March 6, 2022
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Kofi Cockburn scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and the Illinois defense clamped down late as the 20th ranked Illini defeated #24 Iowa 74-72 to clinch a share of their first Big Ten regular season championship since 2005.
Illinois (21-8, 15-5) finish league play tied with 10th ranked Wisconsin atop the conference standings, but will get the #1 seed in this week's Big Ten tournament due to their victory over the Badgers last month in the only meeting between the two teams.
Wisconsin had the edge entering the final weekend of the regular season, but were shocked by last-place Nebraska earlier in the day 74-73 and that opened the door for the Illini.
Alfonso Plummer scored 15 points and Andre Curbelo added 14 off the bench before fouling out late in the game.
Iowa (22-9, 12-8) came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the country, but sees its 5-game win streak end and their bid to grab the #4 seed and double-bye in this week's tourney in Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes settle for the 5-seed and will play the winner of the Northwestern-Nebraska game Thursday afternoon.
Illinois was without starting forward Jacob Grandison, who was in street clothes and with his left arm in a sling as he took part in Senior Night festivities before the game. Grandison suffered a shoulder injury in the 2nd half of Thursday's win over Penn State. Coleman Hawkins took his place in the lineup for his first start since the Arizona game and responded with nine points and eleven rebounds.
The Hawkeyes looked determined to play spoiler in the first half, going on a 13-0 run to take a 32-19 lead. Iowa hit 60% of its shots from the field and threatened to run away from their hosts. But the Illini closed the half on a 9-0 run to pull within 43-37 at halftime.
That late run seemed to set the tone for the second half. Iowa continued its cold shooting, missing 12 of 13 shots during the run that straddled halftime as the Illini pulled off a 19-3 rally to take their first lead since early in the game. Iowa rallied, but it was short-lived as the Hawkeyes managed just two field goals in the final 9:00 of the game. Iowa also missed ten free throws in the second half to create the opportunity for Illinois to get the win.
Keegan Murray scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed eleven rebounds for Iowa while Tony Perkins scored 17.
Both teams now head to Indianapolis, where the Illini will seek their first ever repeat Big Ten tournament championship. They'll face either Michigan or Indiana Friday morning. Iowa goes in as the 5-seed and will play either Northwestern or Nebraska in their tournament opener on Thursday.
Stay with IlliniGuys for complete postgame coverage and analysis.
I on the Illini - Derrick Burson - Illini Men's Basketball SID - IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular Interview (S2,Ep78)Read
Watch: Illini coach Bret Bielema gives an update prior to Saturday's trip to WisconsinRead
I on the Illini - Wisconsin Football Clash in Madison Preview (S2,Ep77)Read
Watch: Illini football coach Bret Bielema talks about WisconsinRead
Watch: Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood talks about the start of preseason practiceRead
I on the Illini - John Mackovic - IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular Interview (S2,Ep76)Read
IlliniMinute - 09.26.22Read
IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular - Sept 23 Weekend (S2,Ep6)Read
Watch: Illini coach Bret Bielema's post-game news conference after Chattanooga winRead
I on the Illini - Illini Dismantle a Talented Chattanooga Team (S2,Ep75)Read
I on the Illini - Big Sports Radio Interview - Robin Washut Nebraska Senior Team Writer for Husker Online - (S2,Ep74)Read
Watch: Illini Head Coach Bret Bielema gives final remarks before Chattanooga gameRead
I on the Illini - Illini vs Chattanooga Preview (S2,Ep73)Read
Watch: Illini Offensive Coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. talks about prepping for Chattanooga gameRead
I on the Illini - IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular Interview - Shauna Green Illinois Women's Basketball Coach (S2,Ep72)Read