Live from Iowa-Illinois: Ekey breaks Iowa's heart

Published: March 8 2014 | 6:17 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:19 am in

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Illinois forward Jon Ekey drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing with 00.3 seconds left to lift the Illini to a 66-63 win over Iowa on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

After Iowa tied the game on a Gabe Olaseni putback with 41.4 seconds left, the Illini milked the clock down to 13.1 seconds left when Mike Gesell was called for a foul. That gave Illinois one shot without the shot slock.

After moving the ball around, Ekey knocked down the shot. Officials checked the monitor and moved the time up to .5 seconds. Zach McCabe's inbound pass was picked off by Tracy Abrahms.

Illinois improves to 18-13, 7-11 in the Big Ten. Iowa is 20-11, 9-9 in the Big Ten. It's the fifth loss in six games for the Hawkeyes.

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Welcome to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the final time this year. The Hawkeyes are closing out the regular season against longtime border rival Illinois at 7:30 p.m. (BTN).

The Hawkeyes (20-11, 9-8 Big Ten) are wearing white uniforms tonight, while the Illini (17-13, 6-11) are wearing blue. The Hawkeyes are 9-0 when wearing white this year.

Tonight the Hawkeyes celebrate their seniors, and four of which will play their final home game: Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe and Darius Stokes. Stokes, a former walk-on who was placed on scholarship this season, does have a year of eligibility remaining.

The teams previously played at State Farm Center (formerly known as Assembly Hall), and the Hawkeyes prevailed 81-74. It was Iowa's first win in Champaign since 1999 and only the second since 1987. Iowa led 34-13 midway through the first half, but the Illini rallied to take a 66-61 win midway through the second half.

Officials are Mike Kitts, Lamont Simpson and Chris Beaver. Josh Lewin and Jim Jackson are the announcers for BTN.

It is Iowa's 11th sellout this season.

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Marble, the leading scorer in Big Ten-only games averaging 18.9 points, now ranks sixth in Iowa scoring with 1,654 points. He moved past Matt Gatens at Michigan State on Thursday. He 22 points shy of passing Ronnie Lester for fifth. With 52 points, Marble moves past B.J. Armstrong. Hes only 12 points from moving past Greg Stokes and Acie Earl into second place.

Basabe is tied with Kenny Arnold for 30th with 1,112 points. He could pass Arnold, Michael Payne and Chris Kingsbury into 28th with seven points. McCabe has scored 852 points as a Hawkeye. When he steps on the court, he will become the school's all-time leader in game splayed.

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The Big Ten Tournament pairings are still in flux but there's a way to navigate through them. Michigan is the top seed. If Wisconsin beats Nebraska or if Ohio State beats Michigan State, the Badgers claim the second spot and Michigan State is third. If Wisconsin loses to Nebraska and Michigan State beats Ohio State, the Spartans are second.

If Nebraska beats Wisconsin on Sunday night, the Cornhuskers are seeded fourth. If Nebraska loses and Iowa wins, the Hawkeyes are seeded fourth. If both Nebraska and Iowa lose, and Ohio State beats Michigan State, the Buckeyes are seeded fourth. If all three lose, Nebraska is fourth.

Minnesota holds the tiebreaker against Indiana for the seventh seed based on the Gophers' win on Feb. 8.

Illinois and Penn State currently are tied for ninth and one game behind Indiana and Minnesota.

Northwestern and Purdue are tied for last and play one another Sunday. The lost clinches the 12th seed. There are plenty of scenarios among the bottom six seeds should they finished tied.

The Big Ten Tournament begins March 13 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

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Iowa rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to take a 34-29 halftime lead against Illinois.

The Illini scored on eight of its first 10 possessions and knocked down eight of their first 12 shots to lead 20-6 with 13:48 left in the first half.

Iowa climbed back in the game on its next possession when Zach McCabe drilled a 3-pointer. Josh Oglesby grabbed a steal, which led to a Melsahn Basabe basket and cut Iowa's deficit to 20-11.

Iowa scored on three of its next five possessions, starting with a Devyn Marble runner in the lane. Basabe putback a Mike Gesell miss and then Aaron White drilled an open 3-pointer to complete a 12-0 run and cut Illinois' lead to 20-18.

Illinois' Tracy Abrahms ended the run with a free throw, but White followed with three free throws on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 21-21. A Gesell jumper gave the Hawkeyes their first lead at 23-21.

The Hawkeyes finished the half with an inbound pass from Gesell to Basabe, who scored with no time left to put Iowa up 34-29.

The 17-1 run shifted momentum and ignited the sellout crowd. It was Iowa's 11th sellout this season.

White led the Hawkeyes with nine points. Nnanna Egwu scored nine for the Illini. Illinois had five turnovers and seven assists. Iowa had four turnovers and eight assists.


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