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Iowa Illinois Basketball

Illinois forward Michael Finke (43) defends Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon during the first half of a Jan. 11 game between the two teams. Finke has announced he is leaving the Illinois program.

After-thoughts from Iowa’s 104-97 overtime victory over Illinois:

--It certainly was not a perfect performance by the Hawkeyes. Their ball movement on offense in the first half was as poor as it has been all season, which led to an early 13-0 scoring run by the Illini. At one point in the first half, the Illinois lead was as high as 20. But you couldn’t help but be impressed by the Hawkeyes’ guts and resilience in battling back from that deficit. A 12-5 spree to finish the first half and a 10-0 blast to begin the second half wiped out most of the deficit. After appearing to have the game won in regulation before a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Trent Frazier, they bounced back to dominate the overtime period.

--Iowa players admitted to being surprised at how well Illinois shot the ball against the Hawkeyes’ zone defense. The Illini made 9 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half and finished with a season-high 14 3s. They were shooting better than 50 percent almost the entire game before going 3 for 11 in overtime and finishing at 48.6 percent. That’s still their best mark since Dec. 3.

--Perhaps the biggest reason Iowa won the game: It outrebounded Illinois 45-26. The Illini got three of their first five baskets on putbacks, then were thoroughly dominated on the boards the rest of the way. They got only 14 defensive rebounds in the game, an extraordinarily low number in an overtime game in which 201 points were scored. Tyler Cook was a monster for Iowa on the defensive boards and Luka Garza was equally imposing on the offense end.

--The Hawkeyes also caught a few breaks in the game, something that hasn’t happened much in their first five Big Ten games. They were whistled for only 17 fouls to 31 for Illinois, which had four players foul out. There also was a key play with about three minutes remaining in regulation in which Cook poked the ball away on defense. It appeared to be going out of bounds before it hit one of the officials and stayed inbounds for Cook to retrieve it. Since the Hawkeyes led by just one point (83-82) at the time, it was a very important play.

--Iowa coach Fran McCaffery pointed out that Jordan Bohannon responded much better to Illinois’ hyper-aggressive, physical defensive tactics against him than he sometimes has in previous games. Bohannon still turned the ball over four times, but he also drained five 3-point field goals and set career highs for free throws attempted (10) and made (10) on his way to scoring 29 points.

--Iowa backup center Ryan Kriener had one of his best games of the season, playing 12 valuable minutes off the bench to give Garza a breather. Kriener finished with five points and four rebounds, and hit an important 15-foot jumper as the shot clock ran out with 7:30 to go.

--It definitely was a coming-of-age night for Garza. The 6-foot-11 freshman scored 10 of Iowa’s last 11 points in regulation, had a big 3-point play in overtime and made all nine of his free throw attempts. He had his third career double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) but this is the first one against a really legitimate opponent. The other two came against Alabama State and Southern University.

--McCaffery rejected the notion that he has shortened rotation, pointing out that he used 11 players in the first half, But Ahmad Wagner played just two minutes, Jack Nunge played only three and Cordell Pemsl, who didn’t have a very good night, was out there for only seven minutes.

--It wasn’t quite the usual raucous State Farm Center atmosphere. With the students on break, there wasn’t much of an Orange Krush cheering section. Those of us seated in press row often could clearly hear Iowa coach Fran McCaffery chewing out his players and assistant coaches.

--One of the sequences that most enraged McCaffery came at the end of regulation. With 5.2 seconds remaining and Iowa ahead by three, the Hawkeyes fouled Aaron Jordan rather than letting the Illini shoot a 3-pointer. Jordan made two free throws and Garza countered with two of his own to restore the 3-point cushion. But rather than foul again in the final seconds, his players let Frazier swoop up the sideline to hit a game-tying 3 and send the game to overtime. That led to a heated exchange between McCaffery and assistant coach Kirk Speraw.

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