I’m sure a lot of you, like myself, thought that after Iowa lost four of five games that that was about as bad as it was going to get.
Well, we were wrong.
The Hawkeyes have now lost five of their last six games with their Senior Night loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini.
It was brutal from the get go for the Hawkeyes as they found themselves down 20-6 early on. However, a 15-1 run would bring Iowa even with the Illini at 21 with 7:34 left in the half. Six straight points from sophomore center, Adam Woodbury would give Iowa a five point lead with just under four minutes to play in the half. When the half ended the Hawkeyes held a 34-29 lead.
Illinois and Iowa both came out of the locker room hot. Illinois hit a couple of three’s and Iowa got buckets from their sophomore tandem of Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury.
Iowa would consistently hold a single digit lead and around the 11 minute mark is when the game changed. Iowa backup center, Gabe Olaseni, hit a jumper from the elbow to give Iowa a 6 point lead. And I thought this was the moment, this was it, they were going to bury Illinois.
The complete opposite happened.
Iowa went scoreless for the next 5 minute while Illinois snapped off an 11-0 run to take a five point lead. The teams would play back and forth the next six minutes before Jon Ekey, who hit the game winning three pointer for the Illini, would hit a big three with 3:01 left in the game to give Illinois a 4 point lead. Iowa would then turn the ball over a couple times, then Roy Devyn Marble would cut the lead to two with a layup.
After two Illinois timeouts, Gesell got a steal that eventually led to a bucket and the tie at 63. Gesell would then commit a foul, but it would not put Illinois in the bonus, however it would allow them to get the last shot.
Tracy Abrams went to dribble drive, but was cut off by Gesell, he would then kick to Ekey who jacked up a deep three with Aaron White in his face, and with how things have been going for Iowa, you just knew it was going in for Ekey. Well, it did and that pretty much sealed it for Illinois.
Zach McCabe‘s inbound pass would get stolen and that definitely sealed it for Jon Groce’s ball team.
Aaron White led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 12, while Gesell and Woodbury each chipped in 11.
Fran McCaffery had this to say at his post game press conference. He talked about where the game was lost and tries to justify the lack of defense over the last couple of weeks.
“I think it [the game] was lost there (referring to 20-6 start) you can’t get down 20-6 at home. … It changes everything. We were never able to get any separation because we were constantly working, working, working. … It’s [the poor defense] fatigue a little bit, I think we’re a little bit fragile, I think that’s safe to say.” – Fran McCaffery
Iowa now turns the page over to the Big Ten Tournament that will begin on Thursday. They are locked in to the 6 seed and will take on the 11th seeded Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday night in Indianapolis, Indiana.