IOWA CITY, Iowa — Illinois went on an 8-0 run late in the second half to seize control of a back-and-forth game and pull out a 70-66 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Iowa (14-13, 6-8 Big Ten) dropped a home league contest for just the second time this season, though this was the Hawkeyes’ third straight loss.
The Fighting Illini (15-12, 5-9) have won two of their last three, both on the road. They also swept the season series against Iowa, also beating the Hawkeyes 76-64 in January.
Why Iowa lost
Illinois closed out the game and Iowa didn’t. The Hawkeyes held a 56-52 lead with little more than 5 minutes to play before the Fighting Illini scored 8 straight to take the lead at 60-56 with 3:31 left. The Fighting Illini would hold Iowa to just 3 field goals in the final 7:37, meanwhile shooting 55.2 percent in the second half, to turn a 4-point halftime deficit into a 4-point victory.
What it means for Iowa
The chances of an at-large NCAA Tournament berth are gone. The Hawkeyes likely needed to win out in the regular season, including Saturday, and make a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament to even get near the tournament bubble. The NIT is still an option for the Hawkeyes, but they need to finish strong to earn an invitation. An NIT berth, though, could be important for a young team to get a taste of what postseason basketball is like.
Forward Tyler Cook was the team’s best offensive option, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Guard Peter Jok scored 16 points and moved up Iowa’s all-time scoring list in the process.
Jok hits 2 free throws to move up to 16th on career scoring list, passing Ed Horton
— Don Doxsie (@Dox5) February 18, 2017
Despite their scoring, Cook and Jok, along with guard Jordan Bohannon, were key reasons why Iowa struggled to hold onto the ball in the first half. They combined for 8 of Iowa’s 10 turnovers in the first half. The Hawkeyes made 11 first-half field goals and had a chance to build an even bigger lead in the opening 20 minutes, holding Illinois to 39.3-percent shooting. But they couldn’t take advantage of the situation because of the turnovers.
Who was there
Iowa recognized the 1980 Final Four team at the game and Ronnie Lester, Bobby Hansen, Steve Waite and Vince Brookins were in attendance. Also, former players Tree Henry, Waymond King, Craig Anderson, Greg Stokes, Todd Berkenpas and Jess Settles were introduced at halftime.
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) February 18, 2017
Who is next
Iowa hosts Indiana (15-12, 5-9) on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
— Hawkeyes Mic (@HawkeyesMic) February 18, 2017