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Illinois Earns First Win in Iowa City Since 2017

The Illini won for the first time in Iowa City since 2017. The Illini's strong performance sets up a tough test vs. Arizona on Saturday.
Illinois Iowa Basketball

Photo: IlliniMBB/Twitter

The last time Illinois won at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Malcolm Hill scored 21 points en route to a four-point win.

Monday night, without Andre Curbelo, the Illini snapped a two-game losing streak in Iowa City behind strong rebounding and stellar three-point shooting, ultimately defeating the Hawkeyes 87-83.

What Happened?

Illinois dominated Iowa on the boards, compiling 57, including 23 on the offensive glass, to Iowa's 25.

Kofi Cockburn started slow but finished strong to compile an 18-point, 17-rebound performance. Illinois' interior defense and consistent attack with Cockburn inside slowly put the Hawkeyes to rest.

It was arguably Illinois' most impressive win of the season, considering it was a tough road test against a longtime rival.

However, Iowa hasn't played anyone noteworthy outside of Purdue and Virginia. Only time will tell, and Illini fans should expect the Hawkeyes to be a better team by season's end.

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Iowa's three-point shooting kept this close, and Illinois didn't help themselves with 14 turnovers. The Hawkeyes shot 8-for-23 from the perimeter and forced nine steals and five blocks on the interior to get things going in transition.

Iowa only shot 44.9 percent despite their outside shooting, and seven missed free throws loomed large for the Hawkeyes.

Illinois dominated in the half-court and, in the end, was able to negate its turnovers. The Illini shot 85 percent from the free-throw line and held their own on the offensive and defensive glass.

Jacob Grandison scored 21 points off the bench for Illinois, which helped keep the Illini afloat when Iowa went on a 21-2 run in the first half and pressed at specific points in the second half.

Additionally, super senior Trent Frazier had 18 points and eight rebounds. Alfonso Plummer started the game hot, scoring 11 points in the first 10 minutes. He finished with 21 points, his fifth straight game of 20 or more points. He also had the backbreaker to win in the final seconds.

Illinois had more than one 10-second violation in the backcourt, giving Iowa momentum many times when the game looked to be over. But in the end, it didn't matter, and Illinois moved to 2-0 in the Big Ten. The Illini are now 18-4 in their last 22 conference games.

What's On Tap Next?

Illinois has now won five straight contests, and the schedule doesn't get any easier as No. 11 Arizona comes to the State Farm Center on Saturday. The Illini have yet to lose a home game this season. They haven't lost a home game since Ohio State came to Champaign in January last season.

Arizona (7-0) has already been a thorn in the side of a Big Ten opponent, defeating Michigan 80-62 on November 21. Outside of a four-point victory over Wichita State, Arizona has dominated teams. Not only will this game be a big test for Illinois, but Arizona is looking for more respect out of the Pac-12. Tip-off is at 4:00 PM CST and the game will air on FOX.