Hill's 21, Lucas block help Illini hold off Iowa 70-66

Illinois guard Jaylon Tate, left, fights for a loose ball with Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. Illinois won 70-66. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


After-thoughts from Iowa’s 70-66 loss to Illinois:

--Freshman Tyler Cook really showed what he can do offensively Saturday, abusing the bigger, more experienced Maverick Morgan around the basket a few times on his way to scoring 14 points. But Cook also had a few struggles defensively, got into foul trouble and again grabbed only three rebounds for the fourth consecutive games. In his past seven games, he has collected only 21 boards. The Hawkeyes need more than that from him.

--Illinois’ Malcolm Hill not only scored 21 points, including four important free throws in the final seconds, but he also did a very good did good job defensively on Peter Jok. The Iowa senior only got off eight shots while scoring 16 points.

--Freshman Jordan Bohannon had a decent game but he came up short during a damaging sequence with about two minutes remaining. Bohannon, an 87.5-percent free throw shooter for the season, went to the line with Illinois leading 62-61 but missed both shots. On Iowa’s next possession, he saw an open lane to the basket and took it but had his shot blocked by fellow 6-foot freshman Te’Jon Lucas. The Hawkeyes never did regain the lead after that.

--Iowa’s press was very effective at times, especially in the middle of the second half after Illinois had surged into a 50-46 lead. Nicholas Baer got a dunk off a Jok steal and Cordell Pemsl then dove to poke the ball loose near midcourt. Christian Williams missed the resulting layup but Jok tipped it in. For the game, the Hawkeyes forced Illinois into 17 turnovers.

--The Hawkeyes had only 11 assists in the contest, which equaled their lowest single-game total of the Big Ten season. They also had 11 in that double-overtime loss at Nebraska. The only time this season they had less than that was when they had eight in a late-November loss to Virginia.

--Illinois came out crashing the boards and got four offensive rebounds in the first four minutes. During the first TV timeout, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was extremely animated in addressing his team in the huddle and his players apparently heard him. Illinois got only four more offensive boards the rest of the game.

--The Hawkeyes’ NCAA tournament hopes probably set sail with the loss — unless they find a way to win the Big Ten tournament — and they have their work cut out for them to even finish the season above .500. They are now 14-13 and play a very capable Indiana team on Tuesday night, then go on the road to face Big Ten co-leaders Maryland and Wisconsin before finishing at home against Penn State.