One at a Time

March 7, 2005

Editor’s Note: Four years ago the Iowa Hawkeyes struck like lightening in the Windy City, collecting four wins in four days to etch the University of Iowa in the Big Ten Conference record book as the first league team to win four straight games in the Big Ten’s post-season party. As Coach Steve Alford’s squad prepares to make another run in the United Center – an admittedly tall task as evidenced by how rare it does occur – offers this look back at the Hawkeyes’ history-making run.

“Can you believe it? Four wins in four days. The Iowa Hawkeyes win the Big Ten Tournament.”

Jim Nantz
CBS Sports
March 11, 2001

Yes. The Iowa Hawkeyes and their fans could believe it.

They had seen, over the first 21 games of the 2000-01 season, the potential of this Iowa team. The Hawkeyes built a 17-4 record to start the season, they were tied for the Big Ten lead with a 6-2 conference mark and were ranked 14th in the nation.

“Can you believe it? Four wins in four days. The Iowa Hawkeyes win the Big Ten Tournament.”
Jim Nantz, CBS Sports

They fought through some injuries, they fought through some tough losses. And, at the end, it was Iowa, the sixth-seeded team coming into the tournament, which stood atop the victory stand. It was the Hawkeyes, cutting down the nets in Chicago’s United Center, after winning the most exciting championship game in the history of the Big Ten Tournament.

In the first round, they struggled for 34 minutes against a scrappy Northwestern team that had beaten the Hawkeyes in the regular season, before pulling away over the final six minutes for a 72-55 win.

Four Hawkeyes scored in double-figures, paced by center Reggie Evans who had 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Glenn Worley chipped in 18 points. Iowa won the game by stifling the Wildcat offense to just 36 percent success from the field.

The first win in the books, three to go.

The next night it was the Buckeyes of Ohio State, who had won earlier in the year in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa struggled in the first half, trailing 33-22 at intermission, before pulling away for a 75-66 win. Trailing by 15 points late in the first half, Iowa’s comeback victory was at that time the largest in tournament history.

Again four Hawkeyes scored in double-figures headed by Worley’s 18 points. Neither team shot particularly well for the game, but the Hawkeye offense scored 53 second-half points – 30 more than it did if the first half – to get the win.

Two games down, two to go.

In the semi-finals, Iowa would take early control in a 94-74 win over Penn State, defeating yet another team that had who had knocked off the Hawkeyes on their home court during the regular season. Iowa led 20-4 after seven minutes and coasted to the win thanks in great measure to the work of Evans, who set a tournament record with 18 rebounds – a total that matched that of the entire Penn State team.

Iowa credited its rebounding advantage – 48-18 – and superior defense – Penn State shot just 37 percent from the field – for the win. Four Hawkeyes again notched double-digits in the scoring column including Evans, who had 30 points to go with his record-setting performance on the glass.

Three W’s, one to go.

It was on to the finals where Coach Steve Alford would face his alma mater, Indiana. In a game that featured 11 ties and seven lead changes, Iowa held on to claim a 63-61 victory as a last-second three-point attempt by the Hoosiers was knocked away by Evans, who would be named the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament.

Brody Boyd was hero for the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s freshman guard scored 22 points – 12 off four three-pointers – grabbed four rebounds, and collected three assists. Dean Oliver, Boyd’s running mate on the perimeter, scored 12 points in 39 minutes of action.

With the championship, Iowa became just the seventh team in college basketball at that time to win a post-season conference tournament by winning four games in four day, and the first Big ten Conference team to accomplish the feat.

“We’re going (to Chicago) to win it.”
UI Coach Steve Alford

“We’re going (to Chicago) to win it,” Alford said in his weekly visit with media Monday when asked about year’s trek to the United Center.

Iowa’s head coach said the first game in Chicago is big for lots of reasons. It has NCAA implications, it gets Iowa to 20 wins for the season, and it gets Iowa to 5-5 since its roster change.

“We also, historically, have done well in the tournament if we get that first one,” said Alford. The Hawkeyes square off against Purdue Thursday afternoon at the United Center.