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No. 1 Illinois overcomes poor shooting, improves to 19-0

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois started the game intent on
giving James Augustine and Roger Powell Jr. a chance to attack Iowa
inside. When the big guys couldn't put it in the basket, Luther Head took over.

Head scored 25 points and his driving layup with 40 seconds
remaining in overtime sealed No. 1 Illinois' 73-68 win over Iowa on
Thursday night.

"I'm really tired. I can't wait to go home," Head said. He
certainly earned some rest.

Head scored 12 straight points during one stretch and had six
steals and six rebounds as Illinois (19-0, 5-0 Big Ten) overcame
its worst shooting night of the season and a late comeback by Iowa (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP).

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. Illinois managed just six free
throws and Head's layup in overtime.

"I thought our defense was outstanding, but in the overtime
they made six free throws and we made one," Iowa coach Steve
Alford said. "It really came down to the foul line."

Illinois was 23-of-31 from the free-throw line while Iowa was
just 6-of-12, and the Illini won the battle of the boards,
especially on the offensive end where they held an 18-9 advantage.

"They killed us on the boards tonight," said Pierre Pierce who
played all 45 minutes and led the Hawkeyes with 22 points. "They
had a lot of tip-ins at crucial points in the game and we couldn't
finish at the free-throw line."

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.

With Deron Williams in foul trouble, Head also drew the
defensive assignment on Pierce in the second half. Pierce scored 12
points over Head, but he missed a 3-pointer that would have tied
the game with 5.6 seconds left in overtime.

The Hawkeyes finished the game without center Erek Hansen and
guard Adam Haluska, both of whom fouled out.

"I couldn't take Pierre off the floor," Alford said. "I just
didn't feel comfortable taking our best player off the floor."

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.

"Maybe we needed a game like this to get a little jolt of
energy," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.

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 responded.

The Hawkeyes reeled off 10 straight points and went on an 18-5
run, tying the game 52-52 on 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.

"We fought back and we had them and they came through in the
end and showed why they are No. 1," Pierce said.

Brown was the only other Illini player to score in
double-figures with 12. Augustine and Powell were a combined
3-for-21 from the floor, but they had more success from the
free-throw line and wound up with nine points each. They also
combined for 13 rebounds.

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