Iowa dropped its third straight game in Big Ten play on Wednesday night, falling 76-64 to Illinois at State Farm Center in Champaign.
The Hawkeyes (11-10, 3-5 Big Ten) surrendered the game’s first 10 points and never recovered. They never led in the game.
Wednesday night was reminiscent of previous Iowa games at Illinois — before winning the last two in Champaign, Iowa had dropped 22 of 23 road games in the border series.
Illinois’ Michael Finke led all scorers with 17 points off the bench, while Malcolm Hill had 11 points and 6 rebounds for the Fighting Illini (13-8, 3-5). Iowa’s Peter Jok, who leads the Big Ten in scoring, finished with 10 points.
The first half was all Illini in Champaign.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 26, 2017
Why it happened
For the third straight game, Iowa fell behind by 8 points before the first media timeout. The Hawkeyes missed their first 6 shots with 3 turnovers and trailed Illinois 10-0. That appeared to end the game’s competitive phase, especially on the road.
But Iowa fought back in the second half and cut the deficit to 9 points with 3:20 left and forced a 5-second call. But guard Jordan Bohannon’s 3-point attempt bounced off the front of the rim, which Illinois rebounded. The Hawkeyes couldn’t get closer than 9 points after that point.
What it means
Iowa has now lost three straight games and is in danger of its first losing record since Fran McCaffery’s first season in 2010-11. The Hawkeyes have four winnable games coming up: at home against Ohio State, at Rutgers, home against Nebraska, and at Minnesota. Iowa will need a sweep just to remain in postseason contention. The Hawkeyes’ season-ending schedule is much more difficult.
Iowa reserves Nicholas Baer and Ahmad Wagner each scored 12 points. Baer added a team-best 7 rebounds, while Wagner had 5.
Jok has tried to fight through a back injury the last three games and the results aren’t positive for the senior. He finished with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting and had 4 turnovers. Jok tried to stretch his back during free throws and timeouts and still played 32 minutes. Bohannon struggled from 3-point range, hitting just 1 of 7 attempts.
Te'Jon Lucas⚡️Mav Morgan pic.twitter.com/fdo1aPKxWP
— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) January 26, 2017
Iowa plays host to Ohio State at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN2). Illinois travels to Penn State at 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. on Saturday (BTN).
Illinois beats Iowa 76-64 pic.twitter.com/bDzwJMDcX9
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) January 26, 2017