CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Brian Randle scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out six assists in his best effort so far this season in leading Illinois to a 74-70 victory over Iowa on Wednesday.
Randle missed nine games following surgery to repair a groin injury he aggravated while dunking in the Illini’s season opener.
Illinois (13-5, 1-2 Big Ten) built an 11-point advantage in the first 10 minutes, leading the Hawkeyes 16-5 with 10:43 to play in the first half. Iowa then went on a 12-3 run over a 4:35 span to narrow Illinois’ lead to 21-19.
The teams traded shots until shortly before the break, when Justin Johnson sunk a three-pointer with three seconds left to give Iowa (9-7, 1-1) a 31-29 advantage.
Illinois and Iowa matched shots for the first six minutes of the second half, but Jamar Smith made a pair of free throws and Rich McBride sank a three-pointer to give Illinois a 46-45 lead and a momentum boost. Illinois’ forwards scored 16 of Illinois’ next 17 points, including a string of three dunks to seal the lead at 65-52 with 5:32 to go.
Iowa eventually made it a 1-point game as Adam Haluska made a three to make the score 71-70 Illinois with 32 seconds to go. But Trent Meacham made a pair of free throws for Illinois and Randle added one more as Iowa tried to stop the clock with 18.3 seconds left. But Randle’s free throw would be the last score.
Illini forwards Warren Carter and Shaun Pruitt scored 16 points each and McBride finished with 15 as the team snapped a three-game losing streak.