The Iowa Hawkeyes rallied from a 13-point second half deficit at top ranked Illinois to force overtime, but the Illini escaped with a 68-63 win in Big Ten Conference action. Pierre Pierce led Iowa with 22-points, Greg Brunner had 16-points, 11-rebounds and his driving shot with four seconds remaining sent the game to overtime. Iowa coach Steve Alford says he thought his guys “gave a big-time effort, and that’s the effort we got to bottle.” Alford says that’s the effort they’ve been giving for all but about one game this year. He says they played well defensively in holding Illinois to 32-percent shooting. But he says the disparity at the free-throw line where Illinois shot 31 free throws to his team’s 12, was a hard stat to overcome. Adam Haluska added 12-points as the Hawkeyes battle back when the Illini threatened to run away. He says you don’t many opportunities to play the number one team in the nation, but they gave it a good effort. The Hawks will need to bounce back in a hurry as they host Purdue on Saturday afternoon. Haluska says they weren’t coming in to get a moral victory, they were coming in to win and they’re disappointed. The Hawkeyes are 13-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten but the conference schedule becomes more favorable the next couple of weeks.
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