The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

‘We have a special team this year’: No. 12 Illinois looks to rebound at home against Iowa

Junior+guard+Luke+Goode+scans+the+ball+from+the+flanks+during+an+offensive+surge+against+Iowa+on+Saturday.
Angel Saldivar
Junior guard Luke Goode scans the ball from the flanks during an offensive surge against Iowa on Saturday.

The last time No. 12 Illinois took the court left a sour taste in the mouths of the Illini fanbase.

Despite Illinois leading by seven points with 40 seconds on the clock in University Park, Penn State showed its grit and managed to flip the script by claiming a one-point victory over the Illini in the final seconds. The illustrious 20-win season claim was postponed for head coach Brad Underwood’s squad.

“We did just about everything wrong that we could do wrong in the last three minutes,” Underwood said. “When you’re not mentally sharp, which we weren’t, those things catch up to you.”

However, Illinois has the chance to bounce back from the late collapse as it returns to Champaign to host Iowa on Saturday. It’s a prime opportunity for the Illini to right the ship as March looms just around the corner.

“We have a special team this year, and we can do a lot of good things this year,” said junior guard Luke Goode. “So hanging our heads over a loss like that is not great for the development of our team and our program.”

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Beating Iowa has been easier said than done over the past week, with the Hawkeyes pulling off statement victories over No. 20 Wisconsin and Michigan State. Currently 16-11 on the season and 8-8 in Big Ten play, Iowa will come to the State Farm Center hoping to extend its current streak to three games unbeaten.

Historically, the Illini lead 89-77 in the all-time record against the Hawkeyes. Recent years have seen Illinois manage to maintain a fairly firm hold on the rivalry, though Iowa was able to prevent what would have been a six-game winning streak for Illinois back in February 2023. The Hawkeyes came out victorious in the two teams’ latest clash, a tight 81-79 victory in Iowa City.

Saturday’s contest will be the third to last time that the Illini compete at the State Farm Center during the remainder of the regular season. A memorable result against its Big Ten rivals would be a strong way to not only get back in the winning column but also continue to make a statement as the postseason draws near.

Illinois (19-7 overall, 10-5 B1G) will search for its 20th win of the 2023-24 season on Saturday against an Iowa team (16-11 overall, 8-8 B1G) looking to extend its winning streak to three straight triumphs. The game will tip off at 1:15 p.m. CT in Champaign.

“We’ve just got to know that these guys are going to come in here looking for a win,” Goode said. “They just came off a huge win at Michigan State, so they’ve got all the confidence in the world. They see us coming off of a loss, a little bit of vulnerability, but we’ve just gotta do what we do — come out and bounce back.”

 

@james_kim15

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About the Contributors
James Kim, Sports Editor
My name is James Kim and I’m a senior studying English with a minor in business. This is my third year with The Daily Illini and it’s been an amazing ride so far. When I joined in fall 2021, I began as a staff writer for the sports section where I covered women’s tennis. In spring 2022, I became an assistant sports editor and started covering soccer and Illinois men’s basketball. From spring 2023 onwards I’ve been working as the sports editor! In addition to being an Illini and Real Madrid fanatic, I also love watching movies and TV shows. If you have any questions about writing for The DI, you can reach me at my email below. I-L-L!
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
Hey there, you might recognize me as the photographer who's often at community events in Champaign-Urbana with a camera in hand. I'm currently finishing my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois. Since my first year in 2020, I have been capturing moments for the Illini Media Company, and I've recently become the Assistant Photo Editor. Filmmaking is another passion of mine – shoutout to my film club Illini Film and Video! Keep an eye out, as you could see me filming the next big hit on campus. When I am not using the camera, I am usually playing the drums. Should you have any inquiries, please don't hesitate to send me an email!
ILLordle: Play now