Iowa was invited to a pow-wow on Tuesday night in Champaign. The meeting turned ugly as Chief Illiniwek inspired his followers and Iowa had little ammunition to answer the assault.
Pierre Pierce will become a great player at Iowa. However, on Tuesday night he was 'schooled' by the best guard in the Big Ten. Frank Williams, Big Ten MVP, lived up to his press clippings and more. His passing performance was spectacular to say the least.
Williams controlled the game and orchestrated the Illini offense like a maestro. He did everything so well that he almost got a triple double. Frank had 16 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals, including several spectacular passes.
"He was awesome," Illinois coach Bill Self said of Williams. "I don't think there are very many people in America who can dominate the game without shooting the basketball. And that's what he does."
Iowa trailed almost the entire first half. A rally at the end of the half highlighted by Pierre Pierce's 25 foot three pointer pulled the Hawks within five points, 36-31.
Glen Worley drew first blood in the second half with a three, pulling Iowa within two, 36-34.
However, at that point you could have stuck a fork in the Hawks as they were done. Not only were they fully cooked on offense their defensive meat was falling off their bones.
Big Ten leading scorer, Luke Recker led the Hawks with 16 points. He was obviously slowed by the hip flexor injury that kept him out of practice all last week. Luke couldn't keep up on defense and stuggled on offense, hitting on 5 out of 13 shots.
Reggie Evans, the other half of the two headed team, was ganged up on inside as Iowa has failed to come up with an adequate pivot player. Evans had 12 points and six rebounds, well off his average of 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Where do the Hawks go from here? Their lack of mental toughness was evident in the second half. "In the second half, they really showed how tough they were," Iowa Coach Steve Alford said. "I think in the second half we did a very poor job defensively. We missed a ton of assignments. We got outrebounded. They got 17 assists and we got seven."
Iowa travels to Northwestern on Saturday, where they will have revenge after losing there last year 69-61. A lot of rest will be needed before then to heal the wounds suffered last night. Coach Alford must somehow induce some mental toughness to help his struggling Big Ten team.
What Iowa team will show up in Evanston?