outside. Hopefully that continues.
As for Illinois, shooting wasn't quite the boon for them that it was for Iowa.
With basically no post presence for the Illini, they struggled to get the ball to the rim on a consistent basis. Instead, they settled for a lot of long jumpers.
|Illinois||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG|
Basically, when Ahmad Starks was making his threes, this Illinois offense was staying afloat. But when he and Rice went cold in the final 12 minutes of the game, that is when Iowa took a 47-46 lead and started extending it out 6-10 points for the rest of the game.
On top of Starks' ridiculous three point shooting in the first half, Iowa also missed opportunities to jump out to a bigger lead because they kept turning the ball over. Peter Jok had some issues making good passes, and Illinois' guards were getting very handsy. All of that led to Illinois racking up 8 of their 9 steals in the first half.
Off of those 8 empty possessions in the first half for Iowa, Illinois was able to follow up by scoring 14 points. The Illini started losing the ball a bit more in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but off of their 6 turnovers, Iowa only managed 4 points.
Luckily, things changed dramatically in the second half. Iowa only coughed the ball up 4 times and Illinois only managed 1 steal. More importantly, though, off of the 7 turnovers Iowa forced after halftime, they outscored Illinois 10-0 on points off of turnovers. And those final 20 minutes were enough to tip this category in Iowa's favor.
This category is almost the opposite of turnovers. Iowa was pretty well in control in the first half, but Illinois dominated the second. The Illini also dominated the second chance points, outscoring Iowa 13-3 for the game, and 8-0 after halftime. It was a less than ideal outcome for the Hawks, but since they won the other three factors, it ended up being insignificant.
Free Throw Rate
Despite coming into this game with a reputation of not putting other teams on the line, Illinois sure employed the opposite strategy against Iowa. Leron Black was his normal fouly self (4 fouls in 9 minutes LOL), but Nnanna Egwu was also in early foul trouble and ended up fouling out. Additionally, the touchiness of the Illinois guards may have earned them some steals in the first half, but it also led to a lot of fouls.
The Hawkeyes worked their way to the line for 30 free throw attempts on the night, and Aaron White had 12 of those, including 9 in the second half. It was a team effort, though, as guys like Anthony Clemmons, Mike Gesell, and Dom Uhl also earned trips to the line by attacking the rim. The team had some issues making their free throws down the stretch, which ended up making this game closer than it should have been. But the sheer amount of attempts Iowa had from the line was enough to overcome the mediocre shooting.
Overall: Iowa won 3 of 4 Factors
Rayvonte Rice was the most valuable player for Illinois, but Aaron White was the best player on the court. Iowa's star forward scored 29 of Iowa's 68 points, but adjusted game score felt his performance was so good that it was more representative of 32 of Iowa's 68 points. When you divide that by his 36 minutes on the court, his 0.90 adjusted game score per minute was tops in this game.
White finished the night with a new career high in scoring, thanks to shooting 8-13 from the field (3-4 from downtown!) and 10-12 from the line. His 29 points on 19 scoring attempts (including free throw possessions) was good for a crazy 1.55 points per scoring attempt.
On top of his scoring, White gave Iowa 9 rebounds (3 offensive) and 2 steals. But the fact that he scored 20 of Iowa's 35 second half points was his biggest contribution to the game. This was a beastly performance.
After White, this was a pretty even team effort from just about everyone who played.
Anthony Clemmons was a bright spot on both ends of the court in this one. Peter Jok's shot was not falling and he struggled to defend Illinois' physical guards, so Clemmons gave Iowa some good minutes at the one and two spots. But while Clemmons is known for being pretty good on defense, his offense was also huge plus in this one. Every single field goal that Sapp attempted came at the rim. He only got credit for going 1-1 from the field, but he also went 4-4 from the line thanks to his aggressive attacking of the basket and initiating contact. And not only was he a scorer, he was also a distributor, handing out 4 assists to his teammates.
And speaking of assists, Josh Oglesby delivered some beautiful passes to his fellow Hawkeyes, which included an alley-oop to Aaron White and a bullet of a pass into the lane that led to an easy Gabe Olaseni layup. Not only did Oglesby's passing help make up for the fact that his counterpart was having some turnover issues, his two timely three pointers also helped make up for Jok's cold night from the floor.
In addition to Aaron White, Gabe Olaseni also gave Iowa some nice production in the post in the first half by scoring 8 points. His offense cooled off after halftime, though, as he missed two bunnies near the rim. But he still gave Iowa some great defense near the rim and out on the perimeter, where he frequently hedged screens and pressured Illinois' ball-handlers.
As for Jarrod Uthoff, he was a bit jump shot-happy and struggled shooting the ball.
However, he made up for the off shooting by still giving Iowa 10 rebounds (2 offensive), 4 blocks, and 2 assists.
Finally, Mike Gesell only scored 4 points on 1-5 shooting from the floor. But his one make was this arena-exploding dunk:
Peter Jok's reaction on the bench is simply the best.
Lastly, let's do some bullet points.
- Aaron White's adjusted game score per minute of 0.90 somehow only tied for his second-best performance against legitimate competition this season. His best came when he put up 0.94 against Texas earlier this season in just 34 minutes on the court. But he also put up 0.90 in 29 minutes at home against Ohio State earlier this year. As you might recall, that was the game in which he scored 12 straight points on 6 straight possessions in the second half. For reference, here is every game for White this season, minus the Purdue game where he was injured:
- Continuing with White, he had 2 dunks against Illinois, moving his season total to 49 and extending his dunk streak to 16 games. Here is the table:
|Aaron White Dunk-O-Meter||Freshman||Sophomore||Junior||Senior||Career|
|Field Goals Made||136||140||143||127||546|
- Jarrod Uthoff has quickly become one of the most feared shot-blockers in the conference. Usually, most shot-blockers tend to be big guys in the post, but Uthoff also gets a good chunk of his blocks by swatting jump shots. They don't keep this stat, but if they did, I'd be willing to bet that he's one of the nation's best at blocking jumpers.
Moving on, Iowa looks to continue taking care of business as they head to Penn State on Saturday. Luckily, every game remaining on the schedule is winnable. It won't necessarily be easy, but hopefully the Hawks can finish the regular season strong.