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Hawkeyes Upset No. 7 Illinois

Luke Recker and Dean Oliver are quickly proving to be one of the more dangerous backcourts in the Big Ten.

Recker scored a season-high 27 points and Oliver added 16 to lead Iowa to a 78-62 win over seventh-ranked Illinois on Thursday night.

"After he and Dean settled down ... I thought they had big nights," Iowa coach Steve Alford said.

Recker and Oliver combined for 38 points, 10 assists, one steal and only one turnover in the Hawkeyes' conference-opening win at Penn State five days ago.

Both scored seven points against the Illini in the first half before carrying Iowa in the final 20 minutes.

"In the second half, I let the game come to me a little more. I think I was forcing it a little early," Recker said. "I needed to calm down and let the offense come to me."

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  • Illinois' Marcus Griffin said Recker makes the Hawkeyes a much more dangerous team than a year ago when the Illini swept Iowa.

    "He's a great shooter. They do a good job with their offense to make him look good," said Griffin, who finished with eight points. "Last year, they didn't have a go-to guy. Recker can shoot. He can go to the basket."

    Illinois hit just 24 of 63 shots, or 38 percent, from the field, including 7-of-22 from 3-point range. The Illini also sank just seven of 17 free throws while Iowa was 26-for-35.

    "Missing free throws ... coming away with nothing is just like making turnovers," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "It's frustrating when you don't get to the line very often."

    Ryan Hogan finished with 10 points and Reggie Evans had 15 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten), who overcame the Illini's superior size, depth and experience to win their third straight.

    Frank Williams finished with 22 points for Illinois (12-4, 2-1) but got little help. Sergio McClain had nine points for the Illini, as did Cory Bradford, who continued his NCAA record shooting streak by hitting at lest one 3-pointer in his 80th straight game.

    Iowa's reserves, who outscored Penn State 30-4 in an 86-85 victory last Saturday, combined for 25 points to seven for Illinois.

    Except for the first few minutes, the Illini trailed until a 3-point shot by McClain with 15:19 to play gave them a 37-36 edge. The Hawkeyes regained the lead and opened a 51-46 edge on Recker's two free throws before Williams answered with two free throws to cut the lead to 51-48 with 7:48 to play.

    Rod Thompson swished a 3-pointer from the left corner that ignited a 15-4 run for the Hawkeyes to give them a 66-52 lead with 3:31 remaining.

    Recker scored six points during the run, including four free throws and a driving layup in traffic as he led the Hawkeyes in scoring for the ninth time this season.

    Iowa hit 11 of 16 foul shots in the final 3:31 to preserve the win. Recker sank all 10 free throw attempts and was 7-of-14 from the floor, including 3-of-4 3-pointers, as he surpassed his previous best of 26 points against Drake.

    The Hawkeyes were sharp early, twice opening leads of 10 points in the first 20 minutes.

    The Illini had chipped away at a 17-7 deficit before Recker's putback of an Evans miss again opened a 23-13 lead with 4:43 before halftime. Williams' two free throws capped a 6-0 run to pull the Illini to 23-19.

    Consecutive baskets by Williams and Robert Archibald sliced a 28-21 Iowa lead to 28-25 with 25.2 seconds before halftime. The Hawkeyes worked for the last shot, with Oliver nailing a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Iowa a 31-25 lead at the break.

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