CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — The 24th-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team fell, 74-72, in a battle that went down to the wire at No. 20 Illinois on Sunday night. Iowa closes out the regular season with an overall record of 22-9 and a 12-8 Big Ten mark.
It was a game of runs at the State Farm Center, with the Hawkeyes asserting a lead as much as 15 points in the first half. The Illini battled back with a 9-0 run to close out the first half, however, Iowa led by six at intermission (43-37).
The lead changed hands five times in the second half. The Hawkeyes got back to an eight-point advantage with 13 minutes to play and retained the lead until the seven-minute mark, but it was the home team who pulled ahead down the stretch, going up by as much as six points with three minutes left on the clock.
Iowa didn’t quit. An and-one conversion from sophomore Tony Perkins cut the Iowa deficit to just two points with 1:01 to go, and sophomore Keegan Murray went to the foul line on the following possession with a chance at three shots to take the lead.
Murray only was able to convert one attempt, however, and Illini veteran Da’Monte Williams went 1-of-2 from the line on the other end to make the score 74-72 with 10 seconds remaining. Sophomore Kris Murray got a last-second look from the corner, but the ball rattled out of the rim as Illinois earned a share of the Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 2005.
Multiple Hawkeyes put up valiant efforts in the exciting conclusion to the college basketball regular season. Keegan Murray finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks for his team-leading ninth double-double of the season.
Perkins also earned a double-double — the first of his career — posting 17 points and a career-best 12 rebounds. The sophomore from Indianapolis has scored double figures in three of Iowa’s last four contests.
Kris Murray added 13 points of his own, the next highest total on the team, while freshman Payton Sandfort scored seven points on 3-of-3 shooting from the floor.
Iowa was 10-of-22 from the free throw line on Sunday. The Hawkeyes improved the rebounding gap against the Illini, getting edged 41-38 in a hard-fought battle on the boards, an improvement from Illinois’ 52-23 rebounding dominance on Dec. 6, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“I thought we played really hard. I thought we competed. We were right there. We have a shot halfway down to win it. Great extra pass there for wide open three. That’s what you want to have in that situation. Tony [Perkins] made a great play. Keegan [Murray] made a great play. We had a lot of good things happen. Tony Perkins had his 17/12/5. I mean he was phenomenal. We only gave up three offensive rebounds the entire second half. Last time when we played them they really pounded us on the glass, in the second half in particular, so we gave ourselves a chance.
It hurts when we miss our free throws. Normally we’re a really good free throw shooting team. We missed a ton coming down the stretch. We were doing what we needed to do to manage the clock and get to the free throw line. Stop the clock, whether we were offense or defense, those guys executed to perfection. Really proud of that. We’ve got a lot of hoop left in this group. Love this team. Really proud of these guys.”
- Iowa lost for just the second time in 10 games, dating back to Feb. 6. Tonight snapped a four-game road win streak for the Hawkeyes.
- Iowa finished in a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten standings with a 12-8 league record. The Hawkeyes earned the No. 5 seed at the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament later this week in Indianapolis. Iowa has secured a top five seed in the last three Big Ten Tournaments (2020, 2021, 2022).
- Iowa has finished fifth place or better in the Big Ten regular season standings six of the last eight years.
- Sophomore Kris Murray’s 3-point attempt from the corner missed at the buzzer.
- Iowa has lost by five points or less in each of its last three visits to the State Farm Center (74-72 in 2022; 80-75 in 2021; 78-76 in 2020).
- Two Hawkeyes posted double-doubles tonight: Keegan Murray and Tony Perkins.
- All-America candidate Keegan Murray posted his team-leading ninth double-double of the season (22 points, 11 rebounds); he also rejected a game-best four shots. Murray is fourth in Iowa single-season scoring with 698 points. The 698 points are the most by any Hawkeye sophomore in program history (previous best was 553 by Chris Kingsbury in 1996).
- Sophomore Tony Perkins registered his first double-double of his career, totaling 17 points and a personal-best 12 rebounds. Perkins has netted double figures in scoring three of the last four contests.
- Redshirt sophomore Patrick McCaffery did not play in tonight’s game (hip/non-covid illness).
- Iowa had a game-best 13-0 scoring surge in the first half, its 24th scoring run of 10-0 or better this season.
- Tonight was Iowa’s fourth straight “Senior Night” game, playing three on the road and one at home (3-1).
No. 24 Iowa (22-9, 12-8) will open Big Ten Tournament play on Thursday at approximately 1 p.m. (CT) against the winner of Nebraska-Northwestern in Indianapolis.