Iowa Men fall to Fighting Illini

Iowa Men fall to Fighting Illini
December 6th, 2021 | hawkeyesports.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa men’s basketball team fell to Illinois on Monday night, 87-83, in its Big Ten home opener on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes battled back from a first-half deficit with a 21-2 run, leading by as many as nine points in the first half. Sophomore Tony Perkins posted 12 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting, leading the way as the Hawkeye bench posted 24 of Iowa’s 36 first half points.

Still, a late 3-pointer by Illinois’ Jacob Grandison gave the Fighting Illini a 39-36 lead heading into the break.

The Illinois lead swelled to as many as 15 points in the second half, but the Hawkeyes battled back, nearly erasing the deficit for the second straight game.

Sophomore Keegan Murray led the charge, scoring 17 of his team-best 19 points in the second half, including a stretch of 12 straight points. Murray finished with three steals, all coming in the second half, and had two blocks and two rebounds.

Iowa closed to within three points four times in the final 2 1/2 minutes, but the Illini held off the rally, handing the Hawkeyes just their third home loss in 23 games, dating back to the start of last season.

The Hawkeyes were outrebounded, 52-23, but the Iowa defense forced 18 turnovers, including three 10-second violations on the night.

Perkins finished with 16 point, making 2-of-3 3-point attempts and he was +11 in the game.  Redshirt sophomore Patrick McCaffery registered 12 points, while sophomore Ahron Ulis netted 11. Ulis also had a game-high seven rebounds and matched a game-best three steals, while shooting a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.

QUOTING COACH MCCAFFERY
“Keegan (Murray) wasn’t himself early, and maybe that’s understandable coming off of an injury. But he had it going in the second half.  We need to be better with our execution and limiting second-chance opportunities.”

OF NOTE

  • Monday was just Iowa’s third home loss in 23 games, dating back to the start of last season.
  • The country’s leading scorer, Keegan Murray, returned to the lineup tonight after missing Iowa’s last game at Purdue (ankle). Murray netted 17 of his team-best 19 points over the final 19 minutes, including a stretch of 12 straight points.
  • Iowa, who ranks fourth in the country in fewest turnovers per game, committed just four turnovers tonight, equaling a season low (Virginia).
  • The Hawkeyes scored 26 points following 18 Illinois turnovers.
  • Tony Perkins scored 13 of his personal-best 16 points in the first half. The sophomore guard has reached double figures in scoring five of the last seven contests.
  • The Hawkeyes had a game-best 14-0 scoring run in the first half. Iowa has had scoring runs of 10-0 or more a combined 12 times in nine games.

UP NEXT
Iowa (7-2, 0-2) returns to action Thursday in an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series contest against No. 17 Iowa State (8-0). Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT) at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

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