Hangin' Tough

Feb. 1, 2009

By Sean Neugent

Box Score

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.– The University of Iowa men’s basketball team hung tight with No. 20 Illinois but could not muster enough offense and fell 62-54 inside Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The Hawkeyes (12-10 overall and 2-7 Big Ten Conference) shot 21 of 51 (41 percent) from the field, 9 of 27 (33 percent) from three-point range and were only able to get to the charity stripe twice making 3 of 4. Illinois (18-4, 6-3) shot 23 of 48 (48 percent) from the floor, 4 of 13 (31 percent) from deep and 12 of 16 (75 percent) from the free throw line.

“We have had some problems on the rebounding,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “I have addressed it. I have talked a little bit about strength over the last couple of weeks. We just don’t quite have Big Ten strength. But we are also short a couple of bodies too with Cyrus (Tate) out.”

Iowa was led by sophomore Jeff Peterson who had 12-points, freshman Matt Gatens and sophomore Jarryd Cole each had 10-point efforts. Junior Jermain Davis grabbed six boards and Peterson led the assists category with six to zero turnovers. The Fighting Illini was led by Mike Tisdale who had 18 points and Dominique Keller added 12.

Gatens and Palmer quickly delivered two three’s out of the gate for the Hawkeyes to take a 6-2 lead. The Fighting Illini came right back and took a 9-6 advantage with 15:10 remaining in the half. A few minutes later Fuller drilled an open trifecta to knot the game up at 15-15.

A bigger Illinois lineup was able to bully the Hawkeyes and take advantage in the rebounding department but the Hawkeyes hung in tough and stayed right with the Fighting Illini. Illinois took a four point lead but Iowa’s pesky defense held the Fighting Illini scoreless for over five minutes. Defense allowed the Hawkeyes to tie it back up with back to back layups from Cole with 6:15 to go. Cole again nailed back-to-back layups with assists from Gatens and Davis to take the Hawkeyes first lead since the opening minutes of the game at 25-21.

The Hawkeyes had a lapse in judgment with a little over one-second remaining when Fuller passed the ball to half-court before Illinois’ Chester Taylor stole the ball and swished a deep three at the buzzer. Taylor’s trey would have tied the score going into halftime but video evidence showed that time expired just before he released the ball. The Hawkeyes were satisfied going into the locker room with a 25-22 advantage. Iowa was led by Cole in the first half who made all five of his shots for ten points.

“We were all playing with confidence,” Peterson said. “Even if we did make a mistake in the first half it wasn’t like we would get down on ourselves we just would get to the other end get a stop and come back down and score. I think in the second half we just started getting down on ourselves and that can’t happen.”

Illinois was able to get off to a hot start in the second half hitting three straight baskets and added two free throws to regain the lead 31-28. Gatens was able to tie it up with a trey at 33-33 with 16:02 left in the game. Cole fouled on Illinois next possession and picked up his fourth personal.

The Hawkeyes had a tough time containing Tisdale who scored six straight points before Chester Frazier and Keller followed it up when they both hit from deep-range. Iowa sophomore Jake Kelly came back and hit one of his own but Keller drained a layup before he was fouled by Gatens and made the bonus shot.

Peterson hit a key three to keep the Hawkeyes in it as they trailed 46-42. Peterson followed it up by assisting junior David Palmer down low for an easy dunk to cut Illinois’ lead to two. Illinois held Iowa scoreless for a few minutes and was able to take a 52-45 lead.

After a lack of scoring, the Fighting Illini was able to break through Iowa’s stingy defense as Tisdale made a dunk and take a 54-47 advantage. Kelly misfired on the Hawkeyes ensuing possession. Fuller fouled Jeff Jordan but Jordan missed on the one-and-one and Iowa was able to get a tip-in from Palmer on their next possession to trail 54-49 with .52-seconds remaining. Illinois made two from the charity stripe and Peterson followed it up and nailed a trey to trail 58-54 with 25-seconds remaining. Two more free throws would seal the game for Illinois in a tightly contested battle.

“The guys did get a little bit tired but that shouldn’t really be an excuse,” Peterson said. “It is really frustrating because for parts of the game you could really see that we were controlling the game especially in the first half. It was like we hit a wall in that second half.”

“We should have tried to sneak out at halftime I guess,” Lickliter said. “I thought we played pretty well up until halftime but we had some spurts in the second half too. I have a lot of respect for the Illinois team and I was telling Bruce (Weber) that they obviously have good chemistry, they’re skilled, they find one another, and they made plays when they needed to obviously. Our guys are fighting hard and I think their play is better than what their record would indicate but you’re only graded on the record.”

Iowa will travel to Bloomington, Ind.,. on Wednesday for a showdown against Indiana with a 5:35 p.m. tipoff.

“We have to stay positive even though it isn’t going the way we want it to go,” Peterson said. “We are right there, if we stay positive. Then we just have to start executing and finishing the game.”