Illinois (14-12, 4-9) at Iowa (14-12, 6-7)
Date & Time: February 18th, 1:06 p.m. CT
Location: Carver Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
- Saturday's game is being dubbed a "white out" fans are encouraged to wear white to the game.
- Iowa will be wearing white warmups with the number 30 on the front and Arnold on the back in honor of former Hawkeye, Kenny Arnold, who is battling health problems.
- Iowa is 38-22 in Big Ten home games during Fran McCaffery's tenure.
- The week off was Iowa's second and last 'bye week' of the season.
- Illinois beat the Hawkeyes 76-64 in their first meeting. Michael Finke had 17 points for Illinois.
- Jordan Bohannon was battling the flu bug during the meeting in Champaign. Peter Jok sat out the two games following the loss to Illinois with a back injury.
- Illinois is 1-5 in Big Ten road games. Their only win came in their last roadie against Northwestern.
- Both Malcolm Hill and Maverick Morgan average double figures for the Illini.
- Illinois has six seniors on their team. Both Tracy Abrams and Mike Thorne are in their sixth year of eligibility.
- Iowa holds a 19-11 advantage in the all-time series for games played inside Carver Hawkeye. Iowa has also won two of the last three games.
- Iowa moves to .500 in the Big Ten at 7-7 with a win.
- Three of Iowa's last five games are one plays. (Indiana, Wisconsin, and Penn State)
- Illinois has lost four of the last five games.
Jordan Bohannon (FR): Bohannon really struggled in Iowa's last game against Michigan State. He was 0-of-8 from the field and 0-of-6 from three in a game that he did not score. He is averaging 11.2 points in the last five games and is second on the team in steals during that time with 7. Jordan scored just three points the last time out against Illinois. He was sick during that one.
Isaiah Moss (RSFR): Moss is fifth on the team in scoring in the last eight games averaging 8 points per. He has shown the ability to score in bunches, but also disappears for good long stretches. He had 0 points in 6 minutes the first time the Hawkeyes and the Illini met. Moss had just 2 points in 16 minutes against Michigan State.
Peter Jok (SR): He still leads the Big Ten in scoring and paces the Hawkeyes in the last five averaging over 17 points per game. He also leads the team averaging over 6 rebounds per game. Jok had 13 points and 8 assists in the loss to Michigan State and, much like everyone else, struggled from the field. He had 10 points in the last game against Illinois.
Ahmad Wagner (SO): Wagner is averaging just over 17 minutes per game in the last five, so it isn't much, but he's giving Iowa good minutes averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds. Wagner had 12 points and five rebounds during Iowa's loss in Champaign back in late January, making him a standout for Iowa in the contest.
Tyler Cook (FR): Cook is third on the team averaging just over 10 points in the last five games. He's giving Iowa good production on offense, but still loses minutes late in the game because of his lack of rebounding and defense. He had 5 points and 3 rebounds in 17 minutes the last time Iowa and Illinois met up.
Iowa Bench Pieces
Nicholas Baer (RSSO): Baer is Iowa's do-everything guy. Points, boards, steals, blocks, hustle plays, you name it and Baer does it well. He is averaging 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and almost 2 steals per game in the last five. Baer will play as many minutes as he can handle. He had 12 points and 7 rebounds in 30 minutes last time against Illinois.
Brady Ellingson (RSSO): Brady cooled off in the last couple of games, but is still shooting 65% from three in the last five games. When he's clicking, he's always a threat to score. He's smart on offense and is an exceptional defender. He is averaging 7.8 points per game in the teams' last five games.
Cordell Pemsl (FR): Pemsl has been a guy that is needing some more playing time lately. He is averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds over the last five and is only playing about 18 minutes per game. Pemsl's 10 offensive rebounds rank second on the team during that span and he is shooting 58% from the field. He had six points and four rebounds in 11 minutes in the last game against Illinois
Christian Williams (SO): Williams is averaging 2 points and an assist in the last five games for Iowa, but is only playing about 12 minutes per game. He did a good job spelling Bohannon in the first Illinois game. He played 16 minutes and had 7 points.
