Iowa Beats Illinois, 81-79

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa men’s basketball team defeated Illinois, 81-79, on Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa improves to 15-8 on the season and 7-5 in Big Ten play.

Iowa has won seven of its last nine games after starting the conference slate 0-3.

The Hawkeyes shot 26-of-30 (87 percent) from the free throw line, led by junior Tony Perkins who finished 15-of-16 (94 percent) from the charity stripe against the Illini.

In a back-and-forth battle that saw nine lead changes, Iowa entered the bonus with 14 minutes left to play in the second half and capitalized by going 22-for-25 in the half.

Down 65-64 with just under seven minutes on the clock, Perkins stepped up to the line to hit his ninth and tenth straight free throws of the second half, erasing the final Illini lead of the contest.

Illinois tied the game up three more times down the stretch, but Iowa rallied each time; with 1:23 left on the clock, sophomore Payton Sandfort drilled a go-ahead triple on a second chance look assisted by graduate student Connor McCaffery.

Two possessions later, Sandfort contested a shot at the rim to take the ball back for Iowa and force the game into free throw territory.

With ten seconds left, Perkins split on a pair of free throws, snapping a streak of 15 straight makes; that ties a program record (Andre Woolridge, 1997) for consecutive free throws in a single game, all of which came in the second half.

That put Iowa up by three points, and a foul with one second left on the clock sent Illinois to line where they were forced to intentionally miss the second shot. Connor McCaffery pulled in the rebound securing the Hawkeye victory.

Perkins was the game’s leading scorer with a career-best 32 points. He finished 8-of-11 (73 percent) from the floor and added three rebounds, two assists and two steals to his stat line.

Junior Kris Murray was next for Iowa with 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. Murray hit a triple to bring the Hawkeyes within one heading into halftime and finished 7-of-9 (78 percent) from the free throw line.

Sandfort finished with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from behind the arc, while fifth year Filip Rebraca added 13 points for the Hawkeyes.

“Well, it is absolutely critical [that Iowa allowed just two turnovers in the second half], with the way they rebound. They are as good as rebounding team as there is in the country. We were outrebounded by 11. If you turn them 14 times and you only turn it seven, it kind of evens it a little bit…

[With regard to Tony Perkins], it was, ok this guy’s cooking. Just keep going. What was impressive to me about that was that the players that were on the floor with him, they were yelling out plays to me that we should be running for him. So, they recognized, ‘ok this guy is on fire. We are going to him. Nobody else is shooting the ball right now.’ It helped that we were in the double bonus. We got into the bonus pretty quickly, pretty much because of him. We just kept going to him. I have been doing this for a long time, and I haven’t had too many guys go off like that. That was impressive.”


  • The Hawkeyes have won seven of their last nine games, dating back to Jan. 5.
  • Iowa snapped a five-game losing streak to Illinois with today’s two-point win.
  • Five of last six meetings between Iowa and Illinois have been decided by five points or fewer.
  • Tony Perkins netted a game and personal-best 32 points, reaching 15+ points for the eighth time this season. Perkins made 15 consecutive free throws to start the game before missing his final attempt (15-of-16). He tied the school record for most consecutive free throws made in an Iowa single game (Woolridge made 15 straight on March 8, 1997 against Northwestern). Perkins made 20 straight free throws spanning the last two games; he made his final five attempts against Northwestern on Tuesday.
  • With the game even 76-76 with under two minutes remaining, Iowa junior Payton Sandfort sank his third triple of the game with 1:23 remaining in the second half to put the Hawkeyes in front to stay. Iowa improved to 8-2 this season when Sandfort makes multiple 3-pointers in a game.
  • All-America candidate Kris Murray totaled 19 points and grabbed team bests in rebounds (7) and assists (3).
  • Perkins became the 12th different Hawkeye in the Fran McCaffery era to score 30 points or more.
  • Iowa won its 12th home game of the season (12-2).
  • Iowa (7) had seven fewer turnovers than Illinois (14). The Hawkeyes only committed two turnovers in the second half.

Iowa (15-8, 7-5) returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 9, at nationally ranked Purdue in the only regular season meeting between the two teams. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:01 p.m. (CT) at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.