Illinois basketball falls at Iowa, 68-60


Illinois’ Rayvonte Rice attempts to get past Iowa’s defense during the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday.

By Sean Neumann

A familiar combination of foul trouble and poor shooting was the nail in the coffin for Illinois on Wednesday night. Iowa defeats Illinois 68-60 at Carver-Hawkeye Arene in Iowa City, Iowa.

Despite a 20-point performance from senior Rayvonte Rice and a 19-point game for senior Ahmad Starks, the Illini shot 33.3 percent as a team — going on minute-long scoreless stretches throughout the game

Guard Malcolm Hill ended the night with just two points, shooting 1-for-10 from the field. Hill came into Wednesday night’s game averaging 14.7 points per game.

The sophomore was also one of four Illini players who ended the game with four or more fouls. The team’s foul trouble had head coach John Groce livid on the sidelines in the first half.

The Illini committed six fouls and put Iowa in the bonus just under seven minutes into the game. By the end of the half, the Illini had 12 fouls to Iowa’s four.

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Illinois ended the game with 25 fouls, resulting in 20 Hawkeye points at the free throw line.

Storming back

Iowa stretched out a 20-12 lead early, shooting better than 60 percent early on in the first half. But the Illini stormed back once the Hawkeyes’ offense dropped off midway through the half.

Illinois went on a 15-4 run over one 10-minute stretch, during which Iowa shot 1-for-10 from the field. But early on in the second half, Iowa went on a 7-0 run in just 39 seconds.

The Illini grabbed one last lead, canceling out the 7-0 Iowa run with an identical spread of their own to make it 43-42.

Then the wheels fell off.

Out of gas

Illinois went on another scoring drought midway through the second half, making only one basket in more than six minutes. The Illini shot 2-for-11, allowing Iowa to jump out to a 53-46 lead.

The team made one last 6-0 run late in the game, closing the gap within 62-56.

The late Illini comeback was cut short when center Nnanna Egwu was called for a flagrant foul with a minute left, trying to stop an easy Iowa layup late. The sequence gave the Hawkeyes two free throws and the ball back, extending Iowa’s lead to 67-58.

Iowa’s offense was boosted by a 29-point, nine-rebound performance from forward Aaron White. Ten of White’s points came at the free throw line.

The loss brings Illinois to a 17-11 (7-8 Big Ten) record with three regular season games remaining.

The Illini will host Northwestern on Saturday night at State Farm Center.

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