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What We Learned: Iowa Hawkeyes 96, Illinois Fighting Illini 87

What can we take from Iowa’s victory over Illinois?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Iowa vs Illinois Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Tournament from Madison Square Garden kicked off this evening with a matchup between the 12th-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes and 13th-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini.

Iowa jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first 10 minutes of the game, before Illinois responded and cut it to a four-point deficit at halftime. Illinois would get within two in the second half, but the Hawkeyes regrouped and closed out the Fighting Illini 96-87. Jordan Bohannon led Iowa with 25 points, while Kipper Nichols exploded for Illinois for 31 points. With the victory, Iowa will play Michigan tomorrow afternoon.

Let’s take a look at what we can learn from this evening’s game.

What We Learned

Offensive Rebounding Killed Illinois Again

In the first meeting between Illinois and Iowa, the Hawkeyes pounded the Illini on the boards 45-26. 17 of those rebounds came on the offensive end.

Tonight not much changed.

The Hawkeyes outrebounded the Illini 40-20, with 12 coming on the offensive end. Couple those extra possessions with 56 percent shooting from the field and the Hawkeyes lit up the Illini for 61 points in the second half.

Iowa almost gave up the advantage by committing 10 more turnovers and playing virtually no defense themselves, but in the end, the frontcourt play combined with Bohannon was too much for the Illini to handle.

More on the talented Iowa guard below.

Jordan Bohannon Has Something Going

It has been an up-and-down last eight games for Bohannon. Some games, like February 3rd against Penn State, and February 22nd against Minnesota, Bohannon has blended into the game and not been aggressive as a scorer. As the second leading scorer for the Hawkeyes, Iowa plays its best basketball when Bohannon is assertive on the offensive end.

The past two games have been that version of Bohannon.

In the regular season finale, Bohannon scored 25 points on seven three-pointers and 50 percent shooting. He matched that scoring tonight with 25 points on 60 percent shooting. Iowa is 7-5 this season when Bohannon shoots over 50 percent from the field.

If Iowa has any chance on Thursday against Michigan then Bohannon will need to be assertive and shooting well. The past two games have been a great sign.

Kipper Nichols Played His Best Game At Illinois

Nichols has shown flashes all season of breakout play. The sophomore has doubled his scoring average from last season and turned in a 27-point performance against Michigan State on January 22nd.

The 6-foot-6 forward turned up his game to new levels with a 31-point performance this evening on 10-18 shooting, including 5-9 from three.

It is a great confidence builder for Nichols heading into the off-season. The soon-to-be upperclassmen will look to build off this performance towards more consistency in his starting role next season.

Overall

Iowa was again too much for Illinois this evening. The Hawkeyes used their superior frontcourt and inspired play from Jordan Bohannon to outscore Illinois and defeat the Illini for the second time on the season.

For Illinois, a long off-season lies ahead. Coach Brad Underwood will look to build towards better consistency and defense for the next season.

Iowa moves on to play a red-hot Michigan squad Thursday afternoon.