CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A racehorse basketball game with 22 lead changes turned on a changed officiating call that was horse-something in many Hawkeye minds.
No. 7 Iowa (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten) lost a second-straight game for the first time this season, 80-75 to No. 19 Illinois (11-5, 7-3) Friday night at State Farm Center.
Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini with 25 points. Guard Trent Frazier added a season-high 24. Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza had 19 points apiece for the Hawkeyes.
Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn was called for goaltending on a Wieskamp shot with 1:06 left. Wieskamp would have scored on a putback had the call not been made. Had the call stood, the basket would have cut the Illini’s lead to 76-74, but it was overturned after a five-minute officials’ review. Iowa turned the ball over after the review.
“To me it was just frustrating,” said Wieskamp. “Even if it was a block, I got the rebound and put it back in. Either way ...it should have been two points.”
“We thought we got the 2,” Garza said. “That’s just how it is sometimes.”
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said “I can’t,” when asked to discuss the call, and didn’t.
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The Hawkeyes were behind 78-72 with 23 seconds left, but put themselves back in a position to tie the game after Jordan Bohannon made a 3-pointer and Iowa forced an Illini turnover with 11 seconds remaining.
Bohannon missed a 3, Cockburn rebounded, and missed the front of a one-and-one. But Jack Nunge couldn’t reel in the rebound, Cockburn grabbed it, and made two foul shots to lock up the win.
Illinois scored the first five points of the second half to open a 48-41 lead. The complexion of the game seemingly was altered when Garza was assessed his third foul with 17:30 left, getting him benched in favor of Nunge.
Nunge, however, gave the Hawkeyes excellent defense in the following seven minutes without Garza. He blocked three shots in that stretch, and Illinois’ lead was just 59-58 at the 10:20 timeout when Garza returned.
Garza got his fourth foul with four minutes left and the game tied at 69. He was subbed out for Nunge, but came back with 3:21 left.
The first half ended with Illinois ahead 43-41. The half had 14 lead changes and four ties. Dosunmu and Garza had 10 points apiece in the first seven minutes, and Iowa’s Connor McCaffery established his season-high for points in a game when he reached nine with 12:29 left in the half after converting a four-point play.
Joe Toussaint followed McCaffery with a jumper to give Iowa a 26-20 lead, and the Hawkeyes had a chance to lead by eight points, but Keegan Murray missed a layup.
Illinois turned the miss into a quick basket. Frazier scored, starting a 12-2 Illini run. It was one of five Illini fastbreak scores in the half.
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Iowa peeled off the next five points, however, to regain the lead. It was back-and-forth the rest of the half. Dosunmu swished a 3-pointer with 2:29 left for a 38-36 Illinois edge and to get himself to 19 points in the half, but Garza hit a trey at the other end to put the Hawkeyes back in front.
Illinois led at the half because Frazier swished a one-handed 3-point try to narrowly beat a shot clock violation with 7.2 seconds left in the half. Frazier did a Michael Jordan-like shrug at the Iowa bench after the shot went in the basket.
Murray, the freshman forward from Cedar Rapids, got his first career start because sophomore guard CJ Fredrick was held out of the game with a lower leg injury. Murray had eight points and eight rebounds. Fredrick had started all 15 of Iowa’s previous games.
The Hawkeyes were out-rebounded for the first time this season in Big Ten play, 39-33.
Iowa’s next game is at home Tuesday against Michigan State (8-5, 2-5 Big Ten), with the time yet to be determined. The Spartans play at Ohio State Sunday afternoon.
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