CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The rivalry between Illinois and Iowa is heating up.
“Basically, they want to kill us, and we want to kill them,” the Illini’s Ayo Dosunmu said.
Dosunmu scored 17 points to lead No. 23 Illinois past No. 18 Iowa 78-76 on Sunday, securing the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament for the Illini.
“I mean, there’s a respect factor, but on the court it’s pure hate,” Dosunmu added. “We just don’t like each other.”
Andres Feliz scored 14 points, Kofi Cockburn had 12 and Kipper Nichols added 10 for Illinois (21-10, 13-7 Big Ten).
Luka Garza scored 28 points for Iowa (20-11, 11-9), which finished in a four-way tie for fifth in the Big Ten and will be the No. 5 seed in the tournament. Joe Toussaint scored 14 and Connor McCaffery added 10.
Illinois coach Brad Underwood can’t help but notice the growing intensity between the teams.
“I mean, we don’t condone this whole hate thing,” he said. “I think that’s just the guys on the court. But overall, rivalries are awesome. They are great for sports and college basketball. The players love it, and the fans love it.”
Illinois built a 17-point lead late in the game, using a 12-2 run to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. But that lead evaporated to two points in the final seconds and it took Cockburn blocking a shot by Garza under the basket at the buzzer to seal the win.