In one of the most entertaining games of the Big Ten season, the teams traded leads for most of the game. Illinois finally took command in the final two minutes but was up by only three points when Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon missed a hurried 3 pointer with 11 seconds left.
The Illini’s Kofi Cockburn was immediately fouled and missed his free throw but grabbed the rebound. Cockburn was fouled again with 2 seconds left and sank both shots to seal the win.
”Great win against a great team,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. ”That was a heck of a college basketball game.”
Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp each had 19 points for Iowa (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten). Garza was called for his third foul early in the second half and spent more than seven minutes on the bench. He was flagged for his fourth with 4 minutes left and the score tied at 69.
”I’ve never been one to make excuses,” Garza said. ”I’ve got to be better for my team and not put myself in position to be in foul trouble.”
Jacob Grandison had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Illinois (11-5, 7-3). Cockburn added nine points and 11 rebounds.
Illinois led 43-41 at the half, thanks to a long 3-pointer by Frazier with 7 seconds left. Neither team led by more than six points in the back-and-forth half.
Dosunmu had 19 points at the midpoint and Garza had 13 for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes were without shooting guard CJ Fredrick, who averages 9.1 points and is a leader on the court. Fredrick has been battling a lower leg injury and is considered day-to-day.
”Obviously, we’d love to have him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Neither team looked rusty, despite long layoffs. Iowa hadn’t played since losing to unranked Indiana on Jan. 21. Illinois’ last game was Jan. 19, a home victory over Penn State. Both teams had a game postponed in the interim due to COVID-19 protocols.
Neither team had played in a week or more, yet both looked sharp from the opening tip.
”That first half was fast and up-tempo,” Underwood said. ”Two very well-rested teams. The second half was just grind-it-out, smash-mouth basketball.”
McCaffery wasn’t happy after the game and it showed in his Zoom press conference.
When asked why his team hadn’t made many free throws down the stretch, he snapped, ”I guess I’ve got to do a much better job of getting Luka Garza to the free throw line, apparently. I’m just a horrendous coach.”
Still, McCaffery thought the game was in reach until the bitter end.
”We were in a position to win the game,” he said. ”We had a chance.”
HE SAID IT
Ayo Dosunmu: ”It was great to get this win. I’m really proud of the team and how we responded after 10 days off.”
Iowa will likely drop out of the top 10 after the loss to Indiana and now Illinois. The Illini should edge closer to the top 10 with the win.
Iowa: Hosts Michigan State on Tuesday.
Illinois: Travels to Indiana on Tuesday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25