Finke Leads Illini Men Past Hawkeyes

January 26, 2017
 
Illini Te'Jon Lucas drives to the basket as teammate Malcolm Hill (21) looks on.

Illini Te'Jon Lucas drives to the basket between two Iowa Hawkeyes as teammate Malcolm Hill (21) looks on.

Rob McColley / for Illinois Public Media

Michael Finke scored a game-high 17 points to help the Illini men break a three-game losing skid, winning 76-64 over the Iowa Hawkeyes last night in Champaign.

Finke connected on 7 of 10 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 three-pointers. He said he maintains an even keel regardless of whether his shot is falling.

Michael Finke converts a reverse layup against Iowa Wednesday night in Champaign while teammate Kipper Nichols (2) watches.

Photo Credit: Rob McColley / for Illinois Public Media

"I really try not to think about that as much," Finke said.  "Just keep shooting it. I always say 'shooters shoot,' and that's what you've got to keep doing, whether you're making or missing."

Three other Illini scored in double-figures, and all ten who participated garnered at least ten minutes of floor time. Neither D.J Williams nor Aaron Jordan saw action.

Sophomores Nicholas Baer and Ahmad Wagner each scored a dozen for Iowa, which starts four freshman. Preseason All-Big Ten wing Peter Jok — the Hawkeyes' lone senior starter — was held to ten points, including 1-of-5 from the arc. Jok was defended for much of the game by fellow preseason selection Malcolm Hill.

Hill's effort caught Illini coach John Groce's eye.

"His efficiency on the offensive end, his three assists, his two steals, his six rebounds," Groce said, "and the amount of energy and effort he exerted on the defensive end guarding Peter Jok, I thought was tremendous.

Freshman Te'Jon Lucas earned his first career start for Illinois. He collected six assists and six points, plus two steals and two rebounds in 27 minutes. The crowd  of 11,787 booed audibly each time Groce substituted another player for Lucas.

Both teams are now in a five-way tie for 9th place in the Big Ten, with a conference record of 3-5. Illinois improves to 13-8 overall. Iowa drops to 11-10 on the year.

Illinois will complete the first half of the conference schedule on Saturday at Penn State.

Story source: WILL