Dec. 21, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team celebrated Christmas a few days early Monday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, racing to a 82-69 victory over South Carolina State in the team’s final tune-up before opening Big Ten Conference action in a little more than a week.
Iowa used a balanced attack – both in numbers and location – to roll over the Bulldogs en route to win No. 5 in 2009-10 and its second in three days. Iowa defeated the Drake Bulldogs 71-67 Saturday evening in Carver. The loss was just the third of the season for South Carolina State against six wins.
For the fourth straight game, Matt Gatens paced the Hawkeyes’ scoring attack. The Iowa City native scored a game-high 20 points and added eight assists and five rebounds in yet another strong outing for the sophomore guard.
“Shots are starting to fall and it feels good,” Gatens said after his 39-minute performance.
“It’s also big to see guys like Cole and May and Fuller have great games. We need to have lots of guys involved if we’re going to be successful.”
Jarryd Cole – who made eight of 10 field goal attempts – added 19, Eric May a career-high 18 and Aaron Fuller 12 in Iowa’s best offensive output since scoring 80 in its victory over Prairie View A&M on Dec. 5. The Hawkeyes shot 57 percent from the field for the game, a mark that was boosted by Iowa’s near 60 percent during the second half.
The Hawkeyes scored 43 of their points from inside the paint, added 13 on second chances, and made seven of 20 three-point attempts. Iowa also won the battle of the boards, 29-26, dished out 16 assists and turned the ball over a mere 10 times.
SCSU was led by Jason Flagler, who had 14 points. Darnell Porter and Arsenio Williams each had 11.
Iowa used an 11-0 run midway during the first half to blow open a two-point ball game and begin the coast to the finish line. Cole’s free throw with gave Iowa a 35-24 lead that grew to 46-30 at intermission. The Hawkeyes had three players in double-digits at intermission: Gatens with 14, May with 12 and Cole with 10.
Iowa shot a very respectable 54 percent during the first 20 minutes. The home team also claimed a 17-14 margin on the boards and, most importantly, cherished each possession, as evidenced by being whistled for only four turnovers.
The Hawkeyes now have an eight-day break to celebrate the Christmas holiday and prepare for their 2010 Big Ten Conference opener, a Dec. 29 date with nationally ranked Purdue inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That game tips shortly after 6 p.m. Iowa time.