Feb. 28, 2010
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by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A 13-0 run early in the first half and a physical defense helped propel Iowa the rest of the way in manhandling Indiana, 73-57, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday night.
In a game featuring 55 fouls, the Hawkeyes (4-12 Big Ten, 10-19 overall) polished off the Hoosiers (3-13, 9-19) early with strong defense and timely shooting for the victory in their home finale. Indiana made it interesting late, but could not overcome a 20-point deficit.
“This team is disappointed like I am with the record, but I am not disappointed in them,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “I have enjoyed coaching them, they practice correctly, they work hard and I really like the foundation that they’re laying.”
The Hawkeyes went aggressive to the hole early feeding the ball to Jarryd Cole who drew two fouls on layup attempts and gave Iowa a 4-0 advantage. The Hoosiers tied the score before Aaron Fuller gave Iowa two three-point plays when he was fouled on layups.
Iowa continued to give it to Fuller who had nine consecutive points before Matt Gatens drained two baskets for a 13-0 run and a 17-4 advantage. The Hawkeyes defense was on lockdown, only allowing four points in the first 10-minutes.
Bobby Copobianco drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to get Indiana some confidence on offense and went on an 11-2 run to close the gap at 19-15. Eric May and Gatens stopped the bleeding with one from long range and a two-point basket from just inside the 3-point line to give Iowa a comfortable 26-17 lead. Iowa walked into the locker room with a 32-23 lead. Iowa forced 11 Indiana turnovers in the half.
The Hoosiers opened the second half hitting a layup and a jumper to trail 32-27, but Iowa quickly made up the difference and more regaining a 10-point lead after two free throws from the hands of Fuller.
Iowa’s defense continued to force Indiana to play sloppy on offense. Gatens went to the line and made one-of-two free throws with his second rattling out before Cole grabbed the rebound and hit a layup for a commanding 45-30 lead with 12:24 remaining.
“It felt really good to give a spark to this team. It put us up by 20 and kind of finished up the game. You can’t think you are going to miss the next one and I was always told `shoot to get hot and shoot to stay hot’. You just have to keep firing until they tell you not to.”
Both teams racked up the fouls finishing the game with a combined 55. Indiana had more fouls (31) than made shots (19).
The Hawkeyes continued to push their lead after May assisted Gatens for a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc. A few possessions later he hit another 3-pointer and Iowa could sense a series sweep on the horizon with a 20-point lead intact.
“I thought he (Gatens) had a couple good looks early and he was shooting really well today in shoot-around,” Lickliter said.
“I was encouraged and we went to him early. He is the kind of guy that always thinks he is going to make the next one and that he should because he is a good shooter. He gets in the gym and he works at it. He stays after every practice and I am very comfortable with him shooting it. I am the same way – I always think he is going to make the next one.”
“It felt really good to give a spark to this team,” Gatens said. “It put us up by 20 and kind of finished up the game. You can’t think you are going to miss the next one and I was always told `shoot to get hot and shoot to stay hot’. You just have to keep firing until they tell you not to.”
Iowa slowed down their tempo, but not for long after the Hoosiers started to knock down shots late and Verdell Jones III hit two free throws to trim the Hawkeyes lead to 11-points with 1:38 remaining. That was as close as they would get during the comeback attempt.
The Hawkeyes did not have their best outside game, but shot 22 of 48 (46 percent) from the field to make up for it. They finished 3 of 17 (18 percent) from long range and 26 of 38 (68 percent) from the free throw line. The difference came from points off turnovers where Iowa forced 20 turnovers that led to 23 points.
“I thought we got to most of the loose balls, we were active, we were in tune and we were helping one another,” Lickliter said. “It wasn’t perfect – we shot it from behind-the-arc very poorly in the first half, but still had a lead because of the defensive effort and we went to the glass and did the things you have to do to win games when the shots aren’t falling.”
Gatens led the scoring attack with 25 points, Fuller had 17 and Payne added 13 points. Fuller also pulled down 8 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes will head to Madison on Wednesday to take on Wisconsin with a 7:35 p.m. tipoff inside the Kohl Center.