LIVE! Iowa

LIVE! Iowa

CHICAGO — Illinois hung with Iowa for a half, but the Illini couldn't keep pace with the high-scoring Hawkeyes in the final 20 minutes in an 83-62 loss in the second round of the Big Ten tournament at the United Center.

Nicholas Baer paced Iowa with 17 points. He was joined in double figures by Joe Wieskamp (13 points), Tyler Cook (12) and Ryan Kriener (11).

Giorgi Bezhanishvili led Illinois with 12 points, while Trent Frazier and Tevian Jones had 11 points apiece and Ayo Dosunmu chipped in 10. The Illini (12-21) now head into the offseason with plenty of room for improvement.

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Iowa 37, Illinois 31 — Halftime

This has been a game of runs. Literally. It's been a series of runs between seven, nine and 11 points for both teams. And Illinois is trailing by six despite shooting 54.2 percent (compared to 46.4 percent for Iowa). 

Ayo Dosunmu has eight points to lead the Illini. Tevian Jones and Giorgi Bezhanishvili still have six points apiece. Jordan Bohannon also has eight points for Iowa. Fitting considering Dosunmu and Bohannon had words for one another after the buzzer sounded to end the first half. They weren't friendly words either.

To the Twitter machine!

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Iowa 30, Illinois 29 — 3:31 left in 1st half

Iowa pushed its lead to 10 with 8 minutes, 27 seconds to play in the first half. The Illini have answered with a 9-0 run (including consecutive buckets by Ayo Dosunmu) to close their deficit to a single point during the last 4:22. Iowa has missed its last five shots and hasn't scored — while turning the ball over three times — in the last 4:56.

Balanced scoring for Illinois so far. Dosunmu, Tevian Jones and Giorgi Bezhanishvili all have six points. 

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Iowa 26, Illinois 20 — 8:48 left in 1st half

The first two Illinois possessions didn't look all that promising. Shot clock violations will do that. But the Illini have been solid since. As in shooting 66.7 percent from the field (and from three-point) solid. Of course, Iowa's shooting the ball pretty well, too. The Hawkeyes have connected at 55.6 percent from the field and 71.4 percent (5 of 7) from three-point range.

Same issue for the Illini as they had in Iowa City — as in help defense not getting there in time and the Hawkeyes getting some nice, open looks. Nicholas Baer and Joe Wieskamp have six points apiece for Iowa. Tevian Jones (not a typo) leads the Illini with six points of his own.

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Iowa 10, Illinois 5 — 15:40 left in 1st half

Two things of note here. First, Joe Wieskamp has made 10 straight shots and three consecutive free throws against Illinois dating back to Iowa's Jan. 20 win between the two teams. He already has six points (a three-pointer and a three-point play). Meanwhile, Tevian Jones is playing early in the first half and knocked down a three-pointer of his own. Didn't see him check in, so I was legitimately surprised by taht shot.

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Illinois vs. Iowa — 8:57 p.m., BTN

Still about 15 minutes until tipoff here in Chicago for the final game of the day, so now seems like as good a time as any to see how "Illini" Twitter is doing ...

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Illinois vs. Iowa — 8:30 p.m., BTN

A few keys to the game for the Illini ...

— Best not to leave Joe Wieskamp or Jordan Bohannon or Isaiah Moss open at the three-point line. That trio missed just a single three-pointer (of the 14 total they attempted) in Iowa's 24-point win in January.

— The matchup to watch will be Iowa's Tyler Cook against whoever Illinois plays against him. To start, that will be Aaron Jordan. That's a huge advantage for the Hawkeyes and one the Illini will have to find some way to lessen.

— Get the ball to Giorgi Bezhanishvili. He made 12 of 15 shots last night for 26 points. To not feed him would be a mistake.

— Ayo Dosunmu's going to have to figure out a way to have his typically solid game in Chicago. He's got 13 points total in the Illini's two games at the United Center so far this season.

— What Trent Frazier did last night? Hitting threes and scoring 21 points? More of that.

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Illinois vs. Iowa — 8:30 p.m., BTN

Two most important tweets you'll read all night.

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Illinois did what it had to to Wednesday night. The Illini survived — literally in an overtime win against Northwestern — and now they've advanced to today's second round game against Iowa. 

It's a chance for redemption for Illinois after the Hawkeyes won a 24-point blowout on Jan. 20. Iowa hit 10 straight three-pointers in that game and finished at better than 70 percent from beyond the arc. It's something the Illini haven't forgotten.

The question is ... can Illinois survive and advance one more time? The basketball matchup might not favor the Illini given Iowa's big men (Tyler Cook and Luka Garza) and the Hawkeyes' stable of capable shooters. But the momentum matchup — if there is such a thing — belongs to Illinois. 

The Illini have it after beating Northwestern on Wednesday night. Nebraska proved earlier today what a Wednesday win can eman, as the Cornhuskers upset a top 25 Maryland team. Iowa, on the other hand, has zero momentum having lost five of its last six games. 

The opportunity is there for an Illinois upset. Will the Illini capitalize? We'll find out in about an hour. While you're waiting for the final game of the day from Chicago, catch up on what you might have missed in the (really) early morning hours today.

Starters, stats, storylines and the beat writer's pick

Notes: Big night from Frazier key in Illinois victory

Grading the Illini after their win

Quick hits after UI took down rival Northwestern 

Illini hoping for 'tidal wave'

CHICAGO — Illinois could have folded when Andres Feliz's game-winning layup caromed untouched by Northwestern off the backboard — and only the backboard — at the end of regulation Wednesday night at the United Center.

The Wildcats nailing a three-pointer to start overtime and grabbing the momentum would have been another reason to throw in the towel.

The Illini might have done just that early in the season. Or during their 1-7 start to Big Ten play. Or while losing five of six games to end the regular season.

Except they didn’t Wednesday night in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

They rallied, combining a series of defensive stops and big plays at the offensive end — from Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu and even a little redemption for Feliz — for a 74-69 overtime victory.

Illinois (12-20) is in win-or-go-home mode in the tournament. There’s nothing left for the Illini this season after Chicago — unless they win the whole thing. Beating Northwestern (13-19) was the first step they had to take.

“There were a lot of things that didn't go particularly well throughout the course of the ball game, and yet we kept just hanging in,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said “To miss the layup at the end and then have them open the overtime with the three probably is the thing that makes me the happiest. It would have been very, very easy to just roll over and lay down, and we just kept hanging in there.”

To continue reading, click here. Then keep checking out IlliniHQ.com for more Illinois hoops coverage all night (and into Friday morning).

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