Miller: Not Just Any Old Win?

Greg Brunner led Iowa with 17 points and 12 rebounds in their 67-64 win over Kentucky in the semi-final round of the Guardians Classic on Monday night. Was this just more than another Steve Alford November upset? Jon Miller was in attendance on Monday night and offers his thoughts on the matter...

Maybe it was November fate.

Maybe it was just good defense.

Or maybe it was just the better team winning the game.

No matter what you call it, Iowa's 67-63 win over Kentucky on Monday night was something this team can build upon.

Tubby Smith's Kentucky teams typically get better as the year goes along. They might be the gift that keeps on giving for Iowa as it relates to the RPI index at season's end.

Is this a great Kentucky team? Were they worthy of their top 15 rating?

The answer is no, or at least, not yet.

They have talented players, and the fact that Iowa held guard Rajon Rondo scoreless with under six minutes remaining is very impressive.

The fact that Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska were a combined 3-19 from the floor in a winning effort against Kentucky is a big thing.

The fact that Iowa held Kentucky to zero fast break points is a huge thing.

But this team has won before in November.

The running joke on Iowa's campus is that Steve Alford and Kirk Ferentz have one thing in common; they both peak in November.

All jokes aside, this Iowa team gutted out a game against one of the most respected teams in the nation. They shut down on of the most promising freshmen in the nation and they did what they had to do late in the game.

Mike Henderson, the likely lynch pin to a very successful season, came up big on offense and defense.

Tony Freeman played just 16 minutes, but his strip on Kentucky's last shot will be hard to surpass as a career highlight. Erek Hansen's four blocked shots in the second half, including a rejection of a dunk attempt, will be sweet for years to come.

Greg Brunner stepped up with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He had several offensive rebounds in the second half, especially early, that set the tone for Iowa's win.

He and Henderson were the lone stars on offense.

But in this game, defense was the key.

Iowa picked up several key stops down the way; some of them they created and some of them that Kentucky led them in to.

A popular sentiment on the message boards will be that this team had done well in November before, only to cave in under the weight of a challenging Big Ten season. ‘Don't let the hype overtake you' will be a rally cry.

But don't allow yourself to sleep on this year's team. It's a different year, it's a different attitude and it's a different team.

On Monday night in Kansas City, when the chips were down against one of the most storied programs in NCAA history, the Iowa Hawkeyes were the team that stood up and was counted.

That has to count for something other than another Steve Alford win in November.

Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner will see to that.

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