Dec. 2, 2009
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By David Meyer
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team battled back from a 10-point deficit to grab a 54-53 lead with 6 minutes, 27 seconds remaining, only to fall to Virginia Tech, 70-64, on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Hawkeye sophomore Anthony Tucker led all scorers with 24 points, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range. As a team, Iowa (2-5 overall) made 12 of 27 from behind the arc.
“He can shoot it, and this was a breakout game for him,” said UI point guard Cully Payne.
The Hawkeyes got off to a hot start behind Tucker, going up 11-3, three minutes and 17 seconds into the contest after Brennan Cougill followed Tuckers’ example with a trey of his own.
The Hokies evened score at 15 with 12:44 remaining in the first half, but the Iowa regained a five-point lead following a Tucker lay-up and a Bawinkel triple.
Virginia Tech proceeded to go on a 10-0 run to go up 25-20. Seth Greenberg’s squad extended that advantage to 10 points with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
Tucker hit consecutive threes on the next two possessions and the Hawkeyes headed into the break with a single-digit deficit, 34-28.
As the second half opened, Iowa slowly and steadily trimmed the Hokie lead.
The Hawkeyes went on top, 54-53, when a feed to the post resulted in a Jarryd Cole lay-up with 6:27 remaining in the game.
However, Virginia Tech then scored seven unanswered points as Iowa struggled to execute offensively.
“I thought there were times when we were too patient and kind of passive,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “Other times, we kept attacking, and probing, and looking, and we’d find somebody in there. I think those are lessons you have to learn.”
After struggling from 3-point land in previous games, Iowa shot at a 44-percent clip from beyond the arc against the Hokies. Twenty-seven of the Hawkeyes’ 49 field goal attempts were threes.
“We want to strike that balance where we can score from the arc, and then throw it inside, and get to the line. We only shot 10 free throws,” said Lickliter.
Virginia Tech drew fouls by pushing the ball inside. The Hokies outscored Iowa 38 to 18 in the paint. Virginia Tech scored 16 points off turnovers, leading to 10 fast-break points. The Hawkeyes scored a mere two points off turnovers, with no fast-break points.
“We can’t have stretches where we don’t score and we let them get some easy ones in transition to get down,” said Tucker. “We were taking some tough shots, contested threes, letting the shot clock get down and not getting great looks.”
With Iowa down five, 66-61, Payne misfired from the top of the key resulting in a long rebound. The loose ball was fought for near mid-court before Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen came away with it and assisted Terrell Bell on fast break slam dunk.
Tucker hit a long 3 to pull the Hawkeyes to 68-64 with 10.4 seconds remaining.
“I’m not into moral victories,” Lickliter said. “I want to win. We had them down one late, but we just couldn’t get a couple back-to-back plays.”
Iowa was on from the outside, converting 12 of 37 times on 3-point attempts (44.4 percent). The Hawkeyes made 22 of 49 total field goals (44.9 percent).
Cole scored 10 points with five rebounds and Gatens contributed seven assists, six points and six rebounds. Iowa handed out 19 assists out of 22 made shots from the floor.
Virginia Tech improved to 5-1 on the season.
Iowa stays in the familiar confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena to face Prairie View A&M in its next contest on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 3:05 p.m.