Iowa-MSU Notes & Quotes

Game Notes from Jason Miller in Chicago.

The No. 2 seed falls to 14-4 in Big Ten Tournament (BTT) games, including a 1-2 mark vs. No. 7 seeds. Iowa improves to 10-6 in BTT games and 3-1 as a No. 7 seed. The Hawkeyes also improve to 3-4 in quarterfinal contests and 7-4 in BTT games played at the United Center. Iowa improves to 8-5 in all games played at the United Center (W, 83-53 vs. Texas Tech and L, 80-62 vs. Duke in 2002). Michigan State falls to 4-4 in BTT quarterfinal games and 8-6 overall.

Iowa advances to play the winner of the Wisconsin vs. Ohio State game in the semifinals tomorrow at 3:05 p.m. CST. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 in BTT semifinal contests.

Iowa's 10 wins is second-best in BTT games. Illinois ranks first (14), while Michigan State is third (8). Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford now has nine BTT career victories (9-4), which is tops all-time ahead of Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo (8-6).

Iowa has won its last five games of the season, while the Spartans have dropped two of their last 10.

Iowa's Mike Henderson netted a career-best 17 (6-10 FG, 5-6 FT) points. The sophomore guard matched a career-high 11 points in Iowa's first round triumph over Purdue. The native of Waterloo, Iowa, also matched a career high with five boards.

Jeff Horner (12) and Mike Henderson (8) combined to score 20 of Iowa's first 25 points. Horner scored all 12 of his first half points from beyond the arc (4-7). Horner blocked a career-high two shots, only the fourth and fifth of the season for the junior guard.

Iowa's Doug Thomas pulled down a game and career-high 11 rebounds. He pulled down 10 boards twice before.

Both teams converted 41.4 percent (12-29) from the field and corralled 18 rebounds (6 offensive and 12 defensive) in the first half.

Iowa led 34-30 at halftime, marking only the sixth time this season that Michigan State trailed at the break. Michigan State falls to 1-5 when trailing at the break. Teams are 4-2 when leading at the half in 2005 BTT games, with the only comebacks being Ohio State vs. Penn State and Northwestern vs. Michigan in the first round. The Hawkeyes also improve to 17-1 when scoring between 70-79 points. BTT teams are 4-0 when netting 71 points or more. BTT teams that have scored 70 points or less ate 2-6.

After the higher seed won the first four BTT games, the lower seed won the last two (No. 5 Minnesota and No. 7 Iowa).

Michigan State entered tonight's game as the nation's leading free throw shooting team (.791). Tonight the Spartans converted a season-low .500 (15-30). The 50 percent free throw shooting is Michigan State's worst in BTT play; its previous low was .533 (16-30) vs. Penn State (3/9/01). Michigan State's Alan Anderson, who entered the game ranked third on the Spartans' career free throw shooting list (.833) and ranked first in the Big Ten foul shooting (.927), sank only .500 (5-10) tonight. He was 4-8 from the charity stripe in the second half, including missing two crucial free throws with 6.5 seconds left in the game.

Michigan State's loss tonight is its fifth in its last seven BTT contests, including its third loss in its BTT opener.

The team that has recorded the most steals improves to 5-0 in BTT games this year (Iowa 7, MSU 2) and has won 19 of the last 22 BTT contests.

Iowa had four players post double figures in scoring, marking the second straight BTT contest a team had four players register double digits (Minnesota). Mike Henderson and Greg Brunner scored 17 points each to lead the Hawkeyes, followed by Jeff Horner (16) and Adam Haluska (10). Haluska netted all 10 points in the second stanza.

Accurate shooting had been a strength for Michigan State in the second half in the last five games (.583), but tonight the Spartans hit just .414 percent (12-29).

Michigan State's two most foul-filled games of the season have come against the Hawkeyes. Michigan State tallied a season-high 28 fouls on 2/5/05 and tonight the Spartans were whistled for 27.

