Opening: This is obviously a huge win for us. We needed it. We needed to rebound after our Saturday performance. I guess that's the thing that I appreciate about our guys. They've really got great resolve, resiliency to them. They know how to respond after a tough setback. The staff really worked hard at trying to get them to forget as early as Saturday night, to be honest with you, to forget about what happened Saturday afternoon. The seniors then did the rest of making sure the team was ready to go. It was really a good, solid performance out of everybody that played tonight.
The turning point in the game had to be the 14-0 run to start the second half.
We really did a good job in the first half of controlling things. We had a good start to the game. We practiced that this week, a four-minute game to emulate the start and then a four-minute game to emulate the start of the second half. The last two games, we've had just awful starts to the second half. You don't want that trend. Other than the last four minutes of each half, the first four minutes are awful crucial because that's when you're trying to establish who you are in the game. We did that in the first half. We got a double-digit lead then our bench got really careless, nit just with the ball but with shot selection, defensive assignments. That hurt us late in the first half. They got it back to a one-possession game and it's their ball coming out to start the second half. Most of the adjustments at halftime were very subtle. It was really just challenging our guys that the start of the second half was the key to the game. To their credit, they had tremendous run.
Can you talk about Hansen, especially against Killingsworth?
Well, Erek knows that he didn't have the best of games against Paul Davis. He's going through a very difficult stretch here – Paul Davis, Killingsworth, Terence Dials, Kiefer at Purdue, Sims with Michigan. This is an incredible run he's going through playing against centers. He's a senior. He's playing with great urgency. He's playing with great confidence. I know he was very upset with the way he played on Saturday at Michigan State. To his credit, he came back and did a lot of positive things. He had six blocks and three of them were against guards. It wasn't just blocking Killingsworth. He really made Killingsworth get a little frustrated. That's hard to do because Marco is a tremendous player. There are not a lot of people that have held to him to 10 and six. And it wasn't just Erek. Our guards did a good job of the people that we wanted them to come off from, Mikey in particular. And Doug, Doug came in, especially in the first half and really gave us good defensive minutes against Marco.
Can you talk about how you handled their press?
Yeah, not very good to begin with. We had Erek taking it out once. We started throwing the ball all over the place. Then, we settled down. We got it to 17. They got it to inside 10. It could have been panic time. Our seniors did a nice job of just getting us to settle down. And then you've got to make free throws. To the guys' credit, they really did a nice job of making those free throws.
Steve, you talked earlier this week about how critical of a four-game stretch this is. How happy are you with them coming out with the energy your guys had tonight?
Well, we've always had that. We had that at Michigan State. We might not have had the same step in our legs with what happened (against Minnesota) and then an early turnaround game and travel. But this team has always played with great energy. That's why they're a lot of fun to coach. I just like the growth. This was a big game because it ties us with Indiana, and it gives us our forth win against a Top 25 team. We've played seven times against Top 25 teams and we're playing an eighth game coming up Saturday. If we're fortunate enough to win that, having five wins against Top 25 teams by February, that's pretty special. You can't take that away. That bodes well when we look at post season. It would get us to 5-2 in the league and really try to get us some momentum as we go back out on the road.
Can you talk about how different Indiana is without Marshall Strickland?
Well, he's obviously a key player. Marshall is having a good year. He's very consistent. He shoots the ball well. He runs the team very, very well. We didn't even talk about it to start the game. The guys did a very good job of handling that. We know we've been on the other end. We were without Jeff for four games and we've had a couple of years here of not being full-force. Our guys really learned from our own experiences and it didn't matter who was playing for them. We knew we had a job to do tonight.
Do you stress defending your home court to the guys?
Oh, there's no question. They've got a goal. It's a lofty goal. There has yet to be an (Iowa) team go undefeated in (Carver). It's a special goal. It's a tough goal. And if you look at the teams that are coming here, it's a very lofty goal. We know that. But we have 12 home wins. That's the most home wins of anybody in the league right now. It's starting to become a little bit tougher of a place to play. The students were incredible. The fan base was incredible wearing gold. It was a marketing deal, but the Gold Rush was tremendous. But that ought to be the way that it's painted every game. The students were tremendous. And the whole fan base is getting behind our defense. The late clock stuff, you don't see that happening across the country where the fans are getting more excited about the defense. They've seen so many shots missed at the offensive end, (laughter) that the defense is what they get excited about.
GOLD RUSH: The Iowa fans showed up in the spirit of the promotion with a good portion of the crowd showing up in gold. Probably about 4,000 seats remained empty for the Tuesday night ESPN affair, but the folks that showed up voiced their support.
The student section came out in full force on Tuesday. It appeared that between 2,500-3,000 students poured into the seats with almost all dressed in gold. Four young men painted their torsos gold and each took a letter in spelling I-O-W-A. They orchestrated a creative Marco Polo chant for Indiana star Marco Killingsworth.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Iowa Center Erek Hansen grabbed the ball on the left wing, dribbled into the lane passed Killingsworth, rose up and threw it down with two hands sending the crowd into a frenzy. A close runner-up came a few minutes later when Hansen sneaked in from the weak side to slam home an ally-oop pass from Jeff Horner.
DISAPPOINTED DAVIS: Indiana Coach Mike Davis lost his cool with a few of his players and also barked at the officials for much of the night. At one point, Davis used almost an entire timeout screaming at senior guard Lewis Monroe.
In the second half, Davis jawed at Killingsworth, who had to be restrained by assistant coach Sidney Green. Davis sat the senior for a stretch, opting for freshman Ben Allen from Australia.
After burning his last timeout with just over 6 minutes remaining on the clock to yell at referee Ed Hightower, the official tagged the coach with a technical shortly after play resumed.
DECISIVE RUN: Iowa scored the first 14 points of the second half to take a 44-27 lead with 15:35 remaining in the game. Horner and Greg Brunner each knocked in big threes in the spurt and Hansen swatted away a pair of shots. The Hoosiers came no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
TIP-INS: Steve Lavin and Brent Musberger called the game for ESPN with Erin Andrews as the sideline reporter. Yes, most of the males in Carver got sore necks watching Andrews walk around the joint…Iowa shot 1 for 8 on first-half 3-pointers with Horner missing all five of his attempts…Indiana starter A.J. Ratliff, who considered the Hawkeyes during his recruitment, was saddled with foul trouble all night, playing just 9 minutes before fouling out with 12:30 to play in the contest…Indiana scored the fewest points it has in a game this season. Its previous low was 62.