Hoops Blog: Badgers Snap Iowa Streak

HN.com Publisher Jon Miller offers his thoughts on Iowa basketball with his Hawkeye Hoops blog for the 2006-2007 season. This entry is from Iowa's game at Wisconsin, a game where Iowa lost 74-62. After leading by four at the break, Iowa seemed to hit a wall after playing three if its last four games on the road...

Iowa at Wisconsin:

The only debate in the Big Ten right now is who is better; Wisconsin or Ohio State?

Just when you think the Buckeyes are set to assume that role, they show they are mortal, such as Saturday at home against Purdue. They still won, but it wasn't easy.

The same was the case in Madison, as the Hawkeyes held a four-point halftime lead and gave the Badgers all they wanted for roughly 35 minutes of the contest. But in the end, Iowa ran out of gas against Wisconsin, who has a 20-game home court winning streak. Iowa is not 2-6 all time in the Kohl Center, a building that Wisconsin rarely loses in.

It's hard to be critical of Iowa in this game, in light of all it has done in recent weeks. Wisconsin is the #4 rated team in the nation for a reason, and that's because they execute their sets and system as good as any team in the nation. They are the most consistent team over a 40-minute span of any I have seen this season.

They are not flashy, save Alando Tucker (21 points on Saturday). They just execute. They do what they want to do well, and they force you to match their consistency. The problem is, few teams can do that, especially in Madison. So it's not shame losing to Wisconsin.

What you hope Iowa takes away from this game is that they are knocking on the Badgers door. This might sound masochistic, but I wouldn't mind Iowa getting the Badgers again in the Big Ten tournament.

If Iowa winds up with the four or five seed in the Big Ten, and those two seeds play one another on the Friday of the Big Ten tournament, and should they win that game, they would play the #1 seed. If that is Wisconsin, I wouldn't feel as bad about that matchup as I would an Iowa-Ohio State matchup.

Iowa played a good first half considering the opponent and the location; that's 120 consecutive minutes of good play for Iowa, or three full games. The second half was another story. Iowa looked like it hit a wall.

Adam Haluska looked a bit fatigued, Tyler Smith had a finger taped on his shooting hand, Mike Henderson continued to make mental mistakes and Iowa just didn't have many answers.

That can happen during the course of a season, especially when three of your last four games are on the road. Iowa emerged with a 3-1 record during that stretch, including two road wins. That's not bad at all. They fell to 6-5 with the loss, but Illinois fell at Indiana, which means Iowa is still in fourth place all by itself.

The Hawks return home on Wednesday to face Northwestern, then its back on the road at Michigan State. The Spartans are beatable, and Iowa beat them in the Big Ten opener this year. MSU didn't break the 40-point barrier at Purdue this week, and had just 12 points in the second half of that game. But Iowa has not won in East Lansing since back in the early 1990's, the come from behind overtime win in their first game after the tragic death of Chris Street. That's a long time.

Then its back home against Purdue, a team that is starting to play the way I thought they could play before the year began. Landry and Teague will give Iowa all its wants.

Following that game, its another road game at Penn State, who fell to Northwestern today. Then the regular season finale against Illinois in Carver Hawkeye arena.

A 4-1 finish gets Iowa to 10-6 in league play, which gets them into the NCAA tournament conversation. Anything less than that will make it very hard on Iowa's NCAA chances.

Being that I didn't expect an NCAA bid this year, its at least encouraging that we can still talk about it being a possibility.

I like the way this team plays; they play hard and with heart.

They need a break, and a home game will help them. Here's to hoping they can catch a second wind heading into this most crucial year end stretch.

There is no need to hang their heads after losing at Wisconsin.

Iowa at Minnesota: Adam Haluska scores 34 points in this game as Iowa beats the Gophers in the Barn 91-78.

When he had 28 without about 6 minutes to go, I posted on the message boards that he was having one of the best games I have ever seen an Iowa Hawkeye have. Sure, some players have scored more points than Haluska did on the night, but almost every one of his six three-point baskets came when Minnesota was making a run at Iowa. His last, 35 feet from the basket, came with the shot clock winding down.

He had 8 assists in the game, and just one turnover. That turnover didn't come until there was about one minute left in the game.

All of this coming days after Haluska was named the National Player of the Week by the Sporting News.

Haluska had 33 points against Indiana on Saturday, so that makes it back to back 30+ point outings for the senior from Carroll. When was the last time an Iowa player went for more than 30 points in consecutive games? I am just guessing here, but I am guessing it has to be somewhere in the Ralph Miller Six Pack era in 1970.

How about 91 points for the Hawkeyes, on the road, at The Barn, no less. That just doesn't happen very often. This game was played at a frenetic pace throughout, and reminded me of the free-wheeling 1980's era of Big Ten basketball.

