Fuller Comes Up Big

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Jan. 12, 2010

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — A men’s college basketball team that needed a win, got a win Tuesday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but it sure didn’t come easy.

Coach Todd Lickliter’s Iowa Hawkeyes had to scratch and claw and scratch some more to get win No. 6 in 2009-10, a 67-62 win over a very quick and exceptionally athletic Tennessee State squad out of the Ohio Valley Conference. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak to Big Ten Conference opponents for the Hawkeyes.

The difference in the game – the Hawkeyes’ final non-conference date of the year – was Iowa sophomore forward Aaron Fuller, who scored a career-high 24 points and matched his career best with nine rebounds. Fuller’s night included 10 straight points – which sparked a 14-2 Iowa run – during the first half when Iowa was trying its best to deal with the Lions’ full-court pressure and its quickness to the ball.

“It was really good to get this win. We need the momentum going into Saturday’s game with Penn State,” said Fuller, a 6-foot-6 southpaw from Mesa, Ariz.

“We were sluggish early, but we pushed through it. I think we played pretty good defense, particularly in the last five minutes. We just need to play that way for a full 40.”

Matt Gatens added 12 points and Cully Payne 11 for the Hawkeyes, who won the game at the line where they sank 12 of 17 attempts. Iowa shot 50 percent from the field and won the battle of the boards, 32-28.

The Hawkeyes were also credited with 16 assists, five from Gatens and four from both Payne and Eric May.

“I thought we had good play from a number of guys, but Aaron had a nice night that included two plays down the stretch that helped us to ice the game. As a team, we needed to play with a greater sense of urgency. We are too casual at times and were tonight early,” said Lickliter.

Tennessee State was paced by Josh Sain’s game-high 19 points. Darius Cox added 11 points and Robert Covington eight rebounds for the Lions, who fell to 4-14 overall.

The game’s outcome wasn’t decided until the final minutes when Payne knocked down a three and added a pair of free throws to give Iowa a 65-60 lead entering the final minute. Gatens kept the margin at five when he added a pair from the charity stripe with 24 ticks remaining on the clock.

The game’s first half included a technical foul called on Lickliter when Iowa’s head coach voiced his displeasure on a no-call after Gatens was hammered hard.

“I just thought there was a foul. I at least have to ask and bring it to their attention,” said Iowa’s head coach.

Iowa will look to notch its first Big Ten Conference victory of the season Saturday when the Hawkeyes entertain Penn State. Tipoff is set for shortly after noon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.