Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 10, 2016

Illinois? improbable march in the Big Ten tourney continues with an upset of No. 5 Iowa after an opening-round win vs. Minnesota. This from a team that went 5-13 in the Big Ten this season. Maybe we should have seen this coming. Iowa struggled down the stretch, watching a 10-1 start in the Big Ten melt into a 12-6 finish.


At one point, the Hawkeyes had a four-game losing streak before ending the year with a win at Michigan. Now, they have lost again. Illinois is doing all it can put a happy ending on what has been a tough season, as injuries have taken a toll. But Illinois does not want this season to end.

Up next is No. 4 Purdue, which Illinois dispatched earlier this season, 84-70.

Top star: Kendrick Nunn, Maverick Morgan and Jalen Coleman-Lands all scored in double-figures. But Coleman-Lands was the star. The freshman finished with 17 points and hit 5-of-10 3-pointers and set the school's 3-point mark for freshmen in the process.

Top stat line: Iowa?s Peter Jok was a force. At one point in the first half, Jok scored 11 consecutive points. He hit 10-of-16 shots (4-of-6 3-pointers) with four rebounds and three steals and finished with 29 points before fouling out late. Iowa could have used him down the stretch.

Top dunk: Iowa freshman Nicholas Baer had a dunk late in the second half when Iowa was making its run.

It was over when: Illinois led by double digits with just over four minutes remaining, but a three-point play by Nicholas Baer tied it up 66-66 with 1:40 remaining. But Malcolm Hill answered with a jumper to give Illinois the winning points. Iowa?s last two possessions were a missed shot and turnover.

Did you see this? With four minutes left in the game, Iowa?s Peter Jok pushed Illinois? Terrance Nunn after a basket. That resulted in a double-technical, and it was Jok?s fifth foul. Iowa could have used him.

Notable: Illinois had 20 assists, which epitomizes the unselfish play of the Illini. … In the last 10 Big Ten tourneys, Iowa has gone one-and-done eight times. When it didn?t, it won one game. … Iowa is 2-6 in its last eight games. … Illinois is 8-2 as a double-digit seed. … Malcolm Hill became the first Illini player in school history to record 600 points, 200 rebounds and 100 assists in a season. … It wasn?t the best game for Iowa?s Mike Gesell, especially at the end. But he did become the school?s single-season assist record holder with 194. … No. 20 Iowa marks the eighth ranked opponent on the Illini schedule. Illinois is 2-6 against Top 25 teams this season, recording an 84-70 victory over No. 20 Purdue on Jan. 10 at State Farm Center.