#25 Illinois (16-6, 7-4) at Iowa (14-8, 6-5)
Feb. 4, 2023 // 1:30 p.m. CT // Iowa City, Iowa // Carver-Hawkeye Arena
TV: FOX – Jason Benetti (Play-by-Play), Stephen Bardo (Analyst)
Radio: Busey Bank Illini Sports Network – Brian Barnhart (Play-By-Play), Deon Thomas (Analyst) // SiriusXM 381, SXM App 971
*Winners of three straight games and seven of its last eight, Illinois next plays Saturday afternoon at Iowa, who has won six of its last eight (1:30 p.m. CT, FOX).
*Illinois Sophomore sharpshooter Luke Goode will dress for this one and could see his first action after returning to practice on Wednesday.
*Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring defense during conference play (64.5 ppg), while Iowa leads the B1G in scoring during league games (78.4 ppg).
*Illinois has won its last three road games, winning by an average margin of 18.0 points (54). Illinois leads all Big Ten teams with 23 road wins in league play over the last four years.
*Illinois went 7-2 in the month of January. Over the last four seasons, the Illini are 23-7 in January games.
*Illinois ranks 15th in kenpom adjusted defensive efficiency. The Illini excel nationally in a number of defensive categories, including a 14.8 block rate (10th), 44.8% effective field goal defense (13th), 43.2% two-point defense (9th), and 30.8 three-point attempt rate (20th). Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the country in blocked shots, averaging 5.9 bpg. The current Illini single-season blocks record is 5.4 bpg, set in 1979. Illinois is averaging 72.9 points (510) while allowing just 58.9 points (412) in its Big Ten wins, holding all seven opponents below the 70-point mark. Illinois has not topped 66 points in any of its Big Ten losses, averaging just 62.5 points while allowing opponents to score 74.5 points in those four games. All seven of Illinois’ Big Ten wins have been by at least nine points.
*Illinois has outrebounded 18 of 22 opponents. The Illini rank second in the Big Ten and No. 25 in the NCAA with a 5.9 average rebound margin.
*Eleven of Iowa’s 14 victories this season have come by double digits, including Tuesday's 16-point victory over Northwestern in Iowa City. Fran McCaffery (121) is four wins from tying Tom Davis (125) for the most regular season Big Ten victories in program history.
*Iowa is tops in the Big Ten and 19th nationally in scoring offense (81.5). The Hawkeyes have led the league in scoring five of the last nine seasons, including the last four.
*Through 22 games, the Hawkeyes are shooting 630-of-1,375 (.458) from the field, while Iowa opponents are 630-of-1,382 (.456).
*Forward Kris Murray's 21.5 scoring average in conference play (10 games) is second in the league. Murray was tabbed midseason third team All-America by Sporting News and is on the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 List. In home games that Murray has played this season, Iowa is 9-0, averaging 23.7 points in those nine home contests.
*Filip Rebraca has reached double digits in scoring 14 of 16 games, including ne> ng 15+ points in eight of Iowa's last 12. He is one of seven players na! onally to average 14+ points, 8+ rebounds, 1+ blocks, while shoo! ng 57 percent or be< er from the field. Illinois holds a 90-76 advantage in the series. The Fighting Illini have won fi ve consecutive in the series since snapping Iowa’s five-game win streak from 2018-20. Illinois swept last season's two meetings: 87-83 in Iowa City and 74-72 in Champaign. Iowa holds a 56-23 advantage in games played in Iowa City, including a 21-13 margin in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes have won two of the last three meetings in Iowa City. Keys to the Game
1. 3 Balls - Iowa is 9-1 when they make 9 or more 3 pointers. This is a team that wants to outscore you and they do it by getting to the rim and shooting 3's. Illinois has to limit their 3 point shooting opportunities. Iowa is 0-6 when they score under 1.02 PPP.
2. Find Other Ways - You have to score to beat Iowa. Ilinois wants to run but they don't want to get into a 3 point shootout with Iowa. They need to find other ways to score. Attacking the offensive glass against a team that likes to run can be a risk/reward, but Illinois needs to get 2nd chance points. Iowa doesn't turn it over much, but Illinois needs to take advantage of opportunities when they get TOs.
3. Take Care of the Ball - Iowa isn't very good defensively, allowing 38.4% shooting from 3 and 52.3% shooting from 2, but what they can do is force turnovers. Expect occasional 3/4 court pressure and switching from man to zone against an Illinois that has struggled to shoot it well from deep. The Ilini can't allow a bunch of 'pick 6's' if they want to win this one.
This is a difficult road game for Illinois, but they have seen tough road environments before. The Illini offense finally clicks in this one, 81-76 over the Hawkeyes.
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