The 2011-2012 Illinois Fighting Illini saw their season end in a fitting way this afternoon in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament: with a whimper of a loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes, the type of defeat that has become routine for the Illini over the last few seasons of the Bruce Weber era. That era may be over now. The Hawkeyes defeated Illinois 64-61 on Thursday to improve to 17-15 overall, 9-10 in the Big Ten and advance to the next round of the conference tournament. Unless they receive a bid to the NIT, Illinois will end the season 17-15, 6-12.
The Illini had no answer for Matt Gatens, Iowa's senior guard. Gatens went 7-of-12 from the field to finish with 20 points and three rebounds to key the victory for the Hawkeyes. Forward Aaron White added 13 points and nine rebounds int the win.
If this is the final college game for Meyers Leonard, at least it was a good one. The Illini's sophomore center went 9-of-11 from the field to finish with 18 points and six rebounds. Guards D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand each scored 11 for Illinois in the loss.
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