Iowa shot just under 60% from the floor for the game, Minnesota over 63%. Iowa made 10 of 16 three's, however, and 17 of 21 free throws.

Tyler Smith had 19 for Iowa, Tony Freeman 13 and Mike Henderson 11.

Iowa had just five turnovers in the first 35 minutes of the game, but ended with nine.

It was a very impressive road win for Iowa, a must win for Iowa, if it has any chance at an at-large NCAA bid. The Hawks took care of business, something that has not always been the case in recent years.

With the win, Iowa improved to 6-4 in the Big Ten, 14-10 overall. The Hawks remain in fourth place in the Big Ten, just one half game behind Indiana who sits at 6-3 and one-half game ahead of Illinois.

Up next for Iowa is a road game at Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes will ride a three-game winning streak into that contest, which includes back to back road wins. The odds will be long and will be in favor of Wisconsin. But the last time these two teams played, Iowa made just 28.1% of their shots….you have to think that after a shooting night like Wednesday, the Hawks will fare better than that.

No matter what happens on Saturday, savor Wednesday's performance by Adam Haluska, because those games done come along very often. Again, it's the best I have ever seen from a Hawkeye in a Big Ten or NCAA tournament game, and that includes BJ Armstrong's 30+ point outbursts in a couple of NCAA games back in the late 1980's.

Iowa at Michigan:

Iowa beats Michigan. Iowa wins on the road. Iowa goes on a 20-1 run, holding its opponent without a field goal for more than eight minutes. Iowa dominates the backboard.

If someone told me those things before Iowa tipped off against Michigan on Wednesday night, I would have looked at them as if they hit the silly juice a bit too early. No, Michigan is not a great team. They are not a well-coached team, though after this game, the direction of their future will probably include a better coach than Tommy Amaker. (As a side note, Steve Alford's Hoosiers ended Amaker's college career in 1987 with a win in the NCAA tournament. Alford's Hawkeyes likely just sealed Amaker's fate as Michigan's head coach.)

But Iowa did those things I listed above, and they beat Michigan 69-62. Far better Iowa teams have gone to Michigan and returned home empty handed. Iowa had just three wins in Chrysler Arena since 1982, prior to Wednesday night's win.

This isn't a great Iowa team, but I have to be honest; they showed some moxie tonight, and I hope that a few players took some steps forward for the rest of the year.

Tony Freeman ran the point guard position for Iowa for most of the second half. Freeman logged 34 minutes to Mike Henderson's 12. Freeman scored 14 points, including two huge baskets late in the game. He made good decisions with the basketball…no, make that great decisions with the basketball, late in the game. He had 7 assists to two turnovers. He played like an NFL cornerback; he had a short memory. He is a fearless competitor, but that hasn't always translated into mature play. Then again, he is a sophomore. It was easily his best performance as a Hawkeye.

Seth Gorney also turned in a very good game, a smart game and a physical game. He had 6 point and 7 boards and his big body held Courtney Sims in check. Sims finished with 29 points, but Gorney made things hard on Sims in the second half.

Iowa's defense also came to bear in the second half. Michigan's leading scorer, Dion Harris, didn't score a point until 4:24 to play, and he finished with just one point on a free throw. Iowa was down by 12 points in the second half, and was down by double digits for close to half the game. It was 28-14 with under 5 minutes to play in the first half before a Tony Freeman three, and Iowa trailed by 11 at the break.

I will be honest; I left Iowa for dead in this game at intermission. I still watched, and I had to force myself back to the couch to watch the second half after watching Iowa go 8-30 from the floor. That left them in a hideous 24-87 slump when you combine the first half of the Michigan game and the Wisconsin game.

But Iowa's 20-1 run in the second half, where Michigan did not hit a field goal for more than 8 minutes, saw the Hawkeyes build an 8-point lead of their own in the second half. Michigan cut it to 63-62 with under a minute to go, but Freeman hit a driving layup and he made the free-throw for an old fashioned three-point play.

Justin Johnson was active, and was involved in some key loose balls.

Tyler Smith led Iowa with 22 points and Adam Haluska had 17. Haluska also had 10 rebounds.

But make no mistake about it; Tony Freeman is your player of the game, and it would not surprise me if he started against Indiana. Mike Henderson is just not with it mentally this year, and Freeman deserves such a reward, if the coaches feel he can handle it.

The Indiana Hoosiers come to town, fresh off of their home win against Indiana. Freeman's dad played for Indiana.

Iowa came into the game 0-6 on the road this year. The win levels their Big Ten record at 4-4 at the midway point of the season. Their overall record is 12-10.

