'MAD' Moments: March 1988

July 23, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was written by Steve Carlson and first appeared in the March 21, 1988 edition of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

LOS ANGELES – Nevada-Las Vegas came to make peace. Iowa came to make havoc. Havoc and the Hawkeyes won 104-86.

The Runnin’ Rebels (28-6) now will go back to Las Vegas to try to find peace, while Iowa (24-9) presses on to a return trip to Seattle for the NCAA West Regional semifinal game. The Hawkeyes will play former Iowa Coach Lute Olson’s Arizona Wildcats Friday in the Kingdome. It will be a rematch of the Dec. 12 game in Iowa City, which Arizona won 66-59.

Sunday’s tournament second-round game at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion was also a rematch. UNLV was the team that fought back from a 16-point halftime deficit to beat Iowa 84-81 in the West Regional final last March at the Kingdome.

This time Iowa held a big halftime lead, but increased it in the second half instead of watching it slip away. Iowa’s pressing defense posed problems for the Rebels and prevented a repeat performance.

UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian was hoping Gerald Paddio – a Rebel without a pause when it comes to 3-point bombing – would hit a couple of shots early to make the Hawks concentrate on getting back on defense and abandon the press.

“Our hope was that Gerald would come out blazing and (Iowa) would call the press off,” Tarkanian said. “We wanted to make peace with the press. It didn’t work.”

Paddio was made of bricks at the start of the game – he missed three trey tries in the first two minutes – and the Iowa press was chewing up the Rebels’ freshmen guards. UNLV had 9 turnovers in the first 10 minutes.

Tarkanian seemed to be joking Saturday when he said UNLV would be delighted to get the ball in-bounds, then the Rebels’ next goal would be to get the ball across midcourt and if they could get it in the basket that would be beautiful. Those words turned out to be prophetic, not facetious.

UNLV committed 23 turnovers. Only Stanford and California-Irvine had more turnovers against Iowa this season. Sixteen of the Rebels’ turnovers were forced by Iowa’s pressure.

“I think their press had a demoralizing effect on us,” Tarkanian said.

Hawkeye Coach Tom Davis was impressed with Iowa’s press. He was not surprised the Rebels struggled because they started freshman guards in Karl James and Stacey Augmon. James played the point, but Tarkanian pointed out he is a true shooting guard playing out of position out of necessity.

“I don’t think there’s any question Jerry’s got inexperienced guards,” Davis said. “He’s got new kids in that backcourt, and we’re a tough team to play with young guards.”

“We knew that was going to be a big point, because they have those young guys out there,” Iowa guard B.J. Armstrong said. “Coach Davis really stressed that today in walk-through practice – to go out and get them, and get them hard.”

While Iowa had its go-getters working the press, it also had center Ed Horton to go to inside once it got the ball back on offense, Horton had a career-high 24 points – sharing Iowa scoring honors with Jeff Moe, who also had 24 – and a team-high 9 rebounds.

“I do agree that I came out and had my best game of my career tonight. I was just pumped up and ready to go at the start of the game. I got the opening tip and I had it going the whole 40 minutes.”
Ed Horton

Davis called it the best game of Horton’s career and commended Horton’s desire for the ball, defensive work and rebounding.

“I do agree that I came out and had my best game of my career tonight,” Horton said. “I was just pumped up and ready to go at the start of the game. I got the opening tip and I had it going the whole 40 minutes.”

“Eddie showed signs of this all year in practice,” Armstrong said. “It was just his day.

“Eddie had a chance to work one-on-one and do what he does best. He’s so quick in there. He’s really only touched the surface of what he can do.”

Horton had 14 points at halftime and also helped cripple UNLV’s inside game.

Rebel senior forward Jarvis Basnight, the team’s second-leading scorer (14.4 points per game) and leading rebounder (6.9), played just nine minutes in the first half. He picked up his third foul when he backed Horton at 10:05. That sent Basnight to the bench for the remainder of the half, and he got Horton again at 13:39 of the second half for his fifth foul and was gone for good.

“That hurt,” Tarkanian said.

Basnight finished with 2 points and 6 rebounds.

The Rebels did not figure it was finished at halftime when they trailed 51-39 – and who could blame them after last year?

But Iowa buried those memories with a 20-6 spurt at the start of the second half for a 26-point lead with 13:22 remaining, and UNLV never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.

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“We never let up throughout the whole game,” Moe said.

It was Iowa’s 15th 100-point game, breaking a school record of 14 set in 1970. It was also the worst deficit for a Tarkanian-coached UNLV team in 25 NCAA tournament games.

Through much of it, Tarkanian just stood on the sidelines with his hands clamped to his head, looking as if he were trying to keep his bald orb from splitting open.

Or perhaps he was protecting it. Iowa, after all, had not come to make peace. It had come for a scalp.