After watching their 21-point lead turn into a five-point deficit late in the second half, the Hawkeyes reached deep and pulled out an 81-74 win at rival Illinois. It represented their first victory in Champaign since 1999, Tom Davis' last season as coach.
"We had some stretches where we came apart a little bit," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on his Hawkeye Radio Network Post-Game Show. "That happens on the road. I couldn't be prouder of our toughness."
No. 14 Iowa moved to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten. The win kept the Hawkeyes in third place, two games ahead of their nearest competitor.
Senior Roy Devyn Marble notched 17 points and came up with a huge steal and layup at a critical time late in the game for the winners. Gabe Olaseni provided a spark off of the bench with a career-highs in points (15) and rebounds (12). Aaron White added 14 and six for Iowa.
Clinging to a 73-72 advantage with 1:43 left in regulation, Marble picked off a Joseph Bertrand pass by stretching out into the passing lane with his back turned to his opponent The senior took off on the break, sinking a lay-up and getting fouled by Kendrick Nunn. He converted the free throw.
After a Jon Ekey miss. Iowa's Josh Oglesby misfired on a three-point attempt but Olaseni swooped in for the offensive board. Ekey fouled Marble, who knocked down the two foul shots. The Hawkeyes led by six with :46 to play and it never looked back.
Olaseni led a 32-15 advantage for Iowa in bench points. Th visitors also enjoyed a 41-28 advantage on the boards, including a 15-8 bulge on the offensive glass.
The Hawkeyes sank seven of nine free throws in the final three minutes. Illinois (13-9, 2-7) lost its seventh game in a row.
The Illini built a five-point lead with 8:33 left in the game. Iowa was reeling.
Out of a timeout, Marble calmly drained a trey. Melsahn Basabe picked off an Illinois pass and fed the ball ahead to Anthony Clemmons, who delivered an assist to Olaseni to tie it at 66-66 with 7:24 on the clock. The Hawkeyes then finished the win off with a 15-8 run.
Iowa returns to action Tuesday night when it plays host to Ohio State.