IOWA CITY – Iowa and Illinois engaged in a back-and-forth struggle today but Iowa had just enough to survive the Fighting Illini, 81-79, to notch their third-straight win.
The Hawkeyes have won seven of their last nine games, dating back to Jan. 5.
Iowa snapped a five-game losing streak to Illinois with today’s two-point win.
Five of last six meetings between Iowa and Illinois have been decided by five points or fewer.
Tony Perkins netted a game and personal-best 32 points, reaching 15+ points for the eighth time this season. Perkins made 15 consecutive free throws to start the game before missing his final attempt (15-of-16). He tied the school record for most consecutive free throws made in an Iowa single game (Woolridge made 15 straight on March 8, 1997 against Northwestern).
Perkins made 20 straight free throws spanning the last two games; he made his final five attempts against Northwestern on Tuesday.
With the game even 76-76 with under two minutes remaining, Iowa junior Payton Sandfort sank his third triple of the game with 1:23 remaining in the second half to put the Hawkeyes in front to stay. Iowa improved to 8-2 this season when Sandfort makes multiple 3-pointers in a game.
All-America candidate Kris Murray totaled 19 points and grabbed team bests in rebounds (7) and assists (3).
Perkins became the 12th different Hawkeye in the Fran McCaffery era to score 30 points or more.
Iowa won its 12th home game of the season (12-2).
Iowa (7) had seven fewer turnovers than Illinois (14). The Hawkeyes only committed two turnovers in the second half.
Iowa (15-8, 7-5) returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 9, at nationally-ranked Purdue in the only regular season meeting between the two teams. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:01 p.m. (CT) at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.