Iowa City, Ia. — Illinois made a season-high 133-pointers Wednesday. And missed just five.
That uncanny display of accuracy fueled the 23rd-ranked Illini to a 87-77 victory against Iowa in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, sold out for the first time in 42 games.
“When you shoot the ball like that, it makes you look good,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.
Illinois shot 66.7 percent from the field, making 32-of-48 shots. The 87 points were the most Iowa has allowed in a game this year.
An announced crowd of 15,500, the first sellout since a March 1, 2008 game against Illinois, saw the Illini start hot and never cool off. Demetri McCamey led Illinois (11-3) with 20 points and 10 assists. He made four of five 3-pointers.
“McCamey is one of the best players in the country,” first-year Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
D.J. Richardson added 17 points, and made 5-of-7 3-pointers. Bill Cole was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range off the bench.
“I don’t know that I remember a game where one guy made five, one made four and another made four,” McCaffery said.
Matt Gatens led Iowa with 21 points, and made 5-of-10 3-pointers. Bryce Cartwright added 13 points and Eric May had 12. Jarryd Cole had seven offensive rebounds in the second half and finished with 10 boards.
The Illini entered Big Ten play on a two-game slide. They made just 5-of-18 3-pointers in a loss to Missouri an
d only 4-of-17 in a loss to Illinois-Chicago.
But Weber’s team was borderline ridiculous from that distance against an Iowa team that fell to 7-6 overall. Illinois made its first seven 3-point attempts of the game and was 10-of-12 while taking a 49-37 halftime lead.
Those first seven triples came before the second media timeout, with 11:45 to play in the half. That was more 3s than Illinois, shooting 39.7 percent this season from that distance entering the game, had made in six of its previous 13 games this season.
Iowa tried to keep pace, with 3-pointers accounting for three of its first four baskets. But after making six straight field-goal attempts to take a 15-11 lead in the game’s first 5 minutes, the Hawkeyes missed seven straight shots, mixed in with a pair of turnovers. The sizzling Illini went on a 16-0 run over the next 6 minutes and change.
“We worked on a lot of things defensively that we thought we could have success with,” McCaffery said. “Obviously, in the first half, that was not the case.”
Illinois started the second half on a 9-2 run to take a 19-point lead. Iowa went on a 10-0 run to get back in the game, and later cut the deficit to 65-59 on Devyn Marble’s baseline drive.
“When you get off to a9-2 start it usually knocks a team out,” Weber said. “But they made a run at us.”
McCamey cut the legs out of Iowa’s comeback by making a driving floater with a second hanging on the shot clock, then buried a 3-pointer on the next Illini possession.
“We hadn’t been making plays the last couple of weeks,” Weber said. “This time we made them.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball