Feb. 23, 2010
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The last time the University of Iowa and Northwestern played in men’s basketball, the Hawkeyes shot 50 percent from the field, took a 13-point lead into halftime and won going away, 78-65.
That was nearly two weeks ago. Since then, Iowa (9-18 overall, 3-11 Big Ten Conference) dropped a game on the road at Purdue and suffered a heart-breaking 80-78 overtime setback to Michigan at home. The loss to the Wolverines has lingered since Feb. 16 — the last time the Hawkeyes played a game.
“All losses are hard, that one was painful,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said at a gathering of media Tuesday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Our guys did a great job being up five with 22 seconds to go. It hurts for them, but there’s not a lot we can do about it. Our guys are good at being able to focus on the task at hand and it’s going to serve them well some day, because they’re controlling the things they can control. There’s nothing we can do about the last loss, but they can take care of today and they’ve done a good job of doing that.”
Said lone UI senior Devan Bawinkel: “It was extremely hard. Normally you can bounce back with a game real quick, then it’s past. Since we haven’t played in over a week, it’s all you think about.”
Iowa finishes the regular season with three of its final four games on the road, beginning with Northwestern on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:05 p.m. in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats are 17-10, 6-9, and despite playing well in defeat at Wisconsin on Sunday, have dropped three of their last four.
“We’ll probably have to play a lot better up there (than in the first meeting),” Lickliter said. “Our transition defense has to be as solid as it was, our offensive rebounding has to be as good as it was, we shot it so well. We’ll need to do that again, too. It will be a tough game at Northwestern; they’re a really a good team. Then we’re home Sunday (against Indiana) and then right back on the road for two more in the same week. In the long run, maybe it will make us tougher and be beneficial, that’s the way you have to look at it, but I think it has been difficult. I’m hoping that these days off have been good for us. It’s been well-deserved.”
After having an eight-day break following the game against Michigan, the Hawkeyes conclude the regular season with four games in 11 days. The Big Ten Tournament begins Thursday, March 11.
“It’s been really interesting schedule-wise; a lot of challenges this year in a lot of ways and these guys have responded great,” Lickliter said. “It’s been a tough, tough year in a lot of ways, but not in the way this team’s approached competition and getting better. They’re terrific and they’ve been a lot of fun to coach.”
For UI sophomore Aaron Fuller, the recent break from competition allowed the team to “regroup, get healthy and refocus.” It also gave the Hawkeyes an opportunity to try to solve Northwestern’s press and zone defense.
“We just have to come out and try to get a W,” Fuller said.
In 14 conference games this season, Fuller is eighth in the league in scoring (11.9 points per game) and leads all Big Ten players with an average of 8.4 rebounds per game.
When the Hawkeyes and Northwestern meet, it will be the 2,500th men’s baskeball game played by the University of Iowa.
When the Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to play Indiana, it will be Senior Night, or more specifically, Devan Bawinkel Night. Bawinkel is the only senior on the squad.
“It’s going to be a little weird out there being the only one,” Bawinkel said. “At the same time, it also makes me feel old. I look at it as good memories. I’m completely happy and at peace with my decision to come here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Iowa and the Hoosiers play Sunday evening, Feb. 28, with a 5:05 tip.