Iowa sinks Buccaneers in season-opener

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Nov. 14, 2008

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by Neal Wiebers

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Todd Lickliter’s second campaign at the University of Iowa started successfully, with a 68-48 win over Charleston Southern on Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Matt Gatens, Anthony Tucker, and Aaron Fuller all made their Hawkeye debuts as starters, and the newcomers did not disappoint.

The Buccaneers started hot, racing to a seven-point lead to begin the game. Freshmen sensations Gatens and Tucker turned that around quickly, combining to score the first 15 points for the Hawkeyes. Iowa rode that momentum to push their first-half lead to 11 points. Charleston Southern kept the game competitive, however, rallying to close the Iowa lead to four points at the end of the first half, 29-25.

The Hawks opened the second half with a 16-5 run, capped with a crowd-pleasing dunk by Kirkwood transfer Jermain Davis, who also made his debut Friday evening. Not to be out-done, senior forward Cyrus Tate added his own crowd-pleaser. His thunderous breakaway dunk and ensuing free throw with just over 7 minutes left in the game pushed the Hawkeyes’ lead to 19. Iowa’s largest lead in the game was 23.

Gatens led the Hawkeyes with 15 points, all of which he scored in the first half. That is the most scored by an Iowa freshman since Jeff Horner scored 15 in his debut in 2002. Gatens was joined in double figures by Jake Kelly and Anthony Tucker, who each scored 10. Also chipping in were starters Cyrus Tate and Jeff Peterson, who scored nine points each. Tate also led the Hawks with 12 rebounds.

Postgame, Lickliter stated that he was mostly pleased with how his team played. He enjoyed his team’s ability to “contain and stay in position” defensively. On the offensive end, Lickliter liked how well his team was able to find each other. He also was quick to mention how well his bench played. “When you win by 20 points, and your bench scores 21, well, that says something.”

Injury concerns were also a popular postgame topic. Sophomore forward and team captain Jarryd Cole played 10 minutes, his first live game action since tearing his ACL late last year. Lickliter was quick to dismiss further concerns with Cole, and said that he would continue to ease him in his transition. Lickliter also spoke about sophomore Jake Kelly, who suffered a broken finger on his shooting hand just two weeks ago. “We didn’t know until yesterday if he’d play. If I would’ve known he would’ve played this well, I would’ve broken his finger earlier,” joked Lickliter.

Iowa (1-0) will play Texas-San Antonio on Monday night. Tipoff is slated at 7:05 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.