Iowa City, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - After suffering through losses in four of
their past five games, the 24th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will try and cap off
their season with a victory, but they'll have to go through the Illinois
Fighting Illini to do it in a Big Ten Conference battle at Carver-Hawkeye
Illinois is coming off an embarrassing 84-53 loss to 12th-ranked Michigan on
Tuesday, which ended a three-game win streak. Illinois' contest against Iowa
represents the third straight game in which the Illini will battle a Top 25
Iowa started the season by dominating non-conference competition, but has
undergone multiple struggles in conference action this year. The Hawkeyes have
dropped four of their last five games, including an 86-76 setback against
22nd-ranked Michigan State Thursday night. The Hawkeyes are 9-8 in the
conference standings headed into their regular-season finale.
Illinois holds the lead in the all-time series with Iowa, 81-69. The two teams
met head-to-head back on Feb. 1 of this season, which the Hawkeyes won, 81-74,
Michigan dominated Illinois by using two different means in each separate half
on Tuesday. The Wolverines used an offensive explosion in the first half to
score 52 points and take a 52-30 lead over Illinois as the teams headed into
the intermission. Then Michigan used an unforgiving defense to hold the Illini
to just 25 percent shooting in the second half as the Wolverines closed out
the rout. Rayvonte Rice scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead
Illinois, while Kendrick Nunn netted 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the
floor. The Illini missed all 10 of their 3-point tries in the second period.
Rice topped the Illinois squad in scoring this season with a 15.8 ppg average,
connecting on 41.8 percent of his shots from the field in 30 games played. His
well-rounded stat line helped the team stay afloat, as Rice averaged a team-
leading 6.1 rpg, had 48 assists on the year and recorded a team-high 46
steals. Tracy Abrams was the only other Illinois player to average a double-
digit scoring total this season, netting 10.6 ppg with a team-best 96 assists
on the year. The Fighting Illini had a tough time contesting with some of the
better scoring teams in the conference after averaging 64.7 ppg as a unit.
Iowa went into the half on Thursday night leading Michigan State by a 41-39
margin. But the Spartans didn't stay down for long, as they outscored the
Hawkeyes by 12 points in the second half en route to the 10-point victory. Roy
Devyn Marble topped Iowa with 24 points in the contest, adding five assists
and a perfect 4-of-4 mark from the free-throw line. Aaron White chipped in 10
points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. The Hawkeyes shot 46.7 percent from
the field in the loss.
Marble has been a solid performer for the Hawkeyes on the year, netting 17.3
ppg to top the team, adding a team-best 105 assists and 55 steals to his
resume. White, the only other Hawkeyes player to net a double-digit point
average on the season, chips in with 13.3 ppg and a team-best 6.7 rpg average.
Even though Iowa has just two players with a double-digit scoring average, the
Hawkeyes have still produced 83.3 ppg through 30 games played. They also hold
their opponents to just 70.3 ppg.
The Sports Network