NBA Scouts who were in attendance: Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge, Rudy Tomjanovich, BJ Armstrong. Former DePaul University Head Coach Ray Meyer was in attendance, and was even part of the six couples who were chosen to take part during a time out "Kiss Me Cam".

Iowa went on a 12-3 run over 6:32 after the Steve Alford technical foul.

Ted Valentine cannot win: Donnee Gray calls the TF and Mr. Valentine catches all the heat from the Iowa faithful.

Iowa and Michigan State were even at 16-16 on the boards in the first half, which would be a huge reason as to why the Hawks led 34-30 at half.

Iowa's leading scorer, Adam Haluska, did not score until the 19:32 mark of the second half on a 2-point play.

At the TV timeout of the 2nd half, you would think it was a football game by looking at the foul totals. Iowa 17, Michigan State 7. Simple math says Iowa was averaging 1.4 fouls per minute.

Iowa is now 17-2 when leading at halftime in 2004-05.

Head Coach Steve Alford

"There will be time for quotes from me and our players, but first our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Weber's family. We are all in this business. We are all colleagues and the passing of his mother today is a tragic thing. We just want to make sure that his family and his staff know that the Hawks have him and his family in our thoughts and prayers."

What were the keys?

"The guys kind of touched on it. Anytime you play Michigan State you have to defend the backboard, and we won that by one. You have to defend the transition game and they had only four transition points. Any time you can hold them to only four transition points it will have a dramatic impact on the game. I also think paint scores, or easy scores, are key, and we were able to win that as well. These were the three areas we focused on, and I really did not know if we could do all three. Finally, you look at foul shooting. Both teams went to the line 30-plus times, and our goal is 24 for 30. We were 20 out of 31. We did beat them by five points at the free throw line, and, if you had told me that was going to be the case with 10 minutes left in the game, I would have told you that you were crazy."

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo:

"It is a very disappointing loss for us tonight. We just didn't do the things we needed to do. I guess we didn't learn anything from watching North Carolina, Boston College and all the other teams, even Ohio State last night. I thought we were warned enough. We did not come out with the energy we needed. I guess, to our credit, we bounced back in the second half. You get what you deserve, and we did not deserve to win tonight. I am happy for Coach Alford and the Big Ten. I think we deserve five teams in. I am upset and disappointed for us. This is a team that led the nation in free throw percentage and lost four games at the line. That and the lay-ups tonight were ridiculous."

On Michigan State's point guard situation. "

We have problems there, but it is not our biggest problem. We must have missed six or seven lay-ups. We missed free throws all night long. We missed lay-ups all night long. We were struggling a little bit, but the game should have never had come down to that. Nothing against Iowa, I think they played there tails off like it was the most important thing in the world to them. You could see a difference in them when they played with a sense of urgency and when they didn't. It was pretty graphic."

On the play of Iowa's Mike Henderson

"I thought he played great. He took it to us. We need to get a little stronger at that position. He has been playing better, and I think it was a good move on Steve's part."

Greg Brunner

Big win today Bru, how about it?

This was a crucial win today. We are playing like we need, like we want that NCAA birth. We have not gotten it yet, but we have to keep fighting for it. Fighting against Wisconsin or Ohio State is first up, though.

What were the keys that the team set before the game to win it?

We talked about busting on the boards and holding down the transition game. I think we did both today. Doug (Thomas) had 11 big boards, everyone hit the boards hard. So far this season those little things have been going against us. The toughness that we have would not quit, so we did not quit and got a win today.

Was it a different game plan on the boards, or just doing the same things and they work out for you?

We are a good, tough rebounding club. We have been fighting it hard, and I have bruises all over to prove it (shows me his arms and under his eye). We did what we have to do and won a game. You have to live to fight another day.

Jack Brownlee

Talk about getting a hard fought win in the United Center tonight.

Yes, it is great for all these guys. We have been through a lot together this year and it is starting to work out for us. The coaches are working hard in practice and out of it, and that helps us to be a better team in the end.

What was going through your mind the last three minutes, with the issue still in doubt?

