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Big Ten Tournament 2012: Iowa Holds Off Illinois, 64-61

Iowa won the first game of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament on Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis, defeating Illinois 64-61 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Led by Matt Gatens, who had a game-high 20 points on 7-12 shooting from the field, and Aaron White, who just missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, the Hawkeyes (17-15, 8-10 Big Ten) came back from a 31-27 halftime deficit to take down the Fighting Illini (17-15, 6-12 Big Ten) and keep their hopes of winning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament alive.

Meyers Leonard had 18 points to lead Illinois. D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand added 11 points, respectively, in the losing effort.

Iowa now advances to face No. 1 seed Michigan State at noon on Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Hawkeyes fell 95-61 at the Breslin Center in these teams' only matchup this season on Jan. 10.

For the latest on the Big Ten Tournament, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh, and check out BT Powerhouse, SB Nation's Big Ten basketball blog.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.