Maybe the blowout win over Minnesota wasn’t a turning point.
Four days removed from the Illini’s first Big Ten win of the season, Illinois laid an egg. Trent Frazier’s big first half wasn’t enough for a cold-shooting Illini team as Iowa bullied Illinois en route to a 95-71 victory at Carve Arena in Iowa City on Sunday afternoon.
Illinois (5-13, 1-6 Big Ten) is still sitting on just one true road win — at Rutgers last February — in the Brad Underwood era, and it was clear Sunday would not be the second over the game’s opening minutes. The Illini took plenty of three-pointers early, but struggled through a six-minute scoring drought over the opening eight minutes of the first half.
Frazier, who had 12 of the Illini’s first 15 points, ended the drought and went on his own 6-0 run, but Illinois had no answers on defense for Luka Garza (eight first-half points) and Joe Wiescamp (14 points, 4-of-4 from three). Notably, Giorgi Bezhanishvili picked up two quick fouls trying to guard the 6-foot-10 Garza, forcing Underwood to play freshman center Samba Kane. With graduate forward Adonis De La Rosa not making the trip due to an illness, Kane stepped in and stepped up, shutting out Garza toward the end of the half.
No. 23 Iowa (16-3, 5-3 Big Ten) continued shooting the lights out of Carver in the start of the second half, even as the Illini started to get shots to fall. The Hawkeyes made six of their first seven three-pointers in the second half, which overshadows the aggressive starts to the second half around the rim by Ayo Dosunmu and Bezhanishvili.
As has been the case throughout the Underwood era, Illinois continued to be foul-heavy on Sunday. Kipper Nichols, Aaron Jordan and Tevian Jones all had at least three fouls by midway through the second half, with each playing fewer than 12 minutes at that point. Jones entered the game before the first half’s first media timeout and sunk a three-pointer, but was unable to stay on the court for meaningful minutes again due to the whistles.
Jordan and Bezhanishvili both fouled out, and Nichols and the Georgian each picked up a flagrant, too.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can’t Close: Illinois cut into Iowa’s lead nearing the end of the first half, taking a 31-22 deficit into the final media timeout of the half.
Out of the break, the Hawkeyes closed on an 8-2 run, highlighted by Isaiah Moss’ buzzer-beating three to send Iowa into the locker room with a 39-24 lead.
3-on-2 Switcharoo: Dosunmu was leading the Illini in transition on a 3-on-2, with Jordan to his right and a streaking Jones to his left, and made the pass to Jordan who couldn’t finish the drive. Nicholas Baer hit an open three on the other end at the point. That sequence pretty much describes the second half.
TWEETS OF THE GAME
This is the most Illini basketball thing ever. pic.twitter.com/9FlFDHHSF8— Tyler Smith (@TheTSmoove) January 20, 2019
This may be the worst half Illinois has played this season. And that’s saying something.— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) January 20, 2019
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
This was an interesting offensive play for Dosunmu’s first bucket of the game.
And this was an interesting defensive play where Tyler Cook had a monster left-handed dunk under the rim.
Maybe the Illini were playing the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Iowa made seven three-pointers over a five-minute stretch in the second half, and finished 15-of-20 on the day from distance.
Illinois opens up a big two-game week on Wednesday night in Champaign against Wisconsin. The Badgers handed No. 2 Michigan its first loss of the season on Saturday.
The Illini will then head to New York City on Thursday for a Saturday afternoon matchup versus Maryland at Madison Square Garden, part of the Big Ten’s Hoops & Hockey doubleheader.
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