Despite being a 31.5-point underdog at Iowa on Thursday night, Eastern Illinois secured a 92-83 win for the biggest upset by point spread in modern times.
The Panthers — a mediocre team from the mid-major Ohio Valley Conference — not only stunned the Hawkeyes, but they did so in Iowa City, where home state fans were visibly dissatisfied with their school’s efforts. Chad Leistikowa columnist for the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen, reported on Twitter that an angry Hawkeyes supporter confronted the Iowa group during a timeout before being led away by security.
It is still unclear whether a gambler scored a big payday with the upset. Caesars Sportsbook – one of several with a 31.5 point spread for the game – did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for more information.
Eastern Illinois coach Marty Simmons gets an impromptu shower after the historic upset
Incredibly, Iowa in 60th had an early 18-4 lead and the Big Ten school looked set for an easy win. Instead, the 350th-ranked Panthers pulled away from the Hawkeyes in the final moments of the game, as point guard Kinyon Hodges finished with 22 points.
“We chipped,” Eastern Illinois coach Marty Simmons told reporters afterwards. “I think it was a real blessing for us to go into half time eight behind. I think our guys felt they had a chance if they played well in the second half.’
With Iowa coming in as a 31 1/2 point favorite, the upset turned out to be the largest point spread in modern times, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Cale Donaldson finished with 16 points and hit 5 of 6 from the floor in the second half for the Panthers (4-9). Eastern Illinois shot 72.4 percent from the floor after halftime as it defeated the Hawkeyes 55-38 after trailing 45-37 at the break.
Yaakema Rose Jr. scored 13 points and six assists for Eastern Illinois, who shot 60 percent from the field for the night.
Eastern Illinois security guard Caleb Donaldson and forward Jermaine Hamlin, 34, celebrate after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday
Eastern Illinois head coach Marty Simmons reacts during an NCAA University basketball game against Iowa on Wednesday
Eastern Illinois center Kyle Thomas (24) celebrates as Iowa forward Filip Rebraca (0) and Iowa guard Ahron Ulis (1)
Filip Rebraca scored 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and added eight rebounds for the Hawkeyes (8-4). Iowa has been alternating losses and wins 5-0 since the start of the season.
“It should stick around so it never happens again,” Rebraca said afterwards, as quoted by Leistikow. “We should always use it as motivation. We understand what happened tonight. So when we come back from intermission, we have to understand that this can never happen again.’
Payton Sandfort contributed 18 points, but only shot 5 of 14 for the Hawkeyes. Tony Perkins amassed 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Patrick McCaffery added 12 points and 13 rebounds, six on the offensive end.
Iowa led 47–39 after Rebraca’s layup a few minutes into the second half, but the Panthers scored seven consecutive points, the last four coming off of a pair of Hodges dunks.
Minutes later, Rose picked up a 3-pointer to give Eastern Illinois a 51–50 lead with 14:32 left in the game. It was their first lead since the first minute of the game.
Iowa forward Filip Rebraca (0) defends as guard Yaakema Rose Jr. (4) from Eastern Illinois
Iowa guard Tony Perkins, left, fouls Eastern Illinois guard Kinyon Hodges as Iowa guard Ahron Ulis (1) looks on
Iowa forward Filip Rebraca (0) shoots a basket against Eastern Illinois center Kyle Thomas (24)
Two free throws from Sandfort restored Iowa’s one-run lead, but Rose hit a jumper and Jermaine Hamlin scored on a dunk to give the Panthers a three-point lead, and they were never behind again.
Hodges scored six straight points, all on dunks, as Eastern Illinois broke away from a 55–55 tie to hold a six-point lead with 9:59 left in the game. The Hawkeyes only came close to five after that and trailed by 14 in the final three minutes.
The game was pushed back 4 1/2 hours due to a bad weather forecast.
“I thought we were a little tired,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after the loss, referring to the impact of injury for veterans Kris Murray and Connor McCaffery. “We could have used Connor’s toughness, his experienced leadership and, of course, another experienced body.”
But the Hawkeyes Coach made no excuses.
“We had enough healthy people,” Fran McCaffery said. “I thought we would have played better today.”
The game was pushed back 4 1/2 hours due to a bad weather forecast. “I thought we were a little tired,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery (pictured) said after the loss