Thursday, January 11, 2018

Iowa 104, Illinois 97 (OT): Hawkeyes overcome 20-point deficit behind Bohannon’s 29 points

Photo Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.— Winning cures some things and for the Iowa Hawkeyes, adversity knocked on their front door at the State Farm Center.

The Hawkeyes (10-9, 1-5 Big Ten) fought back from a 20-point deficit with a 104-97 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-8, 0-5 Big Ten) in overtime behind a 29-point performance from Jordan Bohannon.

Bohannon’s three-point make with 1:45 left in overtime helped put the dagger in any Illinois hopes of victory at 99-90.

“I thought [Jordan] was great all-game long,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “That was a huge shot, but kept his composure. They came after him last year and it didn’t go well, but he was ready this time.”

Despite 11 turnovers in the first half, the Hawkeyes cleaned up most of their mistakes and committed six errors in the final 25 minutes. On top of the reduction in turnovers, the Hawkeyes started the second half on 10-0 run to start the second half to pull within three points at 54-51.

“The zone activity in the first half was not what it needed to be and [Illinois] did a good job moving the ball and knocking down threes,” McCaffery said. “In the second half, I thought our activity level was way better with where players like [Aaron] Jordan and [Trent] Frazier were.”

Iowa center Luka Garza proved to be the unsung hero with 19 points and 11 rebounds, highlighted by scoring nine of the last 11 points in regulation. Hawkeyes’ leading scorer Tyler Cook added 21 points and 13 rebounds, which gave the Illini defense headaches throughout the game.

“You look at the rebound numbers and both players made the difference there, but they both can score the ball,” McCaffery said. “When you have bigs who can score, they can’t focus on Tyler Cook exclusively.”

Trent Frazier served as a worthy foe to Bohannon with a career-high 27 points, on 7-of-11 from long range, highlighted by a running three-pointer from the wing as time expired to send the game to overtime.

“Honestly, it should’ve never gotten to that point. We were up by 20 points. I got a good luck and it ended up going in,” Frazier said.

Despite an early jumper from Cook, the Illini asserted their presence in the paint as they went on a 15-2 run, which got the crowd of 11,326 buzzing.

The momentum would continue for Illinois as timely long range makes by Da’Monte Williams and Kipper Nichols kept the lead in the double-digit department.

Despite Black being benched early for foul trouble with two at the 11:10 left in the first half, the Illini continued to prosper from long range as their lead grew to 34-15 and would stay in front for the remainder of the half as they took a 54-41 lead into the locker room.

The Hawkeyes’ achilles heel proved to be their lack of ball control in the first 20 minutes with 11 turnovers, which led to 16 Illini points on the other end.

The run early in the second half lifted the Hawkeyes as they used timely shots from Bohannon to even the score at 66, 7:54 into the second half.

The Hawkeyes’ deficit would return to the single digit range, but Bohannon’s play from the perimeter kept things from getting out of hand, coupled with the Illini’s foul woes as Mark Alstork, Kipper Nichols and Black each had four with 8:00 left.

Foul trouble proved to be the climax to the many Illinois woes on a spring, turned winter night outside as Williams, Alstork, Nichols and Black fouled out in the second half and overtime periods.

Game Notes:

-       All five Hawkeye starters finished in double figures scoring.
-       Iowa’s 20-point comeback is the second largest in program history on the road.

Looking Ahead:

The Illini return to action on Jan. 15 as they travel to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers for an 8 p.m. tip, while the Hawkeyes go to Pascataway, N.J. on Jan. 17 as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights come calling for a 6 p.m. start.

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