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

Narrow win over Iowa sets No. 12 Illinois men’s basketball back on track

James Hoeck
Senior forward Coleman Hawkins takes a jump shot against Iowa during the second half of Saturday afternoon’s game at the State Farm Center. The Illini defeated the Hawkeyes 95-85.

The situation was dire for No. 12 Illinois men’s basketball on Saturday afternoon. The team had just suffered its worst season loss at Penn State and desperately needed to get back on track. The Illini did just that, winning 95-85 over the Iowa Hawkeyes and improving to 20-7 on the season.

Head coach Brad Underwood stuck with the starting lineup he knows best. Graduate student forwards Quincy Guerrier and Marcus Domask were next to fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr., senior forward Coleman Hawkins and sophomore guard Ty Rodgers.

Guerrier won the tipoff, and Hawkins got to work with a deep three. Rodgers and Hawkins continued to add to the Illini’s count, combining for seven points in the first 100 seconds of play, but the Hawkeyes were right behind them. Despite nailing five of their first seven shots, the Illini lead never eclipsed three points. Hawkins was responsible for most of Illinois’ offense early on, notching 10 points in less than five minutes (15-12).  

The Illini went to the bench early, bringing in redshirt junior forward Dain Dainja and junior guard Luke Goode. Hawkins immediately looked to leverage Goode’s shooting and found him in the corner for Illinois’ first bench points (20-20). 

Iowa took a momentary lead thanks to a three-pointer, but Guerrier and freshman forward Amani Hansberry answered with seven swift points that forced a timeout from the visiting side (30-25). Guerrier continued to wreak havoc coming out of the break and threw down a huge dunk set up by Domask. 

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With 4:21 remaining in the first half, Iowa got Goode off his feet for a foul that was upgraded to a flagrant one. The Hawkeyes netted three points from the resulting free throws and possession to take a 39-34 lead.

Facing Iowa’s biggest advantage of the game, Illinois rallied dramatically. Six unanswered points, coupled with another massive dunk by Guerrier, got the State Farm Center on its feet for a defensive possession that ended with an Iowa turnover due to miscommunication. The Hawkeyes closed out the half with a buzzer-beater shortly after, but the Illini still took a 44-43 lead into the break.

Iowa started the second half with a trip to the free-throw line and a basket to go up by two, which spurred a mass substitution from Underwood. Dainja, Hansberry, Goode and graduate student guard Justin Harmon returned, and redshirt freshman guard Niccolo Moretti made his first appearance.

Redshirt freshman guard Niccolo Moretti dribbles toward the Iowa side of the court during the second half. (Angel Saldivar)

The offense began to flow for the new group, with Moretti driving inside to find Harmon for Illinois’ first points of the half. Dainja also gave Hansberry a flashy behind-the-back assist (50-48).

The starters came back in after four minutes of even scoring from the bench unit, and Hawkins immediately dropped in an and-one basket to move the Illini within one point. Iowa began to pull away, so Moretti, Hansberry and Harmon were quickly brought back in to support Hawkins and Shannon. 

Moretti gave life to the Illini while he was out there. His ability as a playmaker opened up a lot for Hawkins and Dainja, but what truly blew the roof off was his pair of three-pointers that put Illinois in front 67-66. 

After taking just seven free throws in the first half, the Illini hung their hat on the free-throw line down the stretch. Eight points at the free-throw line made up for a 4:07 field goal drought for Illinois in the final 10 minutes.

Domask broke the drought and a 75-75 stalemate on the scoreboard with a single shot from deep before Hawkins came up with a steal, and Harmon picked up two points in transition (80-75). The Illini pulled away even further thanks to five straight points from Hawkins and led 89-79 in the final two minutes.

Graduate student guard Justin Harmon celebrates a two-pointer during the second half against Iowa. (Angel Saldivar)

Unlike its game against Penn State, Illinois’ double-digit advantage proved insurmountable. Hawkins finished the game with 30 points, five assists and just two missed shots. Shannon (12) and Harmon (12) also reached double figures, and Dainja had a team-high eight rebounds off the bench.



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About the Contributors
Conor Blount
Conor Blount, Senior Sports Reporter
My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.
James Hoeck
James Hoeck, Photo Editor
Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.
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