Shakin' It Up: After Wednesday's collapse at Northwestern, Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford shook up his starting line-up. He opened the game with only one of his regulars - sophomore guard Adam Haluska. Doug Thomas, Carlton Reed, Alex
Thompson and Mike Henderson also were on the floor for the opening tip. Reed, Thomas and Henderson received their first starts as collegians. Thomas started one other time - at Drake on November 30.
Horner had started all previous 79 games of his Iowa career. Brunner was in the opening lineup for the last 31 contests prior to Saturday and 68 of 79 games at Iowa. Pierce had opened 38 games in a row and 80 of 83 games with the Hawkeyes.
Haluska, Pierce, Horner, Brunner and Thomas started the second half.
Sitting with the Enemy: Several Indiana students were sitting in the Iowa student section. However, it was the first time in the last Saturday games that the opponent didn't have a student section of 40 or 50 people set up in Carver.
Comeback Kid: Jeff Horner, who hit a low at Northwestern with poor defense on the game-winning shot, bounced back nicely, especially late in the game. Indiana had closed to within seven points of the lead when Horner fired in a deep 3-pointer with 6:19 remaining in the game.
On his team's next offensive possession, Horner lofted up a beautiful alley-oop pass to Thomas, who threw it down with authority. With 3:45 on the clock, Horner banged home another trey for a 65-41 Hawkeye advantage. The Hoosiers never got the lead inside 10 points the rest of the way.
Man Down: Haluska crashed to the ground and remained there after stealing the ball with 5:28 to play in the contest. He was taken to the trainer's room and limped back to the bench in the final minute with ice on his right ankle. Reed replaced Haluska and ripped through two free throws.
Haluska told Coach Alford that he rolled the ankle but would be ready to go by next Saturday's game against Michigan State at Carver. The sophomore was still receiving treatment from trainers about an hour after the game while his family waited in the tunnel.
Miked Up: Indiana Coach Mike Davis was burning when he reached press row to do his postgame radio interview.
"I can't believe we couldn't come up here and play with these guys," Davis told his radio crew. "That was the worst (bleepin') officiating I've ever seen."
Davis continued voicing his displeasure for several minutes before live on air. He stopped commenting on the officials at that point.
Tip-Ins: Horner wore black sneakers and black socks for the first time this season…Saturday was the second biggest "actual" crowd of the season behind Iowa State…Horner hit a trey with 13:07 to play in the opening half that broke up a 13-12 game and sent the Hawkeyes on an 11-2 run. The Hawkeyes took a 35-28 halftime lead courtesy of 60.9 percent shooting from the floor…Pierce shot 6 of 8 from the floor in scoring 14 first-half points with just one turnover…Iowa opened the second half on a 9-2 run to grab a 44-30 advantage at first media...Brunner took an elbow above his left eye that required five or six stitches (he couldn't remember how many). break (15:25).
Opening Statement: Well, obviously a big win for us. It's a very big win for our team and program. To be at 15 wins after 20 games, these guys have done a lot of good things. Three of our Big Ten losses have been overtime, overtime and one basket.
We've just got to keep working to get over that hump and eliminate some mistakes. But our guys really did a nice job of rebounding through jus a lot of heartache over the last couple of days with the Northwestern loss.
And as fate would have it, at the last media timeout there was 3:11 on the clock plus 12. Anf that's almost verbatim of what happened in Evanston. So, to be able to respond in a positive way was very good for this team.
We're going to need some momentum. We're going to need some confidence going into next week because we've got an outstanding team coming in here next Saturday.
How do you think your starters reacted to their benching?
They responded in the huge way. Benching or consequeces, however you want to say it, I just felt like those three individuals needed some consequences because they're no different than the rest of the team.
They've been tremendous all year, but the three captains just didn't perform the way they have to perform in the Northwestern game down the stretch.
It was more of consequence. As I told them, this isn't going to last long. I wasn't even for sure if I'd even get to two minutes in before I sent them in. Coach Neal was wanting to know if we could send them in prior to the tip; if that counted. (laughter)
It was just a message. And three responded the way I thought they would respond.
Consequently, you had 54 bench points.
That's the most bench points we've had all year. (laughter) We've talked about devloping our bench. Our bench has really devloped.
It must have been nice to see free throws being made and Horner's shots going in.
It was good to see Jeff have a bustout. He's the typical Hawk, though, that's born and raised in this state and wants to be a Hawk. And then you get here and you just want to play perfectly. And that's what we appreciate about Jeff.
He just loves being a Hawk and he wants todo everything right. You just can't do that. You're not going to play perfect basketball games.
He got off to a tremendous start (this season). He got shook a little bit. And he busted out the black shoes today and it worked.
I'm very proud and pleased for him because nobody, nobody wants to do any better than what he does. He really wants to play well, and he feels badly when he doesn't.
Did you sense your team fed off the crowd?
