No. 1 Illinois survives OT brush with Iowa

Friday, January 21, 2005

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Luther Head scored 25 points, including a driving layup with 40 seconds remaining in overtime that sealed No. 1 Illinois' 73-68 win over No. 23 Iowa on Thursday night.

Head also grabbed six rebounds and had six steals as Illinois (19-0, 5-0 Big Ten) overcame its worst shooting night of the season and a late Iowa comeback. The Hawkeyes (13-4, 1-3) battled back from a 13-point deficit early in the second half and outscored Illinois 7-1 in the final 1:06 to force the extra period.

Greg Brunner's drive to the hoop tied the score at 65-65 with 3.8 seconds remaining and came after Dee Brown missed one of two free throws for the Illini. Brunner finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Illini hit only 33 percent from the field, going 22-for-67 and 6-of-28 from 3-point range. Only Head had anything resembling a good night from the floor, hitting 8-of-18.

But the Illini did control the glass, especially on the offensive end where they held an 18-9 advantage.

Illinois led 34-25 at halftime and appeared to be ready to blow the Hawkeyes out after Head's 3-pointer made the score 47-34 with 14:41 to go. Head waved to encourage the crowd after the basket, but it was Iowa that got responded.

The Hawkeyes reeled off 10 straight points and went on an 18-4 run, tying the game 52-52 on Erek Hansen's jumper with 9:16 to go.

But Head quickly dropped a 3-pointer and the Illini were ahead until Brunner's layup tied the score.

Brown was the only other Illini player to score in double-figures with 12. Big men James Augustine and Roger Powell Jr. were dreadful from the floor, going a combined 3-for-21.

They had more success from the free-throw line and wound up with nine points each.

Pierre Pierce led Iowa with 22 points, but missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 5.6 seconds left in overtime. The Hawkeyes also finished the game without Hansen and guard Adam Haluska, both of whom fouled out.

Illinois played much of the second half with either Brown or backcourt-mate Deron Williams on the bench in foul trouble, leaving Head to carry much of the offensive load. But Brown and Williams were on the floor at the end, with Brown's two free throws providing Illinois' final points.

Illinois' strategy early was to get the ball inside to Augustine and Powell. But their cold shooting forced the Illini to change strategy and Head started hitting from the outside.

With the score tied 14-14, Head hit a 3-pointer touching off a run of 12 straight points from the junior from Chicago. Jack Ingram's 3-pointer finished off a 15-4 run that gave the Illini a 29-18 lead with 3 minutes left in the half.

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