(1) Illinois 75

(27-0, 13-0 Big Ten)

Iowa 65

(16-9, 4-8 Big Ten)

    12:06 PM ET, February 19, 2005

    Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa

    1 2 T
    #1ILL 36 3975
    IOWA 28 3765

    Top Performers

    Illinois: D. Williams 18 Pts, 1 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl

    Iowa: A. Haluska 20 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    Williams, Brown score 18 each

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- The challenges for Illinois started early, from the moment the Illini got out of bed.

    "We had no hot water this morning at the hotel," coach Bruce Weber said. "That was brutal."

    It didn't get any easier after that.

    Top-ranked Illinois had to overcome foul problems, a determined opponent and a subpar game by leading scorer Luther Head to remain unbeaten with a 75-65 victory over Iowa on Saturday.

    Deron Williams and Dee Brown each scored 18 points for the Illini (27-0, 13-0 Big Ten), who turned back repeated threats from the short-handed Hawkeyes.

    "Stuff like this happens all year," Williams said. "It seems like every game, somebody steps up and does something at the right time."

    The Illini had plenty of that happen Saturday. James Augustine came up with 13 points and eight rebounds, Head made a key steal late in the game and 7-foot-2 Nick Smith hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to preserve a victory that kept several streaks intact.

    The Illini are off to their best start ever, have won 23 straight conference games and now have 14 consecutive road victories. They would clinch the Big Ten championship by winning their next two games, at home against Northwestern and Purdue.

    Illinois finishes the regular season at Ohio State on March 6. No team has gone unbeaten in Big Ten play since Indiana in 1976.

    "If we take care of business at home, now we can clinch the outright title, then go see what happens at Ohio State," Weber said. "But that's a long way off. Right now, we're worried about the bus ride home and Northwestern."

    A gritty effort wasn't quite enough for Iowa (16-9, 4-8), which fell to 1-4 since leading scorer Pierre Pierce was kicked off the team. The Hawkeyes, lost in overtime at Illinois earlier in the season, trailed by just two points with 4½ minutes to play before a 14-5 run finished them off.

    Every Illinois starter had at least three fouls and forward Roger Powell had four, which limited him to eight points after he had made all 10 of his shots against Penn State in the previous game. The Illini were outrebounded 36-21, Head shot 1-for-7 while scoring only seven points and they still got it done.

    "Good team, good players -- they find a way to make plays," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "They don't feel the pressure. I think they're as good as anyone in the country."

    Adam Haluska led Iowa with 20 points, while Greg Brunner had 15 and Jeff Horner 12.

    "We weren't coming in here just to be close," Horner said. "I thought that we had a chance to win there. We just couldn't make a play down the stretch."

    Roughly 3,500 orange-clad Illinois fans swelled the crowd to a sellout, just the second for Iowa this season. Both sides had plenty to cheer during the intense game, one team battling to stay perfect, the other trying to keep its fading NCAA tournament hopes alive.

    Trailing by 12 early in the second half, Iowa kept clawing and got within two points three times, the last at 60-58 on Mike Henderson's two free throws with 4:34 left.

    Then, as they have done all season when threatened, the Illini responded.

    Smith made two free throws, Williams hit a 10-footer and the ultra-quick Brown scored on a breakaway after Head knocked away an inbounds pass to make it 66-58. After Horner drained a 3-pointer, Brown answered with a deep 3 of his own.

    When Smith drained a fadeaway 3 from the right corner -- his second of the season -- with 51 seconds to play, the Illini were up 72-63 and -- finally -- out of danger.

    "James was wide open underneath and I was kind of disappointed (Smith) didn't pass," Weber said. "But it went in and kind of broke their backs."

    Iowa slowed Illinois for much of the first half with solid defense, starting out in man-to-man, switching to zone and then back to man. The Illini often had to go deep into the 35-second clock before getting a shot and once were forced into a violation.

    But after Horner passed out of a double team to Erek Hansen for a wide-open dunk to tie the score at 20, Powell made two free throws, Williams followed with a jumper and the Illini never trailed again.

    Williams high-arcing shot in the lane with 3 seconds left gave Illinois a 36-28 halftime lead and he started the second half with two jumpers to make it 40-28.

    The Illini then went more than 5 minutes without a field goal and Iowa responded with a 10-1 run, drawing to 41-38 on Horner's 3 from the top of the key.

    The pattern never changed after that: Iowa threatened and Illinois answered.

    "We're going to keep coming at teams," Brown said. "If our shots aren't falling, we're going to keep shooting and making plays."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 75 65
    FG Made-Attempted 26-54 (.481) 20-43 (.465)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-15 (.333) 4-11 (.364)
    FT Made-Attempted 18-23 (.783) 21-26 (.808)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 12 4

    2004-05 Season

    Jan 20, 2005 @ILL 73, IOWA 68Recap
    » Feb 19, 2005 ILL 75, @IOWA 65Recap