1st Place Hawks Top Michigan by 28!

On the recently aired ESPN program featuring Iowa's basketball team, Steve Alford told his team in the locker room during the Illinois game that someday someone was going to write a book about this year's team. After watching league leading Iowa obliterate #20 Michigan, its sixth win against a ranked foe this season, Alford is sounding prophetic.

Iowa's inexplicable 94-66 over a Michigan team that entered the game tied for the Big Ten lead as well as having perhaps the best overall talent in the Big Ten conference was one of its finest moments in the history of Carver Hawkeye Arena in what had to be one of the ten most important games played there.

If you think that is hyperbole, chew on this; entering the game, this was the latest date in a season since that Iowa had had a share of the Big Ten lead since 1982. That pretty much says everything you need to know right then and there.

Things didn't start out so pretty for Iowa, as they turned the ball over on their first three possessions and fell into an early hole at 14-6. Mike Henderson was Iowa's first Johnny on the Spot, hitting back to back three's to get Iowa to within four at 16-12.

Michigan led 29-28 with 3:52 remaining in the first half when Greg Brown set a screen that sent Jeff Horner to the deck with a bloody nose and also had Steve Alford screaming for blood from the officials.

Iowa would outscore Michigan 66-37 the rest of the way, including rallying to take an eight-point halftime lead. Jeff Horner made a pair of three's in the first half and Tony Freeman hit a pair himself, chipping in 10 first half points.

It was Adam Haluska's turn in the second half as he hit a trio of three's in a span of 4:44, including one bomb that turned into a four-point play.

Alex Thompson also provided a spark off the bench by playing solid defense and showing flashes of why the Iowa coaching staff is so high on him in practice. Thompson twice drove around Michigan defenders for very, very pretty scores.

For the fourth straight game, Iowa's opponent entered the game as the league's best three-point shooting team and for the fourth straight game, they exit off of that perch; Michigan was just 6-22 from three on the game. Iowa was 13-19 from three and continued its torrid shooting pace; Iowa has shot over 60 percent from the floor in four of its last five halves of action going back to the second half of last week's home win against Ohio State.

Michigan had 16 turnovers to Iowa's 18, but Iowa exacted more points from turnovers, outscoring Michigan 29-17 in that department.

Michigan entered the game as one of the better free-throw shooting teams in the nation but made just 16 of 28 from the line. Iowa was 17 of 24 from the charity stripe; Iowa committed 22 fouls to Michigan's 21.

Iowa outrebounded Michigan 34-27 and outscored Michigan 26-15, easily the team's best effort from its bench all season.

In the end, what was built as perhaps the most important game of the Steve Alford era saw his veteran team respond in spades, playing better than anyone thought it could against yet another ranked team and a club that had won five straight games.

It's difficult to believe that this is the same team that lost to Michigan State by 30-points just two weeks ago, that they could beat Michigan by nearly the same margin. Michigan beat Michigan State by three-points in recent weeks.

There was a group of players from Kentucky that stuck with the program amidst their NCAA sanction turmoil from several years ago. Those players, later nicknamed 'The Unforgetables', gutted it out, gave it their all and they left the school among the most cherished players in Kentucky's rich lore.

One almost gets a sense that we are witnessing something similar in Iowa City.

NOTE: Over the course of its last 29 games, including the final six from last year, Iowa is 23-6 overall and 11-3 against Big Ten competition….this was Iowa's third win against a ranked opponent in the last 11 days and its fourth consecutive win in Big Ten play…Iowa's seven league wins ties for the second most wins in one Big Ten season under Steve Alford. 9-7 is the high water mark in league during Alford's tenure…Iowa does not play Michigan again this year.

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