KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out and helped No. 2 Texas erase a 7-point halftime deficit to beat No. 18 Iowa 68-59 Tuesday night in the championship game of the Guardians Classic.
The Hawkeyes (3-1) took a 47-39 lead on Carlton Reed’s basket with 12 minutes left and then Aldridge picked up his third foul, making things look even bleaker for the Longhorns (4-0).
But the 6-foot-10 Aldridge got a quick basket and Texas went on a 13-4 run and took a 52-51 lead on a 3-pointer by Brad Buckman.
It was the first lead for Texas since 19-17 and quieted the solidly pro-Iowa crowd that had been chanting, “Let’s go, Hawks, let’s go Hawks.”
“I told our guys that if we’re going to be a good team, we’ve got to find a way to win when we’re not playing well,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes. “We did that tonight.”
Buckman rebounded an Iowa miss and Kenton Paulino scored for the Longhorns to extend the lead to three.
Jeff Horner’s basket put Iowa briefly back on top 55-54 before Aldridge got a huge dunk off a fast break and then added a follow shot and Buckman completed a three-point play.
Aldridge fouled out and Greg Brunner made one free throw to cut the Texas lead to 61-56 with 1:50 left.
Point guard Daniel Gibson had 16 points for the Longhorns.
Adam Haluska had 15 points at halftime for Iowa and finished with 23, one shy of his career-high.
Doug Thomas came off the bench and was 6-for-6 for 12 points for the Hawkeyes
The experienced Hawkeyes, who returned five starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s 21-12 team, led by as many as nine in the first half before settling for a seven-point halftime advantage.
Aldridge, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds in the 76-75 semifinal victory over West Virginia and blocked the potential winning shot, was named the tournament’s MVP.
The Longhorns, who outrebounded their first three opponents 90-48, were outrebounded 22-12 in the first half by the shorter Hawkeyes and wound up on the short end of a 41-31 rebound total.
Iowa missed 19 of 24 3-point attempts.
Haluska scored 15 of Iowa’s 31 points in the first half as the Hawkeyes took a 31-24 lead into the break.