Anyone wondering if Iowa coach Steve Alford had lost control of his basketball team got their answer on Saturday morning as All-American Reggie Evans did not play due to recent poor classroom attendance.
"I tip my hat to Steve Alford," said Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien . "There was absolutely no question about the importance of this game to Iowa, and for him to demonstrate, I think, courage for standing by what he thinks is the right thing by not playing his best player is a credit to him. I guarantee you that was not an easy decision to make. That helped us tremendously."
Luke Recker was also on the bench when the game started, coming in at about the 5 minute mark. Recker opened a gash over his right eye in the second half and had to be taken to the locker room, where he received 10 stitches. Luke only played 18 minutes and totaled just 3 points.
In fact, Alford overhauled his lineup completely and did not start any of his regulars, going with a group that had a combined nine previous starts this season.
Little used Rod Thompson was a crowd pleaser as he got the Hawks started in the first half and had a team leading 15 points for the game. Brody Boyd chipped in 11 points for Iowa while Duez Henderson netted ten.
When Sean Sonderleiter fouled out of the game in the second half, the Hawks became a donut team, as they had no center. Center Jared Reiner missed his second straight game due to a badly sprained ankle.
Superior guard play won the game for Ohio State as they played through all the emotion at Carver Hawkeye before the "100 years of Iowa Basketball" All Century Team. The twenty members were honored at halftime.
"Our guys hung in with the emotion of this game. The place was rocking," O'Brien said. "Certainly they were playing with their motors going. I thought our guys did well just being down by four at the half."
Ohio State was led by Brian Brown with 14 points, while Brent Darby had 13 points and Sean Connolly had ten.
But make no mistake, the importance of today was not a basketball game. "I hope the message is simple and clear," Alford said. "If you are going to play in our Iowa basketball program, you are a student before an athlete. I thought that message had to be sent. I messed up by not sending it earlier."
Today's game marked the 14th consecutive game that the Hawks have failed to cover the Las Vegas line. But bookmakers beware, the Hawks are back playing TEAM basketball.
Steve Alford has sent the message and the victories will follow!
As radio color man Bobby Hansen, a former Hawkeye and a 9 year NBA veteran, noted after the game "The Hawks should build on the effort displayed today!"
The road back to winning doesn't get any easier for the Hawks as they travel to Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday to face the surprising Badgers. Wisconsin, currently in third place in the Big Ten, is on a roll, having won their last four games. Since the last two games were wins at Indiana and at Minnesota, The Kohl Center will provide a welcome homecoming for the Badgers.
The Hawkeyes may need a victory in one of their last three games to avoid the CELLAR in the Big Ten. That proposition would have been laughable after the big December road victories in Columbia, Missouri and Ames.