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Coleman Hawkins scores 30, No. 12 Illinois rallies for a 95-85 win over Iowa

Illinois' Coleman Hawkins (33) scores between Iowa's Payton Sandfort, left, and Ben Krikke during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, in Champaign, Ill.

CHAMPAIGN — Coleman Hawkins scored 30 points and No. 12 Illinois rallied from a seven-point deficit in the second half to beat Iowa 95-85 on Saturday.

Terrance Shannon Jr. and Justin Harmon each scored 12 points and Dain Dainja had eight rebounds for the Illini (20-7, 11-5 Big Ten).

Nicco Moretti, who failed to score in Illinois’ last three games, had nine points in the second half, including a pair of 3-pointers, helping spark the late rally. Moretti last scored against Michigan on Jan. 18.

“You can tell Nicco is a coach’s kid,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “He has never asked me what he needs to do to play more. He just shows up and works hard every day. I guarantee you he didn’t know he was going to play 17 minutes today, but he was ready.

“He’s the ultimate team guy, and that was an incredible team win for us. It wasn’t easy.”

It was a bounce-back game for Hawkins, who scored nine points, missed two free throws and fouled Penn State’s Zach Hicks on a 3-point shot in the final 13 seconds of Illinois’ 90-89 loss Wednesday. Hicks’ three free throws with three seconds left won the game.

“What did I do to flush the Penn State game? I got off social media, deleted some apps, and limited who I talked to,” Hawkins said. “Basically, I just had to be a man and own up to my mistakes.”

Josh Dix scored 20 points, Tony Perkins added 18, Payton Sandfort had 12 and Owen Freeman chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds for Iowa (16-12, 8-9), which led 64-57 with 12:15 left in the second half but failed to hold on.

“Hawkins shoots NBA-level 3’s and can take the ball to the hoop. He’s a tough guy to guard,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “And their bench guys are good players. Give them credit. They played well.”

Hawkins scored 13 points in the first nine minutes of the first half as Illinois led 44-43 at the break.

With the win, Illinois remained in second place in the conference, two games behind No. 3 Purdue (13-3), with four Big Ten games remaining.

The Illini and Hawkeyes will meet again on March 10 at Iowa.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: After back-to-back wins over Big Ten heavyweights Wisconsin and Michigan State, the Hawkeyes seemed poised for a late-season run in an effort to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The loss to Illinois derailed those plans, at least for the moment.

Illinois: The Illini defense has been porous this month, and it wasn’t any better against an Iowa team that was averaging 83.4 points coming into the game and has reached 100 points four times this season. Illinois has given up at least 80 points in five of its six February games while going 4-2. Opponents had scored 83 or more points just four times in 20 games before February.

A GRAND VICTORY

Illinois won its 1,000th game in Big Ten play. A charter member of the conference, Illinois is 1,000-757 in the Big Ten in 119 seasons.

SELECT COMPANY

The Illini have won 20 or more games in five straight seasons under Underwood. He’s only the second Illinois coach to accomplish the feat. Lou Henson won 20 or more games nine seasons in a row from 1983-91.

UP NEXT

Iowa: Host Penn State on Tuesday.
Illinois: Host Minnesota on Wednesday.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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