'Cats Claw Iowa Again

Greg Brunner scored a career-high 28 points for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes squandered a double-digit lead late and fell 75-74 to Northwestern Wednesday night in Evanston. It was the Hawkeyes third consecutive loss in the series. "We've had this (starting) lineup for a long time," Iowa Coach Steve Alford said. "And we're six games into the Big Ten season now and we're two games below .500. So, maybe it's time for some changes."

Bobby Hansen: Steve, I don't even have any questions. What happened out there tonight?

Steve Alford: The smarter team won. I don't know how many words are less than smart, but we just had one lapse after another from playing the game at an intelligent rate. We had the game won about three different times all the way down to the end where we defend all of their options and they throw it to the kid in the corner that had't moved.

It's hard for me to imagine that it's real difficult assignment to guard somebody that hasn't moved. We missed free throws. We couldn't make free throws.

We had some guys do some good things offensively. Bru has a career high offensively but so does his man (Vedran Vukusic). His man got 32. Pierre has 10 turnovers in a game.

I've praised our captains all year long. I thought tonight was as bad as I've seen them perform. It's frustrating because this was a must-win for us and we didn't get it.

We're going to have to make some changes going into Saturday's game (against Indiana) and try to get better.

Steve, you talked about this being mental toughness week. Did your team in the mental toughness department?

Oh, there's no question. You've got a team down 10 with two and a half to play and it becomes all toughness. And we didn't show it. That's what we point on the board (in the locker room) and we sure didn't pass that test.

Carlton Reed off the bench I thought was a bright spot.

He was very good. And we've got to get him some more time. I wouldn't be surprised of he's in the (starting) lineup. Alex did some good things. And Doug really responded well. Those guys really did some good things.

Steve, 15-26 from the free throw line. You can't go out there and shoot the free throws for the guys. What is it? Is it mental? Is it the pressure of the situation that got to him?

I don't know, Bobby. That's a good question. But college basketball is about handling pressure. And we didn't handle it tonight. You've got to have guys that can shoot free throws. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do that tonight.

Coach, with Indiana coming in, it will be difficult for the team to forget this. What do you do as a coach? What do you do in practice to try to put this behind you?

A lot of loose ball drills; toughness drills. And really get us ready by 4 o'clock Saturday, maybe make some lineup changes. We've had this lineup for a long time. And we're six games into the Big Ten season now and we're two games below .500. So, maybe it's time for some changes.


Bobby Hansen: What happened there in the overtime?

Greg Brunner: They just hit a big shot. And it was probably one of the dumbest games we've played in a long time. I don't know what our problem was there. We weren't mentally there tonight. We struggled very bad. That's all I can really say.

I give all of the credit in the world to Northwestern. They made the big shot when they needed one.

Can you talk about the matchup with Vukusic?

He's a very good, skilled player. That's what he lives off. He's a great 3-point shooter He's their best cutter. One second he's there and the next second he's gone. He got me a couple of times on that. I struggled with it tonight.

Greg, take us inside that Iowa locker room.

It's pretty heartbroken right now. Everybody is pretty down. It's a tough loss. You never want to lose those games. We played well enough to win. We should have had that game in alot better grasp than we did.

What happens to a player when they do to the free throw line? Is it the pressure of the situation? Is it fatigue?

I don't know what we shot as a team. I know I missed one of my two and then Jeff missed two in a row. That would have won us the game, obviously. It's something that rarely ever happens. I felt good the whole night on my free throw stroke. One just popped out on me. It's just part of basketball.

Northwestern has had you number. That's three in a row. Is it the system or is it the talent?

They're very skilled. They're very well coached. They all play very hard and they play to win. We've got to bounce back when we get them at home.

Indiana coming in on Saturday. There's a lot of basketball left.

We've just got to put this behind us. It's going to be very hard to do. But it's part of basketball.

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