Hawkeyes down Illini in Big Ten Tournament opener

Iowa ended its four-game losing streak with an 83-62 slaughtering of Illinois on Thursday.

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Hawkeyes down Illini in Big Ten Tournament opener

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp shoots a 3-point shot during the Iowa/Illinois men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp shoots a 3-point shot during the Iowa/Illinois men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Lily Smith

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp shoots a 3-point shot during the Iowa/Illinois men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Lily Smith

Lily Smith

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp shoots a 3-point shot during the Iowa/Illinois men's basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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CHICAGO – Iowa snapped a four-game losing streak on Thursday, topping Illinois, 83-62, in its first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Hawkeyes extended their stay in Chicago by knocking down the 3-ball at an alarming rate.

In his last Big Ten Tournament, Nicholas Baer led the way for Iowa, dropping 17 points with a 5-of-6 mark from 3-point range.

Baer was joined by the rest of the Hawkeyes who seemed as if they couldn’t miss from beyond the arc; Iowa started 5-of-7 from 3-point range, while Illinois got off to a 3-of-4 start from deep.

The difference is that Iowa kept it going. The Hawkeyes never slowed down, finishing the game with a 52 percent clip from behind the arc.

Joe Wieskamp seemed to enjoy his first taste of the Big Ten Tournament early. The freshman scored 6 of Iowa’s first 10 points with a 3-pointer and an and-1 and finished with 13. Jordan Bohannon got in on the action as well, scoring 8 with two 3s.

Iowa’s defense also proved to be a strength, forcing turnovers on three of Illinois’ first four possessions, including two shot clock violations.

While the game was going well for Iowa, things could have taken a turn when Iowa held a 26-20 lead with 8:48 remaining in the first half.

Iowa’s Connor McCaffery and Illinois’ Andres Feliz were both tagged with technical fouls, but the Illini missed both free throws and Jordan Bohannon drained his attempts.

With a 28-20 lead, Iowa started to let Illinois back in the game, as the Hawkeyes embarked on a scoring drought for 5:17. But Iowa followed that up with a 7-0 run to close out the half, going into the break with a 37-31 advantage.

Iowa grabbed momentum within the first two minutes of the second half when Tyler Cook threw down a thunderous alley-oop on an inbounds pass from Bohannon with one hand as “Let’s go Hawks” chants filled the United Center from the mostly pro-Iowa crowd.

Shortly after, Iowa embarked on yet another run – this time 13-3 – to take a 63-45 lead over the Illini, effectively ending the game.

The Hawkeye offense was much improved from recent games. When Iowa found open shots, it drained them, which is something it couldn’t say earlier in the month. It finished with a 52 percent clip from the field.

With the win, Iowa will face No. 3 seed Michigan on Friday. The last time the teams squared off, Hawkeyes downed the Wolverines, 74-59, in Carver-Hawkeye on Feb. 1.