It was the fifth time Iowa has rallied from down at least 18 points to pull out a victory. However, the Hawkeyes got after it on defense and Luka Garza had a breakout performance to help them outlast IL 104-97 in overtime for its first conference win.
Iowa's second-biggest comeback took place on January 14, 1987, also in Champaign, Ill.
Iowa's 104 points are its most in a Big Ten game since 1995 against Northwestern (W, 116-77).
"It's huge", Cook admitted after he and his teammates improved to 1-5 in the Big Ten, 10-9 overall.
Bench scoring was controlled by IL with 41 points off the bench compared to Iowa's 13 points.
Illinois falls to 0-5 in Big Ten play
Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said Iowa stated to find its way even before the 10-0 burst.
"We've had a wide spectrum of guys out, literally since Minnesota", Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. "We've just got to be consistent", the speedy lefty out of Florida said. "I just need to do a better job at halftime, find a way somehow".
The second half and overtime belonged to Garza and Ryan Kriener. Kaliya Griffin connected on a three-point shot late in the third quarter to give the Tigers the lead going into the fourth quarter.
Tyler Cook registered his second double-double of the season (21 points, 13 rebounds).
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IL has been able to stay in games with its offense faltering because of three things - aggressive ball pressure defense, offensive rebounding and limiting turnovers.
Illinois, fueled by runs of 13-0 and 10-0 run early in the game, leaped to a 54-41 halftime lead and seemed headed to an easy home win. Altogether the Hawkeyes scored 63 points in the second half and overtime.
"What did I say at halftime?"
In the overtime period, Iowa took control of the game and made sure IL would not come back again. "Well, nothing that smart". Back then, the Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini were archrivals and every game was outstanding. Their 14 of 14 mark from the line in the first half kept them in the game. They're not a real big set team.
The Fighting Illini lost to the Michigan Wolverines in their last game, 79-69. "I mean, I gotta figure this out". It will be talked about like all bad memories that just won't go away. You don't accept losing. The Illini managed the first two in Saturday's loss at MI, but the fact that Mark Smith, Trent Frazier and Te'Jon Lucas combined for 14 of the Illini's 17 turnovers in the 10-point defeat certainly didn't help their cause.
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Jordan Bohannan's 3-point dagger that essentially took the air out of the State Farm Center crowd, not to mention the IL team, coaches and bench.
Junior forward Nicholas Baer (10 points) and Bohannon swished back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 54-51 with 17:52 to go.
Frazier's 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime was so close the referees spent almost two minutes studying the replay before awarding Frazier his basket, at which point State Farm Center exploded in cheers.
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