Iowa left no doubts in anyone's mind on Saturday night that they are a better team than Missouri. Led by Luke Recker's career high 31 points and a smothering defense, Iowa crushed previously undefeated and #2 Missouri 83-65.
The Joker may be funny in Iowa City but he didn't leave the standing room only crowd of 13,545 laughing in the Hearnes Center. Reggie Evans got another double deuce with 15 points and 17 boards. Iowa dominated the boards once again, holding a 48-35 rebounding margin.
But this game was won by the tremendous defensive effort by the entire team. The Hawks held Missouri to a season worst 33.3 percent from the field. Tiger stars Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert were hounded hard and were held to a combined 5 of 26 from the floor. Missouri as a team was only 5 out of 29 from three point range.
Although Recker contributed mightily on the defensive end, his offense was beautiful to behold. Luke was 10 for 17, included 4 for 5 from three point range, and 7 for 7 from the line. His previous high of 29 occurred when he was playing for Bobby Knight at Indiana.
Freshman Pierre Pierce answered the call against Missouri's guards with a fine defensive effort, good balhandling and a career high 17 points. Pierre was 6 for 8 from the field, including several short range shots made possible by his penetration and quickness.
"There's no quicker and more accurate way to find out who you are and where you are than to play a good team and have it completely handed to you. It's a sick feeling," Mizzou coach Quin Snyder said. "It's a feeling that should sit in our stomachs for a while."
Iowa's ultimate warrior, Reggie Evans, never came out of the game. "I was about to die," Evans said. "I think if I had played one more minute I would have died. But the important thing is to keep the motor running."
Iowa's locker room was full of joy as the players celebrated revenging the bitter, controversial one-point loss to Missouri last month. "We can't make up for that loss," Recker said. But we win tonight in a lot tougher environment."
"Our guys came in here fired up and ready for this one. To outrebound them by 15, to hold them to 33 percent shooting and 65 points, that has something to do with playing defense and playing it the way it is supposed to be played" said Iowa coach Steve Alford.
The classless Missouri fans shouted words not spoken in church at the Hawks as they left the court. Evans answered back by shouting, "Give us our trophy back."
"We felt like the wrong team won it the first time. So we wanted our trophy back. They did a lot of talking and stuff, so we had to come here and shut their mouths" Evans said.
Now the fans' mouths need to be washed out with soap. But not their clocks, those have been well cleaned!