Iowa coach Steve Alford shook up the starting lineup on Tuesday night. The Hawks were reeling from a three game swoon where neither effort or defense were overly abundant. Therefore, All-American Luke Recker and Freshman wunderkind Pierre Pierce were riding the pines when the ball was tipped in the early start ESPN national televised game.
The two guards took their demotion in stride and showed their measure facing adversity by sparking a furious Iowa rally in the final two minutes. Pierce dogged Startan star Marcus Taylor in the second half including a key strip and steal with under a minute left. Pierce was then fouled as he raced to the other end. After a hug from Luke, Pierre canned both free throws to give Iowa a 73-71 lead with just twenty two ticks left on the timepiece.
Pierce received some warm encouragement from Recker as he stepped to the line. "I just said, You're a big-time player, Pierre, and big-time players make these free throws at the end" Luke said.
Taylor than missed a three point shot and Recker ended up at the line to seal the victory. Luke then canned two free throws to seal the deal.
Iowa star muscleman, Reggie Evans, led Iowa with 16 points. However he was attacked, hacked and over the backed by two Spartans preventing another deuce-deuce. Aloysius Anagonye and Adam Ballinger both fouled out with their rough inside play against the Joker. Reggie, however, got the last laugh. "We were at home and we had to get our fans back," Evans said. "Our fans are great. We have the best fans in the Big Ten. We had to give them something to cheer about."
Chauncey Leslie also contributed greatly to this victory with solid defensive play and two key layups. Leslie used his tremendous speed to drive for the baskets. After being fouled on the second breakaway, he cooly stepped to the line to complete the three point play. That gave Iowa the lead, 70-69, with a minute and a half left.
This was a total team victory as the Hawks got a monkey off their back. The Hawks must now continue their stellar play as they face the always tough Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette on Saturday.