Nov. 16, 2010
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By RICHIE ZAWISTOWSKI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — They say that good things come to those who wait. While it might not have been a long wait, the University of Iowa men’s basketball team now has its first mark in the win column. Two days after falling short in its season-opener, the Hawkeyes got their first victory in the Fran McCaffery era, by defeating Louisiana-Monroe 68-40 on Tuesday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The style of game that McCaffery promised was in full-force, although the number of Iowa turnovers limited the efficiency at times. The Hawkeyes ran the break, scoring 17 points in transition, and also used pressure defense to force 26 Louisiana-Monroe turnovers — in which Iowa netted 26 points.
“I thought defensively that’s about as well as we can play,” said McCaffery. “We did a lot of things well. We locked into their key personnel. We did some aggressive things in both halves. One was full court pressure the second half. You have to create some offense with the defense, when our offense is struggling a little bit, which it still is.”
Zach McCabe led Iowa with 12 points and he was the only Hawkeye to score in double figures in the 28-point win. Melsahn Basabe grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, and chipped in seven points, and point guard Cully Payne had a game-high seven assists to go along with seven points.
Louisiana-Monroe turned the ball over on its first two possessions via a traveling violation, and Payne capitalized for Iowa hitting a 3-pointer 39 seconds in for the games first points.
Sloppy play from Louisiana-Monroe early and Iowa bombing 3-pointers helped Iowa jump out to a 13-2 lead with 14:22 remaining. Louisiana-Monroe turned the ball over eight out of its first nine possessions, while 3’s from Payne and McCabe gave Iowa the early advantage.
The Hawkeyes didn’t do much to separate themselves though. Turnovers plagued Iowa as well, and it turned the ball over seven times in the next seven minutes, allowing Louisiana-Monroe to climb back to make the game 15-11 with 7:31 left in the half forcing Iowa to call timeout.
“We are not executing our half-court offense the way it needs to be executed,” said McCaffery. “That’s where the frustration came in.”
“I thought defensively that’s about as well as we can play. We did a lot of things well. We locked into their key personnel. We did some aggressive things in both halves. One was full court pressure the second half. You have to create some offense with the defense, when our offense is struggling a little bit, which it still is.”
UI head coach
However, Iowa responded with a 10-4 run, including two 3-pointers, one of which, off a beautiful feed from Payne. Payne drove baseline, and whipped the ball across the floor to the opposite corner where Jordan Stoemer drained the shot from deep giving Iowa the 25-15 lead with 2:59 remaining in the half.
Iowa was sent into the locker room with a nice amount of momentum. With just eight seconds left in the half, Payne took his defender off the dribble and drove left, drawing the defenders attention just enough. Payne flipped it back to May on the left wing, who fired up the 3-pointer that landed in nothing but net sending Iowa into the break up 29-18.
“I was just playing the point guard spot,” said Payne. “I hit open shots and got to the rim when I thought I had to and kept the game flowing. I felt like I was in control of the game, which is a pretty big thing for a point guard.”
Jarryd Cole put Iowa on the board first in the second half when he hit a short 10-feet jumper from the elbow to make the score 31-21.
Later, Payne attuned for a missed layup the previous time down the floor. He drove left, faked a pass out to the wing, and finished with the layup putting Iowa up 35-22 with 16:37 remaining.
The following play for Iowa was the play of the game, and set the tone for the remainder of the contest.
May stole the ball near mid-court and had an open floor in front of him. May rose above the rim, and slammed the ball down with force giving Iowa a 37-22 lead with 14:22 remaining. The dunk ignited the crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and on the ensuing possession, Louisiana-Monroe was called for a 10-second violation as it could not get the ball past half-court on Iowa’s tough defense.
May’s dunk along with Iowa switching to a pressure defense when Louisiana-Monroe was bringing up the ball sparked Iowa during a 16-6 run that made the score 56-28 at the 8:25 mark.
“That’s the benefit of the zone-press,” said May. “You can really change the game around, change the momentum really quick. You put teams away that way by plays like that.”
The Hawkeyes never looked back and cruised the rest of the way for the 28-point win. Iowa now travels to the Virgin Islands to take part in the Paradise Jam. The Hawkeyes open the tournament Nov. 19 when they take on Xavier with tip-off scheduled for 7:35 Iowa time.