IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Adam Haluska left little doubt Monday night that he’s Iowa’s leader.
Haluska, just one of two Hawkeye seniors, scored 29 points, tying a career best, and handed out six assists as Iowa coasted to a 75-53 victory over The Citadel in the Hawkeyes’ season opener.
“There’s no reason for him not to have some big nights with as potent as he is and for a team that really looks to him,” said Iowa coach Steve Alford.
But for a team as young and inexperienced as Iowa, it was the timing of Haluska’s baskets and his leadership that proved pivotal.
The Hawkeyes (1-0) jumped out to an early lead, only to let it slip away thanks to a string of bad passes and turnovers by his younger teammates.
After the Bulldogs (1-2) went ahead on a 3-pointer by Chris Diasparra at the 10:34 mark, Haluska took control, hitting three 3-pointers in a little more than two minutes. His flurry ignited a 27-6 run over the next 10 minutes to put Iowa ahead 42-22 at the half.
“The guys are looking at me at times, and if I’m not playing hard then obviously, hopefully, they don’t follow my lead,” said Haluska, who was 8-of-16 shooting, including six 3-pointers. “But I have to be the example. I have got to lead on the floor, off the floor.”
The Hawkeyes put the game out of reach early in the second half, holding the Bulldogs scoreless through the first six minutes and maintaining leads as big as 29 points.
Iowa shot 49.1 percent and hit 9-of-24 3-pointers en route to its 19th straight win in Carver Hawkeye Arena, the nation’s third longest home winning streak.
Iowa also got 13 points from Cyrus Tate, a junior college transfer and one of several fresh faces on the Hawkeye roster this season. Seth Gorney chipped in 10 points, while Kurt Looby grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
It was a long, frustrating game for the Bulldogs, playing for the third time in four days.
Vytautas Valiulis led The Citadel with 15 points, a career high, on 5-of-9 shooting. Jonathan Brick had 11 points and J’Mel Everhart grabbed 12 rebounds.
But as a team, the Bulldogs shot just 33.9 percent, hit 27.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc and were out-rebounded 40-33.
“We found out an awful lot about our team, and it goes hand-in-hand with what I think about scheduling,” said first-year coach Ed Conroy, whose team was beaten by Michigan State Sunday 73-41.
“People think I’m crazy for playing this schedule. But I think from where we’re at as a program we need to play the best and find out what we can about our team,” Conroy said
The Hawkeyes return only two starters from a team that won the Big Ten Tournament a year ago, and it showed in the early minutes.
After hitting their first four shots, the Hawkeyes got careless. A string of bad passes, poor shoots and turnovers by sophomore point guard Tony Freeman and junior college transfer Justin Johnson helped the Bulldogs get back in the game.
Overall, the Hawkeyes committed 14 turnovers, had the ball stolen eight times and looked out of sync on offense at times.
“I didn’t know what to expect tonight,” Alford said. “There’s going to be some growing pains. But if they just keep listening and fighting and working together and playing unselfishly, it’s going to be a fun team to watch.”