Days before they're set to battle at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City this weekend, the Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini are already jousting with one another.
The Orange Krush, a longstanding group of Illinois supporters and fans, said its purchase of 200 tickets for Saturday's matchup between Iowa and Illinois was canceled by Iowa's athletic department on Wednesday. That decision will cost the group more than $6,000 it can't recoup because it's too late to cancel its charter buses and other travel arrangements. The group accused Iowa's brass of being "fearful" of its presence on Saturday.
But Iowa officials have pushed back on that claim and accused the Orange Krush of being deceptive. Per a statement from the school sent to ESPN, the Orange Krush purchased its tickets with a discount rate after claiming the tickets were for a Boys & Girls Club chapter in Illinois.
The school said it will subsequently donate tickets for Saturday's game to a local Boys & Girls Club chapter in Iowa.
"The Iowa Athletics Department became aware of a discounted group ticket order for the Iowa-Illinois men's basketball game on behalf of an Illinois chapter of the Boys & Girls Club," Iowa said in a statement. "In following up with that organization, it became clear this was not factual. When contacting the individual who made the original ticket order, they admitted to falsely ordering tickets under the non-profit organization. Iowa Athletics has refunded the original ticket order and donated tickets to the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids. We look forward to welcoming these kids to a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena this Saturday."
The Orange Krush, a nonprofit organization, also released a statement on Wednesday that said its tickets were "legally purchased."
"It is highly unfortunate for our group that this trip has been canceled because we were looking forward to it since receiving the tickets in the mail in October," the statement said. "It is highly unfortunate for the 150 students that collectively fundraised a total of $2,649.41 for local charitable organizations in order to be invited on this trip. Most of all, it is highly unfortunate that the University of Iowa and their athletic department refused to face the consequences of the mistake they made in selling tickets to a billing address in Champaign, Illinois."
Illinois has an 89-76 edge over Iowa in a series that began in 1908. Illinois and Iowa have split the past 10 matchups (5-5).
Iowa star Kris Murray (20.6 points per game) has helped the Hawkeyes finish 6-2 in their past eight games. And with Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr. (17.2 points) leading the way, Illinois is 7-1 in its past eight games.