Iowa falls to Illinois, loses out on double-bye

After falling to the Illini, the Hawkeyes will now begin the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.


Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Iowa and Illinois’ battle for the Big Ten Tournament’s final double-bye went down to the wire in Champaign on Sunday.

It ended with the Illini downing the Hawkeyes, 78-76, to avoid playing on Thursday in Indianapolis.

After an even first half that got chippy toward the end, Illinois proved to be the aggressors in the final 20 minutes. The Illini went on a 12-2 run early in the second half, taking the lead after Iowa held an advantage for the majority of the game.

Illinois guard Trent Frazier helped spark the Illini streak.

After Joe Toussaint buried a 3-pointer to open the second half, Frazier hit a layup and a triple of his own to push the Illini lead to five. It eventually got up to 16.

Connor McCaffery and Bakari Evelyn hit clutch 3s in the final minutes to help make it a two-point game in the final 60 seconds. Iowa had a chance to tie the game with 1.6 seconds left, but Luka Garza had his shot blocked at the buzzer.

The Illini spread the ball around throughout the game, pushing four players into double figures. Ayo Dosunmu led the way for Illinois, dropping 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Andres Feliz, Kofi Cockburn, and Kipper Nichols also scored at least 10 points apiece.

Iowa received strong performances from Garza and Joe Toussaint, but it wasn’t enough. Garza paced the Hawkeyes with 28 points and eight boards, while Toussaint put up 14 points with two 3-pointers.

The Hawkeyes earned the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play the winner of No. 12 Minnesota and No. 13 Northwestern on Thursday.