WCIA — It was a sloppy game for the Illini against Iowa on Saturday, falling to the Hawkeyes 81-79 while committing 22 fouls.

All the mistakes Illinois seemed like it grew out of came back. As disappointing as the result was, freshman Jayden Epps has begun taking on more of a leadership role since being put into the starting lineup. Which will be very important for how the Illini will fair to the end of the season.

“He’s got great emotion, he’s very stoic, nothing rattles him and boy, do you like that from a leader,” Brad Underwood said. “He’s getting very comfortable calling actions, calling plays. My trust in him is growing minute-by-minute.”

“A few weeks ago, Coach Underwood just threw me out there, trusting in me,” Epps said. “I appreciate him for that, for trusting me and throwing me out there. I feel like that’s the best way to get experience and get good at playing my position.”

Illinois welcomes Minnesota for a return date after beating the Gophers in Minneapolis earlier this season. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.