Jan. 2, 2010
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by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Minnesota’s offense was unstoppable and their defense was impenetrable as they cruised past the Iowa Hawkeyes 86-74 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday.
Iowa (5-9 overall, 0-2 Big 10) was haunted by turnovers all game with 24 that led to 45 points for the Gophers for the difference maker. Iowa shot 26 of 58 (45 percent) from the field, 11 of 26 (42 percent) from deep, and 11 of 16 (69 percent) from the charity stripe. The Hawkeyes were led by Matt Gatens with 14 points, Eric May had 13, and Aaron Fuller added 10 points. Gatens also added nine rebounds and three assists for Iowa.
“It wasn’t our day,” UI Head Coach Todd Lickliter said. “As I told our guys, I have seen some great teams, great individuals and great champions get knocked down and we are not the first and won’t be the last. It is how you respond to things and we have played the number two team and number four team in the nation and played them tough. Today we did not play tough and that is disappointing and unacceptable.”
Several Iowa turnovers and sharp-shooting from the Gophers gave Minnesota (11-3, 2-0) a commanding 23-7 advantage with 13:37 remaining in the first half. Tough man-to-man full-court defense forced nine early miscues from the Hawkeyes and the Gophers took full advantage jumping out to a large lead.
The Hawkeyes slowed down the pace and Devan Bawinkel hit two consecutive three-pointers to inch their way back into the game 25-13 . After the Hawkeyes made their way back into the game they resorted back to turning the ball over and Minnesota continued to torch Iowa on the offensive end going on an 11-1 run to lead 35-14. May looked to get Iowa back in the game with a layup before he stole the ball, faked a three-pointer and dunked the ball to give the Hawkeyes some momentum despite the deep hole they faced.
The Hawkeyes went on a 12-4 run to end the half with two long range jumpers from the hands of Bawinkel and Gatens. May capped off the run with a reverse dunk that got the crowd back on its feet. The Gophers walked into halftime with a 49-32 lead. The Hawkeyes had 18 turnovers that led to 31 Minnesota points in the half.
“We needed to stop turning the ball over and giving them those points off of the turnovers,” said John Lickliter who had a career-high nine points. “They are really long and athletic and I think they knew that we had small point guards, so they were going to run and jump us. They created turnovers and that is where most of their points came from. We can’t do that, we have to get better.”
The Hawkeyes opened up the second half and Jarryd Cole quickly hit an off-balanced layup on their first possession to trim the Gopher lead to 15. Unrelenting Minnesota pressure continued to force mistakes by the Hawkeyes, but Iowa made some adjustments on defense to contain the Gophers offensive attack.
“I have always thought our guys are very capable of making plays, but once we got anxious we started doing things that aren’t going to work with things that you know you wouldn’t do if you didn’t get rattled. We got rattled and we got anxious.”
The Gophers again took a 20 point lead before Gatens hit a deep three-pointer to trail 61-44 before Minnesota answered right back with one of their own from Devoh Joseph.
May hit from deep range as the shot clock was about to expire, but Minnesota’s Damian Johnson responded with a long two-point jumper and Blake Hoffarber drained a three-pointer their next possession to all but seal the game leading 73-49 with 9:24 remaining in the game. The Hawkeyes made a late run, but Minnesota was already in the driver’s seat for the victory.
“You’re not going to win like that,” Lickliter said. “I have always thought our guys are very capable of making plays, but once we got anxious we started doing things that aren’t going to work with things that you know you wouldn’t do if you didn’t get rattled. We got rattled and we got anxious.”
“We know we have to correct things that are keeping us from winning,” John Lickliter said. “We need to have two solid halfs.”
The Hawkeyes will head to Champaign, Ill., to take on Illinois on Tuesday with an 8:05 p.m. tipoff.