LIVE at Big Ten Tournament, Illinois vs. Iowa Pregame

Illini

CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — Less than 24 hours after leaving the United Center — the Illini are back trying to keep their season going. To do it they’ll have to beat an Iowa team that throttled them earlier this season.

The Hawkeyes never trailed in that game in Iowa City — leading by as many as 27 points. It’s still the worst loss point margin wise this season for the orange and blue. So while it may seem like a bad matchup — Iowa comes in losing five out of their last six games — and they’re getting a hungry Illini team.

“We definitely remember that game,” says freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili. “That was our biggest lost points wise, we definitely remember that game, we’ll try and watch some film on them and get ready.”

“I remember every 3 that went in,” says Head Coach Brad Underwood. “I remember the first 10 that all went in, believe me I haven’t forgot that one. They were great, they were terrific that night and we’ve got to make the right adjustments, I hope, and then come out and play again and that’s what this is all about.”

Playing on back-to-back days is something the Illini have only done once this season. They actually took the floor three straight days in Maui — nearly beating Gonzaga the first day, before coming out flat against Iowa State the next. Underwood says they learned from that and are changing their approach to try and prevent a slow start tonight.

“You know we’ve got to do a little better job of keeping them focused, keeping them dialed in,” says Underwood. “They’re a little more mature and know how to handle a scouting report and we’re more comfortable with our stuff and what we’re doing so they know we can make a tweak or two and it’s no big deal. In November it was a big deal.”

Iowa is a 4.5-point favorite going into the game. Tip-off is scheduled for about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14th at the United Center. 

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