It is tough. It is tough to play in an environment like this when the ball is not bouncing your ways. Greg was working hard, Doug was working, Erek, Jeff, and you could go to everyone down the line.

When was the last time you were shooting free throws in a key situation?

I thought back to my senior year at the state tournament. It was at the end of the game and I had a pair of them to win it for us. Of course the ball bounced a little different today. Fortunately, we got a win out of it though.

Is it tough to miss free throws when you shoot about 200 a day trying to make them?

Especially because you want to hit the rim and try to not foul anyone. I guess you never think to miss them, and I had to. But, I make it – we still won and that makes you feel good.

Doug Thomas

Talk about beating the #10 team in the country here in the United Center.

Yes, it was a big win for us. Anytime you win a game it is a good game, but beating a team like Michigan State makes you feel even better. We are trying to make the NCAAs, but trying to win the Big Ten, too. It is pretty fun right now.

This is your first taste of the Big Ten Tournament, is it a different mentality you play with then during the regular season?

We just have to go out and do our job(s). It is not any easier playing a team once or three times a season. But, when you play them a second time you know what they do and hope to contain that. We won so we did a good job.

Playing an athletic team like MSU and holding them on the boards has got to make you confident to play anyone.

Yeah, that is a good team there that out rebounds everyone. (Paul) Davis knows how to ball and will probably go to the NBA someday. We just had to work hard and it paid off.

Can you remember being in a position where two free throws by yourself would mean so much?

To be honest, in college we won every game by like 40 so I never had a chance there. But in high school, maybe one time. I cannot remember fully though.

Jeff Horner

Were you just taking what they gave you in the first half or creating on your own?

Well, I feel like I just took the shots I needed to take. They were falling in the first half, but in the second half it was not so good. We played a solid game on them in transition, and won the battle on the boards. Well, I think we did (I told him the Hawks did win the boards battle).

You mentioned yesterday that the keys to winning against MSU were rebounding and transition defense.

And, if I would have bet you a Coke I would have won (laughed). But, really, it was a team effort. Bru hit the glass, Doug hit the glass and hit some big free throws. Mikey has a career high today when Adam did not have his best scoring total. But, Adam does so much on defense that it is worth 20 points.

Are you still watching the game from high school in your mind?

You love this question, don't you? (laughs) I did a little bit, but I thank the tape wore out in the second half. I just feel good shooting the ball right now. Guys were just stepping up today. Doug hit some critical free throws, Mike hit some big free throws, and Jack gives us some big minutes and energy.

On how Iowa regrouped after losing a nine point lead and not handling the press.

"We've been through so much this year and the last couple of years. We knew we had to come out and win this game today and left everything on the floor. We had tons of people step up today. Mike Henderson had a career high 17 points and Doug Thomas with 11 rebounds and two key free throws. Of course, you have to have a little luck in there. Alan Anderson is the best free throw shooter in the Big Ten and he missed his last four free throws, I think it was.

On what kind of statement this win makes to the NCAA selection committee.

"We're not worried about that right now. We are worried about Wisconsin or Ohio State, whichever one we get. We want to win the Big Ten Tournament and that's all we care about right now. It's out of our hands, but if we get two more wins they can't keep us out."

Mike Henderson

Talk about both teams you have a chance to play against tomorrow.

Well, both teams are coached really good. Wisconsin plays amazing defense and knows how to work the ball in and out. Ohio State likes a perimeter game. Either way we have to come ready to work.

Are we seeing the blossoming of the true Mike Henderson?

Well, I do not know about that. I just feel really good out there right now and am driving hard. The ball is going in the basket and we are winning. That is the big thing, WE are winning.

Did you see openings in their half-court, traditional pressure defense?

Honestly, I just took what I had. When they gave me the lane and it was open, you have to take it. This is the Big Ten, if you cannot drive and make it, you will lose. We played well as a team and got a win.

Talk about the last time you were in a key situation with big free throws.

It has been since high school, I think in the state tournament I had some big ones and made them. Luckily, I did it again today. We won the game and I was just happy to be a part of it.

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