Nov. 8, 2009
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By David Meyer
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After facing former University of Iowa player Kevin Gamble’s University of Illinois-Springfield team in a closed scrimmage on Thursday, the 2009-10 Hawkeye men’s basketball team was on display to the public for the first time in an exhibition game against Marian (Ind.) on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes tipped off at 12:35 p.m. and showed the Carver-Hawkeye Arena faithful a decisive victory over the Knights, 76-53.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 10-point lead midway through the first half behind Gatens’ strong shooting. He scored 12 of his 14 points in the opening half. However, Marian managed to hang with Iowa and halved the deficit, going into the break trailing 34-29.
Gatens initiated what would be a theme for his team all afternoon, hitting three, three-pointers in the first half. His teammates followed that lead as Iowa shot threes at a 45-percent clip. The Hawkeyes should be confident shooting the three-ball with that level of accuracy.
“It’s a weapon we use a lot in coach’s system. If you have an open three and you can make it, go ahead and shoot it,” Gatens said. ” It’s big we’re knocking down shots and if we can keep that up, it’s going to be great to see.”
Iowa came out fast in the second half, going on an 18-2 run to build a 20-point lead in only 6:09. The Hawkeyes maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the rest of the contest.
Sophomore Anthony Tucker came off the bench to lead all scorers with 21 points, despite injuring his back in practice earlier in the fall. He hit five three-pointers and headed a 37-point contribution from the Iowa bench.
“I thought he was awfully sore a couple of weeks ago, so I’m glad to see that he’s moving better. That’s exciting,” said UI head coach Todd Lickliter.
Tucker underwent treatment before the game and wants to be back to 100 percent before Iowa opens the regular season next Sunday, Nov. 15, at home against Texas-San Antonio in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic. Tipoff is set for 5:05 p.m.
“Hopefully it’s something that I can get taken care of this next week before our first game,” said Tucker.
Freshman Eric May also gave a strong performance off the bench in his first collegiate action. His multi-faceted game filled up many areas of the stat sheet. He had 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and made a three pointer. May thought the exhibition was a valuable experience.
“It gives us the atmosphere of a real game,” May said. “You get used to all the warm-ups, pregame stuff — you just get into a routine.”
Three-point specialist Bawinkel scored 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting from downtown. He only attempted three-point field goals.
“He’s a star in his role,” Lickliter said. ” He’s not concerned with anything but helping us. It doesn’t surprise me; he’s been a terrific teammate from day one.”
Fuller was another Hawkeye who performed a specific job. He pounded the boards, pulling down a game-leading 15 rebounds to go along with seven points.
“Aaron not only has a knack for rebounding, but he pursues balls and can rebound outside of his area, which is a good talent to have,” said Lickliter.
Payne dished out six assists in his Hawkeye debut at point guard and made his lone field goal attempt, a three-pointer.
Although they rained down trifectas, the Hawkeyes had trouble connecting from the free throw line. Iowa made only 6 of 13 free throws and will look to improve upon the low percentage.
The Hawkeyes know they still have room for improvement, but they got off on the right foot with a win.
“The main thing was we’re all tired of playing against each other in practice all the time,” Tucker said. ” It was nice to see somebody else and be able to go against a different game plan, different schemes.”