Iowa recorded its 9th Big Ten Tournament win, which is second to Illinois (13)…With today's victory, Iowa reached the 20 win plateau for the 22nd time in school history…
Iowa had 21 assists today on the 26 field goals. That is a B10 Tourney best for the Hawkeyes, with the previous high being vs. Minnesota in 2000.
Jeff Horner had eight of the 21 assists, tying him for an Iowa B10 Tourney best. He is now 6th all time at Iowa, just four shy of BJ Armstrong for fifth (173). He moved past Dean Oliver and Ronnie Lester today.
Erek Hansen's six rebound performance was his highest since the St. Louis game early in the season (5).
Rudy Tomjanovich, BJ Armstrong, and Ronnie Lester were in the crowd today scouting for their respective organizations. Two-time US Open golf champion Andy North was in full Badger gear today while taking in the game.
Iowa improved to 16-2 when leading at the half, while Purdue falls to 0-16 when trailing at the break. The Hawkeyes also improve to 16-1 when scoring between 70-79 points.
"Obviously, we have had some success in this tournament, and then, the last two years, we have been ousted in the first game. So, we really went into this tournament talking about the first time that we were here when we played well in December and we've been playing well towards the end of the season. To get 20 wins after losing our best player, and to go five and five speaks volumes for the effort they put forth. I am very pleased. We got two tournaments left and both are one and done tournaments, so its important to get that first win and move on. I thought the guys did every defensively that we could do to have an opportunity to move on."
On coaching against Coach Keady in his last game. Any words exchanged?
"No, not really. I told him when I last saw him in West Lafeyette that whether I was a player or a coach I respect all my colleagues very much and nobody has gained my respect more than coach Keady has because of the way he has done things. He has great ethics, great character, great integrity. He has done a tremendous job not just in wins, loses and championships, but I think he has been tremendous for guys like me who played in the 80's all the way to coaches that coach against him. He has done so much for our game at every level that he is going to be missed. It is going to effect the Big Ten. That happened a few years ago when we lost Coach Knight. I feel the same way in a lot of regards in losing Coach Keady. It's not going to be easy."
On tomorrow's game against MSU.
"They are a great transition team and a phenomenal rebounding team. Michigan State has about seven guys that can get double digits on us. They are really difficult to guard and extremely balanced. They have a ton of experience. They are on a mission. They are loaded with seniors, loaded with experience. All those things can scare you a little bit. I know our guys will show up and we will go out and fight against a top 10 team that in my mind has a chance to be a Final Four team."
Could this game be called, "welcome back" for you?
Yes, I guess you could say so. We all played pretty well today.
There was a four-minute stretch in which you kind of took control in the 2nd half.
Well, we all did well during that time. Bru, Jeff, Adam, Doug – just everyone. It was a great effort.
Will you have to be at your best tomorrow with Michigan State?
Yes, they rebound well. I think that if we out rebound them and slow them down in transition we will win. That is the key.
Do you like playing at the United Center?
I like it here, yes. But wherever you play you have to come ready to go. If you win, the United Center is good. If not, we do not like it. So, we want to stay here longer.
Have you been replaying old high school game film again?
Well, yes I kind of am. I just keep thinking about one game in high school ever since that Penn State trip. I am feeling good about my shooting right now and that leads to everyone else feeling good too.
Is it something about the United Center that brings out the best in your team?
I guess so because we are winning. We just feel good right now, that is four wins in a row. The Bulls are playing well here, too. (Then I said: it must be the ghosts of Bobby Hansen past – Hansen was sitting right there and laughed.)
What will it take to beat Michigan State tomorrow?
We have to win on the boards, or at least stay close. Also, the transition game must be slowed. They know how to push the ball up the court and get it to the rim in a hurry.
Is Michigan State the most athletic team you face in the Big Ten – from top to bottom?
Yes, I think that is fair to say. They have Maurice Ager, Drew Neitzel, Kelvin Torbert, Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, I could go on and on. We will have to be at our best to beat them, but we have played them close this year. We know what to expect it is just a matter of going out and getting it done.
Talk to how you have completely taken control of your game of late.
I have taken control of my game? Is that even possible? Yes, I have been playing pretty good, but we all have. We just won our fourth game in a row. I am only as good as my teammates, and Jeff, Bru, Erek, Mike, well, everyone played well today.
Michigan State may be the most athletic team top to bottom in the league. What do you need to do to get beyond the Spartans?
We need to score more points (laughs). Really, it will just need to clear the boards and stop their transition. If we are hitting shots we can work Bru, Erek, and Doug inside. If we can do that it will disrupt their switching, pressure half-court defense. But, they are a good team and it will take a good effort.