Big Ten Tournament Quick Hits: Iowa 64, Illinois 61

Kevin Trahan

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It was a fitting end to the season for Illinois, as the disappointing Fighting Illini squandered yet another early lead, falling to Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes used a 20-6 run to pull ahead 57-50, and despite not making a field goal in the final 9 minutes and 19 seconds of the game, held on to secure a 64-61 win.

Iowa will face top-seeded Michigan State in the second round tomorrow, while Illinois will head home in hopes of at least landing an NIT berth. The Fighting Illini collapsed after being tied atop the Big Ten standings in mid-January and coach Bruce Weber sits firmly on the hot seat.

More notes from the first game of the day:

– Illinois did not attempt a free throw the entire game. That’s the first time that has happened in the history of the Big Ten Tournament.

– Iowa turned the ball over only 6 times, following an 18-turnover performance against Northwestern. Illinois finished with 12 turnovers.

– Matt Gatens had a game-high 20 points. He and Aaron White (13 points) were the only Hawkeyes to score in double figures. Illinois had three players in double figures, led by Meyers Leonard’s 18.

– The win snaps Iowa’s five-game Big Ten Tournament losing streak.