LIVE! At No. 24 Iowa
No. 24 Iowa 52, Illinois 48 — 11:50 second half
For as much as they've struggled today, the Illini haven't gone away. Wouldn't expect them to, based on all that has happened this season. Still don't know if that means they can find a way to pull this one out, though.
As Josh Oglesby hits a three for Iowa, I was reminded today that Illinois took Devin Langford over both Oglesby and Chasson Randle (Stanford).
Another hot offensive start to this half for the Illini, with a pair of threes and a transition layup from Rice. Iowa matched them, though.
I just noticed there's an Elvis impersonator sitting in the front row at the north end. Didn't know people were still doing that. There was a Tupac impersonator at the Celtics game the other night. Didn't know that was ever a thing.
I've got to get back to work.
No. 24 Iowa 34, Illinois 29 — Halftime
Iowa fans are gonna try to call out John Groce for arguing with the officials when Fran McCaffery is their coach?
Groce not happy with a number of foul calls and that over and back against Kendrick Nunn.
Iowa's 12-0 run coincided with Nnanna Egwu going to the bench with his second foul. Illinois' 20-6 lead shrank to 20-18 in about three and a half minutes. It eventually grew to a 17-1 Iowa run before Rayvonte Rice's baseline drive and dunk. After the hot offensive start, Illinois went more than seven minutes without a field goal.
Egwu came back into the game with about four minutes left and immediately made his presence felt at both ends with a outback bucket and a steal. He's invaluable to this team.
There are some interesting-looking folks here. You get that everywhere, but Shannon Ryan and I have seen more than usual.
Illinois shot 42.9 percent (12 for 28) from the floor and 37.5 percent (3 for 8) from long range. Nnanna Egwu led the way with nine points. Rayvonte Rice had six.
Iowa shot 46.4 percent (13 for 28) from the floor and 33.3 percent (3 for 9) from three. Aaron White led the way with nine points and Adam Woodbury added seven.
Illinois out-rebounded Iowa 18-15.
The Illini turned it over eight times, Iowa four.
Illinois 20, No. 24 Iowa 14 — 10:51 first half
Iowa fans were incredulous after Zach Mccabe was called for a foul trying to block out Jon Ekey on an alley-oop attempt. It was the right call. They got even more mad on a touch foul against McCabe. Questionable call.
Then Nnanna Egwu picked up his second foul trying to get position in the post and all was right in the world again in Iowa City.
The Illini were on pace early to score 120 points. The question is will they reach 60?
Kendrick Nunn started the game guarding Devyn Marble. The Illinois freshman has regularly drawn the assignment against the other team's top perimeter player. And he opened the game drilling a three from his favorite spot, the corner.
Malcolm Hill, good at ball faking.
A couple of bad decisions early by Rayvonte Rice. One time he took it in the paint and tried to score over the threes when he should have backed it out. The next time he made an ill-advised pass when he should have tried to score.
This is the second time he's played in this building. He played he as a sophomore at Drake and scored 23 points.
By the way, it looks like Jaylon Tate will be a no-go again tonight with that ankle injury. He didn't look all that great in warmups and Illinois has played some stretches here tonight already without a point guard on the floor. If they need one, it'll be Mike LaTulip most likely.
Illinois (17-13, 6-11) at No. 24 Iowa (20-10, 9-8) — Tipoff (BTN)
Iowa's three seniors and fourth-year junior Darius Stokes were honored during a presume ceremony on the floor. Roy Marble, Iowa's all-time scoring leader, joined his son Roy Devyn Marble during the festivities. The younger Marble is the No. 6 scorer in Iowa program history.
Illinois will go with it regular lineup of Tracy Abrams, Kendrick Nunn, Rayvonte Rice, Malcolm Hill and Nnanna Egwu.
Iowa is going with Mike Gesell, Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Melsahn Basabe and Adam Woodbury.
A young woman named Kate Yaokum sang the National Anthem. She was great. John Groce shared his appreciation with her as she walked off the floor.
It's pretty packed here with the exception of one pocket of empty seats at the south end near the top.
Mike Kitts, Lamont Simpson and Chris Beaver are your officials today.
Illinois (17-13, 6-11) at No. 24 Iowa (20-10, 9-8) — 7:36 BTN
Kind of a late-arriving crowd here. The student section pears to be full and the rest of the folks are slowly making their way toward their seats. It was really dead in here until Gabe Olaseni awakened the students with a couple of nifty pregame dunks. Then all the other Hawkeyes who are capable of dunking got in on the action, too.
I overheard an Iowa fan telling his young son that Illinois is a really young team and they're going to be really good in the next couple of years.
Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald and Review is here seated to my right. Mark and I both felt like someone was punching us on the way here. There was no snow of ice falling from the the sky or on the ground and the sun was out during the trip across the Mississippi. Weather has been a major issue with regards to travel this season.
Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune is also here. So are Matt Loveless (WAND) and Bret Beherns (WCIA).
Just received a text "Iowa by 60," it said. Ouch.
What say you?
Keeping tabs on the Michigan-Indiana game, the Wolverines were 3 for 13 at one point from three-point range. They were 9 for 12 at one point in Champaign the other night. You knew that was going to happen.
Here are your Illinois Big ten tournament scenarios:
If Illinois wins:
— Illinois is the 9 if Minnesota wins and Illinois would play Indiana.
— Illinois is the 7 if Penn State and Michigan win. Illinois would play Penn State
— Illinois is the 8 if Penn State and Indiana win. Illinois would play Minnesota
If Illinois loses:
— Illinois is the 9 if Minnesota wins. Illinois would play Indiana
— Illinois is the 11 if Penn State wins. Illinois would play either Ohio State (if MSU wins or OSU and Nebraska win) or Nebraska (if OSU and Wisconsin win).
Got all that?
I'll be back.
Illinois (17-13, 6-11) at No. 24 Iowa (20-10, 9-8) — 7:36 BTN
Welcome to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the final Big Ten game of the season. Iowa is playing for NCAA seeding and to avoid back-to-back 9-9 Big Ten campaigns. Illinois is playing for Big Ten tournament seeding and another opportunity to solidify its chances at reaching the NIT.
Every door outside this arena has a big white sign on it that says "SOLD OUT." They're expecting a packed house here today to bid farewell to Roy Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe.
McCabe almost put himself in position to miss this game with his suplex the other night of Michigan State's Travis Trice. Lucky for him he wasn't ejected from that game and no further discipline came from the league office. McCabe showed up here today about two hours before the game wearing a pink shirt and tie.
Marble showed up wearing gray sweats and a Chicago Bulls stocking hat.
The doors here opened at about 5:50 and the students were allowed in. Many of them waited inside the doors until allowed into the arena bowl. They sprinted down to their seats, but only about 20 percent of the seats were occupied during the immediate rush.
Mike Gesell and Josh Oglesby were among the first few Iowa players on the floor getting up some early shots.
Peter Jok also got out here early. They had little kids rebounding for them.
Illinois point guard Jaylon Tate remains a game-time decision for this one. He missed the Michigan game with an ankle injury. He joined the team later during the warmup here ahead of tonight's game. He doesn't look especially great moving around the court.
I'm going to try to crank out some work right now for tomorrow's paper. Got an extra-early deadline tonight because of the time change. Be back soon.