ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It was a career day for two Iowa juniors as guard Tony Freeman and forward Cyrus Tate had an answer for everything Michigan did Saturday, allowing the Hawkeyes to pull out a 68-60 victory over the Wolverines inside Crisler Arena.
Iowa made 10 of its final 12 free throws down the stretch to secure its first Big Ten Conference road victory of the season. The Hawkeyes improved to 9-10 overall, 2-4 in the league. Michigan is now 5-13, 1-5.
After getting two quick free throws from Tate, Michigan’s Jevohn Shepherd made the next seven points as the Wolverines jumped out to a 9-2 lead. Iowa’s senior center, Seth Gorney, hit a layup and a long jumper to make it 9-6 with 15:08 to go.
The Hawkeyes trailed for most of the half but made it close with solid play down low from Gorney and Tate, who combined to score Iowa’s first 11 points. Tate muscled his way to the free throw line three times in the half, making 5 of 6. The duo’s aggressiveness also allowed them to pull down several rebounds as Tate had five to Gorney’s seven, with four of them on the offensive glass. Gorney finished with 12 boards as Tate pulled in 11.
The Hawkeye guards could not find an early rhythm between senior Justin Johnson, freshman Jake Kelly, and Freeman. They were cold from behind the arc until Freeman nailed a three with 7:09 left in the first half. Before that make, they were 0-of-6 from downtown. Johnson had only three points at halftime and Kelly was scoreless.
Freeman caught fire late when he rained in two more from downtown as the Hawkeyes tied the game at 27-27 with 1:36 left. With 31 seconds to go, Tate hit a layup to take a 29-27 lead as Iowa went on an 8-0 run to end the half.
Iowa’s late fire helped them go 10 of 26 (38 percent) from the field and 4 of 13 (31 percent) from three point range. Michigan shot a little better going 11 of 25 (44 percent) from the floor and 4 of 9 (44 percent) from behind the arc. Tate’s free throws provided the difference as he made 5 of 6 as the Wolverines only went to the line twice, making one.
Iowa showed no struggles going into the final half as Tate and Freeman continued their strong play and combined for the first four points. The Hawkeyes went on a 12-3 run and took a 41-30 lead with 11:59 to play.
Freeman continued to nail three’s as he hit two in a row and another one a few minutes later as Iowa saw its lead grow to 52-36 with 5:39 left. The Hawkeyes continued to have a strong presence on defense as the Wolverines struggled to score or get any second chances as Iowa pounced on the ball quickly.
“I thought we defended with pretty good purpose,” Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter said. “I thought the three guys — Kurt (Looby), Seth (Gorney), and Cyrus (Tate) — have been playing well and it is a good rotation. They have a good understanding with it.”
“Coach tells us that we should play as a unit,” Tate said. “With all five guys we have to help each other out.”
Hawkeye freshman guard Jeff Peterson played a big role off the bench as he did a good job feeding the ball around to different teammates. He finished with nine assists and just two turnovers.
Michigan made it exciting late when they hit a flurry of three’s. DeShawn Sims hit one of his five three’s with 1:57 left as the Wolverines trailed 56-50. Freeman hit a pair of free throws before fouling Michigan’s Manny Harris, who drilled one from long range and hit a free throw to make it 58-54. The Wolverines Kelvin Grady hit one from behind the arc followed by another Sims three. The Hawkeyes led only 63-60, but that would be as close as Michigan would come as Iowa won by eight.
“We tried to give it away there at the end,” Lickliter said. “Give them credit, they shot the ball and we fouled on one of them. The other thing is we didn’t secure rebounds but we built enough of a lead that we were playing a little cautiously and trying to contain them and keep them out. During the stretch of the second half when we moved the ball and shot good shots, we are capable.”
“You have to stay poised,” Tate said. “You have to play as a team, we stepped up and I think we did a great job of that.”
Tate and Freeman had career games as Freeman had a game high and career high with 28 points and he also had a career high in hitting six from long range. He finished 8 of 14 from the floor and 6 of 11 from three-point range. Tate also had career highs with 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting and 11 rebounds.
“Freeman was outstanding and Tate was outstanding,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “We didn’t have an answer for either of them.”
“I think every game is a big game,” Lickliter said. “You need to play the game the right way, with the right kind of intensity, purpose and focus. That is what my expectations are. After Ohio State we responded, I sure hope we can respond with a positive after a win now and prepare well. There are not any easy ones in the Big Ten.”
“We came out with a tough loss to Purdue,” Tate said. “Everybody feels like we should have won that game. I think we responded well, we all came together and supported each other.”
Iowa shot lights out in the second half as they finished 23 of 47 (49 percent) from the floor and 7 of 19 (37 percent) from three point range. The difference-maker was the free throws as Iowa had 10 more than Michigan. The Hawkeyes went 15 of 24 (63 percent) from the charity stripe to the Wolverines 5 of 8 (63 percent).
Another key factor was rebounding , as Iowa won the battle 35 to 26. The Hawkeyes also outscored Michigan 30 to 14 in the paint.
Iowa travels to Indiana on Wednesday with an 8:05 p.m. tip-off against the Hoosiers.