CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Rich McBride scored 15 points and Illinois’ bench helped the eighth-ranked Illini send star seniors Dee Brown and James Augustine out of Assembly Hall in style with a 71-59 win over No. 20 Iowa Saturday.
The win kept the Illini (23-5, 9-5) in the hunt for its third straight Big Ten title and dropped Iowa (20-8, 9-5) out of first place for the first time since Jan. 30.
Iowa lost its second in a row for the first time in conference play and a chance to keep a share of the lead with Ohio State, which defeated Michigan 64-54 earlier Saturday. Illinois and Iowa are tied for second.
Augustine and Brown were sluggish in their final home game.
Augustine, spent nearly 16 minutes of the first half on the bench with two fouls and picked up his third just 33 seconds into the second half. But he stayed in the game and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
While he was on the bench, the Illini got some stellar inside play from Marcus Arnold and Warren Carter. Arnold scored nine points, Carter had five and freshman Jamar Smith hit a 3-pointer as the Illinois bench outscored Iowa’s reserves 17-6.
Brown had a tough day shooting going only 2-of-12 from the field for six points, but he dished out nine assists. Brian Randle scored 13 points for Illinois.
Greg Brunner scored 27 points for the Hawkeyes, but the Illini defense held Iowa’s other highest scorers down. Jeff Horner scored 11 and Adam Haluska scored only three, missing five of his six shots.
Brown and Augustine won for the 111th time in their careers, breaking the school record they shared with Nick Smith, who set it last season.
The Illini put together a 14-9 run to start the second half and took a 48-38 lead on Randle’s basket with 13:35 to go. They missed their next three shots and Iowa closed to within 48-42, but an inside basket from Arnold and a long 3 from Brown pushed the Illinois lead back to nine, triggering the decisive run.
Illinois used a 15-5 run to open up a 63-47 lead with 4:49 remaining and the Hawkeyes could get no closer than 10 after that.
The Hawkeyes used a 6-0 run to take a 12-6 lead with just over 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Smith’s 3-pointer stopped the spurt and the Illini scored nine of the next 12 points.
They took their first lead with 11:31 to go when Smith’s bounce pass in the lane hit Arnold in stride. He laid it in to make it 17-15 and Iowa never led again.
The Hawkeyes closed the gap to one twice, but two McBride 3-pointers built the Illini lead to 34-27 with 47 seconds left and they led 34-29 at the break.