By JAMES ALLAN
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It took the third largest comeback in school history, but the end result was the University of Iowa men’s basketball team’s first Big Ten victory of the season.
The Hawkeyes trailed by 49-29 with 3:53 remaining in the first half before rallying for a 104-97 overtime victory at Illinois on Thursday night at the State Farm Center. Iowa moves to 10-9 overall, 1-5 in Big Ten action.
Iowa outscored the Fighting Illini, 14-7, in the bonus frame after Illinois’ Trent Frazier hit a runner from 3-point range with under a second remaining to send the game to overtime.
The buzz-beater didn’t faze Iowa, as the team took control by scoring the first nine points of OT. Junior Nicholas Baer made 1-of-2 free throws to give Iowa a 91-90 lead before sophomore Tyler Cook slammed home a dunk off a set play to put the lead to 93-90.
On Iowa’s next possession, Garza snared an offensive rebound and scored while falling to the ground and he made the and one to complete the three point play. Jordan Bohannon’s dagger 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining stretched the Hawkeye lead to 99-90.
The Hawkeyes made five more free throws down the stretch to finish with 104 points — Iowa’s largest output against Illinois in the series that dates back to 1908.
Iowa shot 50 percent from the field for the game, making 32-of-64 field goals. The Hawkeyes were +19 on the glass (45-26) and they went 33-of-40 from the free throw line (Illinois was 11-of-14).
Bohannon led all scorers with 29 points, making 7-of-16 field goals, including five 3-pointers, to go along with a 10-for-10 night from the free throw stripe. It was Bohannon’s second-highest point total this season and his highest in a Big Ten game.
“Jordan was great all game long,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “He kept his composure because they came after him. They came after him last year and they came after him again. He was ready this time.”
Cook and Garza both posted double-doubles and a total of five Hawkeyes reached double figures. Cook finished with 21 points — on 9-of-14 shooting — and 13 rebounds, while Garza had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Sophomore Isaiah Moss and Baer finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Illinois made nine 3-pointers and shot 54.1 percent in the first half to build a double-digit lead. Iowa led 4-2 in the infant stages of the game before the Fighting Illini reeled off a 13-0 run to take a 15-4 advantage.
Iowa was out of sorts in the first half, eventually falling behind by as many as 20 points, but the Hawkeyes started to right the ship leading into half, trimming the deficit to 54-41.
“It was a manageable number at halftime, that was important,” said McCaffery. “We were down 20 in the first half, but we weren’t down 20 at halftime. We scored the first 10 points of second half, so now it’s a two possession game so it’s a completely different game with 17 minutes to go.”
Iowa opened the second half on a 10-0 run, capped by a Baer and Bohannon 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three points. The Hawkeyes tied the game at 66 with 12:06 remaining and again at 79 with 5:44 left, but they didn’t retake the lead until Garza went off with a personal 8-0 spurt.
Iowa led 90-87 with 5.2 seconds remaining when Frazier took the inbounds pass, drove the court, crossed up Maishe Dailey, and hit a runner with under a second remaining to send the game to overtime.
Frazier paced Illinois with 27 points, making 10-of-20 field goals, including seven 3-pointers. He had 18 3-pointers in 17 games heading into Thursday’s contest.
It is the third time in school history that Iowa has rallied from a 20-point deficit to win. The Hawkeyes trailed by 23 points (38-15) with 13 seconds remaining in the first half in an eventual 65-56 win over Gardner-Webb in 2012 and trailed by 22 points (61-39) with 16 minutes left at Illinois in 1987 in a 91-88 overtime triumph.
Freshman Luka Garza was a non-factor in the first half against Illinois on Thursday, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds in 14 minutes. In the second half, Garza was the X-factor.
The Washingon, D.C., native scored 17 of his 19 points in second half and overtime and he grabbed six more rebounds to finish off his third double-double of the season. Garza scored eight straight points during a key stretch where Iowa took its first lead since the second minute of the game.
“The critical thing was (Ryan) Kreiner’s performance that allowed (Luka) to be fresh at that time of the game,” said McCaffery. “When Luka came in, he came in with energy and confidence. He had played well up until that point, and he was looking for the opportunity. That spurt was huge for us and him.”
STEP UP AND HIT ‘EM
The Hawkeyes had a decisive advantage at the free throw stripe, finishing with season-highs in makes (33) and attempts (40). Iowa made its first 17 free throws in the game; Bohannon and Garza had perfect nights, going 10-for-10 and 9-for-9, respectively.
- Iowa forced Illinois into committing 31 fouls and four Illini players fouled out in the contest.
- The Hawkeyes had 17 offensive rebounds, turning them into 18 second-chance points.
- Iowa committed 17 turnovers in the game, but only six came in the second half and in overtime.
- Iowa’s 104 points are its most in a Big Ten game since 1995 against Northwestern (W, 116-77).
- Iowa scores 100+ points in a Big Ten road game for the first time since beating Michigan State, 103-87, on March 3, 1998.
The Hawkeyes close out their three-game road trip Wednesday when they travel to Piscataway for a 6 p.m. (CT) matchup at Rutgers.