IOWA CITY, Iowa — Aaron White remembers how Iowa limped down the stretch last season. The senior doesn't want to let it happen again.
White scored a career-high 29 points — including 14 straight during a key stretch in the second half to give the Hawkeyes the lead — in a 68-60 win over Illinois on Wednesday.
Iowa (18-10, 9-6 Big Ten) has won three straight games heading into March.
"I had this weird feeling before the game that something special was going to happen tonight," White said. "I was just in the zone."
Rayvonte Rice scored 20 points to lead Illinois (17-11, 7-8), which made only one field goal in the final five minutes. Ahmad Starks matched a career high with 19 points on five 3-pointers.
White hit a career-best three 3-pointers, made 10 of 12 free throws and grabbed nine rebounds.
The forward scored 20 points in the second half — including all of Iowa's points during a 5½-minute stretch. White made four straight shots and four free throws to flip the game's momentum.
"It was huge," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "It gave us a little bit of separation."
Wednesday's result had significant postseason implications for two teams fighting in the middle of the standings in the rugged Big Ten.
Iowa rebounded from tough losses against Minnesota and at Northwestern with three straight wins. The Hawkeyes are 1Â½ games out, with three remaining, from a double-bye in the new Big Ten tournament format.
Illinois is falling in the other direction. The Illini dropped their third game in a row and missed an opportunity for a quality road win to improve their NCAA tournament chances.
Illinois shot only 25 percent in the second half and lost despite shooting 15 of 16 from the foul line. The Illini scored 14 points off turnovers in the first half and none in the second.
"We weren't very smart tonight," Illinois coach Jon Groce said. "We did not execute very well."
Jarrod Uthoff added six points and 10 rebounds for the Hawkeyes.
Illinois guards Kendrick Nunn and Malcom Hill were held to a combined nine points on 4-of-21 shooting.
The Hawkeyes ended the first half on a 7-2 run to lead 33-32 at halftime. Iowa struggled offensively most of the first half, making only one field goal during a nine-minute span that put Illinois ahead.
McCaffery lauded the game's atmosphere and fans who trekked to Carver-Hawkeye Arena despite slippery road conditions from a winter storm. A small, but loud contingent of Illinois' Orange Krush student section even made the 240-mile trip from Champaign.
Illinois point guard Jaylon Tate did not play due to an illness. Tate had started the last 12 games for the Illini.
Illinois: The Illini had won four of their last five games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, including a 66-63 win on a buzzer-beater last year.
Iowa: White surpassed B.J. Armstrong for fourth on Iowa's all-time scoring with an alley-oop dunk late in the first half.
Illinois hosts Northwestern on Saturday.
Iowa travels to Penn State on Saturday.