Nov. 21, 2009
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by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Anthony Tucker talked about how dangerous the University of Iowa basketball team could be when they found their stroke after losing to Duquesne on Tuesday. On Friday night they discovered the missing piece and walloped all over Bowling Green, 68-46, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa knew they had a stout in-your-face defense, but in the first two games, both losses, they could not find the range and struggled offensively. The missing piece was solved after the Hawkeyes shot 24 of 51 (47 percent) from the field, 12 of 25 (48 percent) from three-point range and 8 of 12 (67 percent) from the charity stripe.
“I thought for the most part we defended again,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “This is the third time in a row that we have guarded. The difference is that this time we were able to make shots. This is a very unselfish team.”
Eric May paced the Hawkeyes with 16 points and hit 5 of 7 shots from the floor and was a perfect 4 of 4 from deep. Tucker and Matt Gatens both scored in double-figures with 13 and 14 points a piece. Tucker also added nine assists and Brennan Cougill added eight points and eight rebounds.
“It feels good to finally get a win,” Tucker said. “It feels like things are starting to come together offensively. Hopefully we are on our way up and I think we are in a good spot right now and I hope we continue to get better.”
“I don’t think it is anything magical,” May said. “We feel comfortable, we got each other open and we are getting good shots.
The Hawkeyes (1-2 overall) found themselves down in the early goings of the game 7-3, but exploded for a 16-2 run for a 17-9 advantage with 9:50 to go in the first half. The Hawkeyes defense clamped down to force bad shots and sloppy passes from the Falcons (1-2 overall) during the outburst.
Iowa continued to knock down shots with trifectas from May and Gatens with 3:21 remaining that pushed the Hawkeyes to a 28-13 lead.
The Hawkeyes were bound and determined to score on their final possession of the half. Tucker looked to shoot close to the top of the arc and instead fired down low to Cougill who was already in mid-air and quickly released the short jumper and swished it to walk into the locker room with a commanding 33-20 lead.
The second half could not have started any better when Iowa passed it down low to Cole for a layup and then went to the other end to give the Falcons problems. Bowling Green could not get any looks to the basket as the shot clock expired.
Another Cole basket and Tucker trey gave the Hawkeyes a 40-20 lead as the Falcons still looked to get on the board in the second half with 17:13 remaining and called a timeout.
Otis Polk finally put a shot in after a tip from a missed attempt to give the Falcons their first points almost four-minutes into the second half.
Iowa continued to dominate the game, eclipsing a 51-28 lead after a fastbreak assist from Tucker to Cougill. With a big first half lead, all the Hawkeyes had to do in the second half was coast and get the freshman more adjusted and comfortable to the offensive and defensive schemes.
The Falcons showed their frustration from an inability to score and received a technical foul on the bench with 5:43 remaining. For the technical free throws, the Hawkeyes put one of the best free throw shooters in the Big Ten Conference at the line in Gatens who took advantage, drilling both of them. Bowling Green fouled May on the inbounds and he made 1-of-2 for a 59-39 lead.
May and Tucker hit back-to-back from downtown to close out the game. The Hawkeyes defense has yet to allow more than 50 points this season.
“It is nice for the guys (to get a win),” Lickliter said. “They have worked hard, they are good guys and they care. Last game, they fought back and they (Duquesne) made a really tough shot. It didn’t affect them tonight. They came back out and went about the game plan and worked. This is a group that is going to continue to get better every time we play.”
The Hawkeyes will travel to Kansas City, MO for a tough road test in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic against the University of Texas with an 8:45 p.m. tipoff. “We feel a lot more comfortable and we are ready to go,” May said. “You don’t want to go in there 0-3. You don’t want to be thinking about the last few games. So we are ready to move forward.”