Aug. 4, 2010
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Editor’s Note: The following was written by Pat Harty and first appeared in the March 12, 1999 edition of the Iowa City Press Citizen.
DENVER–Iowa men’s basketball coach Tom Davis kept his unbeaten streak alive in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with the Hawkeyes’ 77-64 victory over Alabama-Birmingham Thursday at McNichols Arena.
And because of that, Davis will get to keep his job for at least one more game.
The Hawkeyes set a school record for an NCAA Tournament game by making 12 3-point baskets, including 10 in the first half. Iowa made eight of its first nine shots from 3-point range and led 37-32 at halftime.
“We hadn’t been shooting the three real well,” said Davis, who will step down as head coach after the season. “I thought it was just one of those things. These guys were really motivated to play today. And I don’t know that they were totally open looks.
“They just got the feeling. It went right around the horn. It wasn’t just one guy.”
Iowa had seven players who made at least one 3-pointer, led by seniors Jess Settles and Kent McCausland with three apiece.
The Hawkeyes (19-9) now will play Arkansas at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday in the second round. Arkansas advanced by defeating Siena 94-80 Thursday.
“The outcome was a lot of fun. Everybody played and enjoyed themselves,” freshman Joey Range said. “Coach Davis gets to coach again and all the seniors get another chance. “We’re not going to live on this first game. We’re going to try and go into the second round and do the same thing.”
Therein lies the problem for the Hawkeyes, who have lost six games in a row in the second round of the NCAA Tournament under Davis.
But nobody seemed too concerned about that dubious fact Thursday. The players and coaches were just pleased to still be alive in the tournament.
“I was a little unsure about exactly how I would perform. But I was just going to give it 100 percent. It’s been my dream to play in this tournament since I was 5 or 6 years old. And I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”
“We recognize that we had our hands full with a quality opponent from a quality league,” said Davis, whose record improved to 11-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament including 9-0 at Iowa. “I’m just very appreciative of what this team did today. But more importantly, what they’ve done all season long.
“They’ve been a great pleasure to be around and to work with.”
Davis was especially proud of Dean Oliver’s performance under difficult circumstances.
Oliver, a sophomore point guard from Mason City, scored 15 points and he had a team-high six assists and just one turnover despite not practicing for a week because of the flu. Oliver played 19 minutes, but he did not start for the first time in 56 games.
“I thought he had a courageous effort,” Davis said of Oliver. “He missed a lot of days of practice. He just told me (Wednesday), `I’ll be there. I’ll be there.’ I wasn’t sure that he could do it. But he had a terrific game.”
Davis also praised junior Ryan Luehrsmann, who started at point guard for the first time this season. Luehrsmann finished with five points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists in 22 minutes.
“I thought Ryan Luehrsmann deserved a lot of credit,” Davis said. “Not only making the start. But getting us off to a good start and making it comfortable to let Dean go to the bench.”
Oliver helped secure the victory by scoring eight points in the final 3 minutes, 43 seconds of the game. His off-balance jumper gave the Hawkeyes a 76-64 lead with 1:36 left to play.
UAB cut the lead to one point on two occasions in the second half. But the Hawkeyes never folded.
“We all kept our composure because we’ve been in close games all year long,” Oliver said. “We expected a close game. We knew they could possibly come back.”
Oliver said he was not about to miss his first opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes participated in the NIT Tournament last season when he was a freshman.
“I was a little unsure about exactly how I would perform,” Oliver said. “But I was just going to give it 100 percent. It’s been my dream to play in this tournament since I was 5 or 6 years old. And I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”
His teammates apparently had the same feeling. Especially from 3-point range.
Of Iowa’s first 11 baskets, 10 were from 3-point range.
Alabama-Birmingham coach Murry Bartow was concerned about Iowa’s depth from 3-point range heading into the game. Now we know why.
“We were very aware that they could shoot the three,” Bartow said. “Obviously, when a team makes 10 threes in a half, you don’t expect that.
“It’s a little tougher to defend them. As you go over matchups, there’s four or five guys that can make threes.”
Settles, a sixth-year senior forward, led four Iowa players in double figures with 17 points. He also had a team-high nine rebounds.
Senior forward Fred Williams led UAB in scoring with 26 points and 14 rebounds. UAB had 18 offensive rebounds, including 15 in the first half.
“That’s one of the best offensive rebounding teams that I’ve ever seen,” Settles said.
However, the Blazers only made 24-of-63 shots and 10-of-19 free throws against a team that struggled with perimeter defense at times this season.
“In the losses we’ve had this year, it just seemed like teams were raining (3-pointers) on us,” Settles said. “Today, we were the team raining on them.”
Here’s a list of “MAD” Moments that have appeared previously inside hawkeyesports.com.