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Inside The Hawkeyes

Illinois on Rise Coming into Iowa City

By John Bohnenkamp,


Illini Visit Hawkeyes Saturday Riding Three-Game Win Streak

It took some time for Illinois’ roster to have some cohesion, and Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on Friday that the results are showing up.

The Illini have won seven of their last eight games heading into Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game against the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I think you have to look at them differently than you did last year when they had so many guys back,” McCaffery said. “This is essentially a new team in many ways. It's a very talented team. You know, (Illinois coach Brad Underwood has) done a really good job with them. But they had to figure out how to play together.”

Terrence Shannon Jr., who leads the Illini in scoring at 17.2 points per game, transferred from Texas Tech. Matthew Mayer (11.5 ppg) and Dain Dainja (9.8 ppg) are transfers from Baylor. Jayden Epps (9.8 ppg) is a true freshman.

“It’s not like you’re surprised,” McCaffery said. “I think they’re starting to come together. I think that's what we all hope happens to any team that we coach but in particular when you have some new guys.”

Shannon and Mayer will test Iowa’s defense.

“They both can really score and they're both veteran guys,” McCaffery said. “They don't rattle, they make plays. You know, they miss a couple (shots), they come back and make a couple. They're just aggressive-mindset guys that you have to deal with.”

Saturday’s game is a chance for one of the two teams to keep pace with Big Ten leader Purdue. Illinois (16-6 overall, 7-4 Big Ten, 25 NET) is in a tie with Rutgers for second place, 3 ½ games behind the Boilermakers. Iowa (14-8, 6-5, 33 NET) is one game behind the Illini and Scarlet Knights.

Other notes from Friday:

MORE TIME FOR BOWEN: Freshman guard Dasonte Bowen hasn’t played in the last two games, but McCaffery said he hopes to find minutes for him.

“He’s a professional in that regard,” McCaffery said when asked how Bowen has approached no playing. “I’m really proud of him. He’s practicing well. I’ve got to find some minutes for him. He deserves it. But he is a world-class person, and a really good player. His opportunity is coming.”

OGUNDELE BACK PRACTICING: Center Josh Ogundele, who has been out with a knee injury, practiced for the first time on Thursday.

“He looked pretty good,” McCaffery said. “He’s real close.”

Ogundele has played in nine games this season, averaging 2.1 points per game.

HOPE LODGE: Hope Lodge will be accepting donations on Saturday in the form of non-perishable food items, gas and grocery gift cards, and 13- & 30-gallon garbage bags. Fans can drop off supplies as they enter Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Hope Lodge is located across the west parking lot from the arena. It provides lodging for cancer patients and caregivers traveling to Iowa City for treatments.

“It's a phenomenal thing and we're very fortunate to have one here in Iowa City, especially in proximity to the (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics) where so many of our citizens are getting treated,” McCaffery said. “Obviously, we're expecting a sellout so if we could get some supplies for the Hope Lodge that would be very much appreciated.”

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