Ryan Kriener (FR): Kriener's minutes have dwindle lately. He's starting to show some signs of being a freshman and is playing just 9 minutes per game in the last five. He can give Iowa good minutes off the bench when he is playing his game.
Dom Uhl (JR): Dom's energy has been huge in the past few games. He's averaging 5 points, 3 rebounds, and a couple of assists in the last five games, while playing about 16 minutes per. He's shooting 38% from three in the last five as well.
Te'Jon Lucas (FR): Lucas has turned into a pretty nice piece for the Illini. He got inserted into the starting lineup about a month back, which is something the Illini faithful were calling for. He has the ability to get to the rim and is a solid facilitator. He had 11 points and 7 assists in Illinois' last game against Penn State.
Malcolm Hill (SR): Hill is one of the best scorers in the Big Ten. He averages 17 points and 6 rebounds for an underachieving Illini team this year. Hill had 14 points on 6-10 shooting in Illinois' loss to Penn State about a week ago. Iowa needs to make sure Hill doesn't get going early.
Le'Ron Black (SO): Black can be a dangerous player because he has the ability to play with his back to the basket and step out to hit a 15 footer. He played just 14 minutes against Penn State and had 14 points. He's sort of seen his minutes diminish due to Michael Finke's stellar play.
Kipper Nichols (FR): Nichols was another player that the Illini faithful were calling for in the middle of January. He gives Illinois an athletic forward that can defend and do a lot of things with his athleticism. He's perfect from the three point arc in his last 3 games (6-6).
Maverick Morgan (SR): Morgan is a player that just about every coach would take on his team. He works hard, he can play with his back to the basket, and he's got a nice mid-range jump shot. Morgan is the teams second leading scorer and can sneak up on you if you are not careful. Iowa needs to now where Morgan is at all times. He's a productive player.
What to Watch
First Four Minutes
I'll be watching how fast, or slow, Iowa starts on Saturday afternoon. That was a big issue for a good chunk of the season and it was glaring in the loss to Illinois in Champaign. The Hawkeyes allowed the Illini to get out to a 10-0 lead about two and half minutes into the game and it was pretty much smooth sailing for Illinois after that. They took a 16 point lead into the locker room and were able to relax in the second half and play without a lot of pressure. They let a fairly young team gain a bunch of confidence right out of the gate and when they have two experienced seniors on their team, that will spell trouble. The first four minutes of each half are always crucial and I'll be looking to see what happens during those stretches.
Iowa allowed Illinois to shoot 47% from three in their game in Champaign. That can't happen again. They were 9-of-19 from three and made 6-of-11 in the first half, which helped build that big lead. That put the Hawkeyes out of the game right from the get go. They'll need to keep an eye on Jalen Coleman-Lands, who has the ability to knock down a couple of threes, and they can't let Michael Finke take wide open shots from the perimeter either. He's too good and he'll make them every time. Jordan Bohannon may struggle keeping Te'Jon Lucas out of the lane in a man-to-man, so we may see zone from Iowa for a majority of Saturday. If that is the case, they need to make sure to locate shooters and closeout well on them. They can't let them start hot like they did in Champaign, it's a major confidence builder when you see your first few shots fall.
When Fran McCaffery moved Cordell Pemsl to the bench, I agreed with the move. I still do agree with it, but he's been one of the best Hawkeyes over the course of the last five games. He is averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds per game over the last five, but is only playing 18 minutes per game. I believe that number needs to increase. I'd really like to see him play 25-28 minutes on Saturday to see what he can give with increased minutes. He showed that he is fully capable earlier in the year to produce while playing good minutes and I'd like to see the Hawkeyes get back to that. He still leads the Big Ten shooting 62% from the field.
Illinois beat Iowa pretty badly in the first matchup. However, Iowa was playing with a hobbled Peter Jok and a sick Jordan Bohannon. Iowa is a better team at home as opposed to on the road - much like every team in the conference - and is 3-0 in rematch games this year against Purdue, Nebraska, and Rutgers. I think that trend continues on Saturday afternoon against the Illini. The Hawkeyes are rested, they are healthy this go around, and are much better inside Carver Hawkeye Arena. Give me Iowa in the rematch.