The crowd was tremendous. That's what we need. We're going to need environments like that because we're not a great foul shooting team. We're doing some other things pretty well. But we're going to have some tight games.
Can you talk about the defense Henderson, Haluska and Pierce played on Bracey Wright?
Those three did a great job; Pierre for the most part. We've talked about it and talked about it. Sooner or later he'll get the publicity that he needs.
He's just an outstaning guard. He's an all-first team selection in this league. In my mind, he's the best defending guard in this league.
How is Adam?
Hopefully good. As I talked to him in the locker room, he said it's not as bad as what it looked. I said, yeah, the way you were wincing I thought it might be a month injury.
He thinks that he just rolled (his ankle). We're fortunate that the break comes here when we have six days to get him back. I think he'll be OK.
Did you feel like Pierre accepted the challenge after Wednesday?
Yeah. I just felt like all three of the captains were careless in the Northwestern game, and that cost us. We're up 12 with three minutes to go that's when you leaders have to take control of the game. They're the ones that have to make the plays and the game is over. And that didn't happen.
Today, all three of them did that. And that's one thing they've been doing most of the year. It was a tough lesson to learn, but you can't ever put your guard down, especially in this league. You have to finish a 40-minute game.
We paid a price for that Wednesday. And it was a good bounce-back game today.
Is the starting center spot up for grabs right now?
Yeah, probably. That's been coming. Erek has struggled a little bit. Today he got some of his bounce back. Bru challenged White pretty good. But Erek did some good things and his length bothered him a little bit.
We'll go through practice this week and see how it happens. A month ago Erek's to Doug's minutes were probably 75-25 (percent). Now, those minutes are probably more 50-50.
How optimistic are you right now about where this team can go?
Very good because I just love this team.
We had a very tough deal against Michigan were our first half was our worst first half of our year. That gets us by a basket.
We play extremely well over at Illinois and have a chance to win it and lose in overtime. And did a lot of good things against the Northwestern team, scored well, but didn't do the things the last three minutes.
We're right there. But now it's time to go.
As I told them going into this game, guys we still have a third of the season left. That's a lot of season left. So, in these 10 games let's do everything we can. This is a very good basketball team. Let's relax and have fun. We played a little bit more relaxed today.
You didn't start. How did that affect you guys?
Jeff, Pierre and I knew we didn't play very well last game. It was coach's decision. It's not about us. It's about the team.
We ran with it. We went with it. We did whatever we could to pump up the team. They deserve to start just as much as we do. We were happy. They played great. We had no disappointments or anything.
When did you find out?
The night probably of the Northwestern game. It was pretty clear. (laughter)
Are you guys back?
We'll see Saturday.
What were the last two days like since Northwestern?
Jeff, Pierre and I were playing on the gold squad (in practice), which is usually associated with our reserve team. It was a very physical two days. We've been going at each other pretty hard. That prepared us for the game.
What was it like emotionally?
It was hard. That was a tough loss. A lot of guys were crying in the locker room after the game because they were so upset with themselves.
This is the best thing about college basketball. You get a loss, you get to play two to three days later. You need to put it behind you.
Did the three of you guys sit down and talk things out?
We talked on the phone every night. We kept each other up. Coach had a good meeting with us for about an hour on Thursday. He explained everything that was going on. And we agreed with him.
It seemed like you guys were communicating well on offense. Is that a fair assessment?
Oh yeah, we were out there talking. Our defense was great. Our defense led to a lot of offense.
You could tell that their game plan was to go inside. They did that, but we just wanted to get out and run. Late clock, we made a lot of things happen, which was crucial.
How did you feel when you found out you got benched?
I was kind of upset. But that's just nature. You know when you're a captain, you're held at a higher level. There's going to be consequences when you play the way that we did. To miss two free throws and to give up a shot like that is unacceptable.
That's not just unacceptable on coach's terms. That's unacceptable on my terms. His choice was the right choice. You saw how competitive Bru, Pierre and I are. We came out here and competed tonight. That's what we needed to do.
How did you mentally regroup from the other night?
That was tough. That was one of the toughest games I've ever played. It was just hard to take.
Being a Hawkeye fan for so long, you just have so many fans out there that you don't want to let down. It felt like you let the whole world down the other night.
Luckily we had a couple of days to regroup and just think about it.
Do you beat yourself up over it? How do you get it out?
I definitely beat myself for a day about it. I really didn't say anything to anybody. Ijujst went out there and went through the motions.
On Friday, I realized that this team needs me to be a leader. I can't be acting like that. I just came out on Friday and pushed people as hard as I could. Luckily it showed today.
Is this literally the first game you've not started in your life?
I think it is. Well, I think some of those things in Colorado Springs (at the Olympic Training facility) I didn't start a couple of games there. Other than that, that's it.
But like I said, it was the coach's choice, and we responded to it. It was good that he did that because some of us were resting and taking basketball for granted. We can't do that.