Senior night in Champaign-Urbana didn’t go so well for Jon Ekey and the Illinois Fighting Illini. So, they decided to rain on the Iowa Hawkeyes senior night festivities tonight.
The Illini came out focused and determined, building up a 20-6 lead with 13:50 left in the first half, but Iowa charged back furiously to take the lead at the half 34-29.
Illinois could have packed it in at the half, but that just isn’t this team’s style. They consistently lived up to the Fighting portion of their moniker, eventually taking the lead 55-54 on senior Joseph Bertrand’s jumper with 8:36 left to play. The two teams battled the rest of the way resulting in multiple ties, but Iowa never regained the lead again.
With the two teams deadlocked at 63, Jon Ekey took the pass from Tracy Abrams and drilled the game winning three with Aaron White’s out-stretched hand squarely in his face. When the ball finally fell through the net there was less than 1 second on the clock, and Iowa’s chances of seeing a happy ending on senior night were over.
Illinois did everything they needed to do to win this game tonight. Their defense held Roy Devyn Marble to 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting. The Illini also won the rebounding battle 35-28.
Illinois had four players reach double figures tonight. Rayvonte Rice led the way with 15 points. Nnanna Egwu had 14 points. Jon Ekey had 12 points, and Kendrick Nunn chipped in 10 points.
Iowa had a trio of double digit scorers as they were led in scoring by Aaron White’s 12 points, and both Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell chipped in 11 points a piece.
Illinois will now wait to see if Penn State wins their game tomorrow against Minnesota or not. Should the Nittany Lions win tomorrow, Illinois will be the 7 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and they will play Penn State. If Penn State loses tomorrow, Illinois will be the #9 seed.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.