#12 Iowa 96, #13 Illinois 87
The opening tip bounced before it was tipped to any of the other players and that set the tone for the rest of the game. Iowa turned the ball over five times in the first five minutes and Illinois started the game 2-8 shooting. Through 17 minutes, the teams had combined for more turnovers (17; ten for Iowa and seven for Illinois) than shots made from the field (16; nine for Iowa and seven for Illinois). Once the game got under three minutes in the first half, though, the teams went a combined 6-8 from the field and poured in fifteen points, nine of which came via three pointer. Despite 11 turnovers in the first half, Iowa went into halftime with a 35-31 lead thanks to the sophomore tandem of Jordan Bohannon (10 points on 3-3 shooting and 3 assists) and Tyler Cook (6 points, on 3-5 shooting). Kipper Nichols of Illinois was the game’s leading scorer at the half with 11 points on 3-6 shooting.
Iowa picked up in the second half right where they left off at the end of the first half by scoring 16 points in the first four minutes of the half. The Hawkeyes led by as much as 13 with about 14 minutes to play in the second half, but the Fighting Illini clawed their way back to within two with around 10 minutes left to play. Iowa sat comfortably in the driver’s seat from that point on and managed to hold off Illinois’ last-minute push to send the game to OT.
Though Illinois lost, the team is still very young and will use their playing time at the Garden as a learning experience for years to come.
“We have to bring everyone together and play as one unit,” said Trent Frazier, the freshman who posted 13 points on 5-12 shooting.
Coach Brad Underwood noted after the loss that the team has a solid foundation but still has some growing to do: “I liked our looks. We made 14 threes tonight...but you can’t get out-rebounded by twenty and expect to win.”
While Iowa was able to come out on top today, they face a much tougher test tomorrow in Michigan. The team will look to star point guard Jordan Bohannon to have another impact performance if the team has any hope of beating the Wolverines, who they lost to twice this season, most recently on February 14th (74-59).
When asked what the team needs to do fix their mistakes from Iowa’s previous two meetings with Michigan, he said “We have to play better, as simplistic as it sounds.” The Hawkeyes game against #5 Michigan tomorrow will begin 30 minutes after the #9 Wisconsin vs. #8 Maryland game goes final.
Jordan Bohannon, G, Iowa (25 points, 6 assists, 6-10 FG, 5-7 3FG)
Luka Garza, C, Iowa (20 points, 8 rebounds, 8-10 FG)
Kipper Nichols, F, Illinois (31 points, 10-18 FG, 5-9 3FG; Set Illinois record for most points in a Big Ten tournament game)
Photo Credit: Kelsey Kremer, The Register