If Iowa can win four more games between now and their last game in the Big Ten tournament, they are guaranteed no worse than a .500 record this season. That would make them eligible for the N.I.T.

That's not the post season acronym that Iowa fans want to read about, nor is it the goal of the Iowa coaching staff on an annual basis. But its an inexperienced team, we knew that coming in, and we knew that things would not be easy, and they have not.

Iowa still has winnable games at Minnesota and Penn State, in addition to home games against Northwestern and Purdue on its schedule. None of those are gimmees for Iowa; no such games remain on its schedule.

Just when you think you have this team figured out, or just when you give up much hope, as I did in the first half tonight, they do something that pulls you back in. That has to count for something.

Iowa vs Wisconsin:

The Wisconsin Badgers are a very good basketball team, and they are exceptionally well coached. On a day when they were not at their best, and I think Iowa's defense certainly had something to do with that, they still exerted their will on the Hawks, and they snapped Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena record Big Ten home court winning streak at 12 games; they won 57-46.

They play exception defense in addition to being one of the most tactically sound offensive teams in the nation. Iowa shot 28 percent from the floor for the game.

Some of the other key numbers that typically decide a game went in Iowa's favor; Iowa had just nine turnovers to Wisconsin's 12. Iowa had 17 offensive rebounds to Wisconsin's six and enjoyed a +7 advantage on the glass overall. Both teams got to the free throw line 18 times, with Wisconsin making just 10 of their attempts to Iowa's 12.

But the Hawkeyes were just 2-14 from the free throw line while Wisconsin was 7 of 19.

The biggest stats that jump off the page is that Iowa's Adam Haluska made just three of his 19 field goal attempts. 3 of 18. Tyler Smith was 3 of 17.

When you have been a team that has depended on the 21 a night from Haluska and the 15 per night from Smith, and you are playing the #2 ranked team in the nation, that's going to get you.

Iowa did a great job of defending every single Badger player, save Alando Tucker, who might be this year's Naismith Award winner; Tucker scored 27 points on 11 of 14 shooting. The rest of the Badgers were just 9 of 29 from the floor. Iowa just didn't have a defensive answer for Tucker, but then again, not many teams do.

Iowa also continued a familiar trend in this game, going nearly 10 minutes without scoring a field goal in the first half. In each of their four league losses this year, the Hawks have had similarly long scoring droughts. Such is the case when you have but two proven scorers in Haluska and Smith.

Up next for Iowa is a trip to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines. Chrysler Arena has never been a welcoming venue for Iowa, and Michigan's athleticism poses some challenging mismatches for the Hawkeyes, who fell to 11-10 (3-4) with the loss.

Iowa at Ohio State:

Well, on my radio show this week, I said that if Iowa kept it inside of 15 points against #7 Ohio State, that it would be some sort of moral victory.

Iowa didn't do that, losing by 19, 82-63 on the road.

Iowa fell to 2-3 in league play with the loss, 10-9 overall on the season. In its three road losses, there has been some common refrains. In each of those losses, Iowa has had one half of action where it turned the ball over at least 10 times. It was 11 in the second half against Illinois, and the Illini went on a 19-3 run, turning a 6-point Iowa lead into 10-point deficit. Against the Hoosiers, Iowa had 10 first half turnovers and was held without a field goal for nearly eight and a half minutes, and it trailed by 12 at intermission. In the first half against Ohio State, Iowa had 11 turnovers that were converted into 17 Buckeye points. OSU had a 9-0 run to start the game off four of those 11 turnovers.

Yet Iowa was still in the game with 11:04 remaining in the game when Tyler Smith hit a three-point shot, making it 54-50 Ohio State. That's when the Buckeyes went on a 21-2 run over the course of the next 5:29. Iowa only had two turnovers in the second half. It was just the Buckeyes being a lot better than Iowa, and being one of the best teams in the nation.

Tyler Smith was 0-5 in the first half and didn't score a point. He poured in 21 second half points to pace the Hawkeyes. Adam Haluska scored 15 points, yet no other Hawkeye reached double figures, also a common Iowa thread during Big Ten play.

OSU superstar center Greg Oden had the best game of his young college career, and it will be a brief college career, as he will be the #1 pick in next year's NBA draft. He scored 29 points on 12 of 13 shooting…..no, that is not a misprint. At least half of his field goals, if not more than that, were dunks. He also hit all five of his free throw attempts, left handed. He is a natural right hander, and is still recovering from his wrist injury he suffered last summer.

Much like their game against Indiana, many of the stat indicators pointed to a closer game than the final score. Both teams had 27 boards (Iowa was +3 on the offensive glass), Iowa had just two more turnovers than did the Buckeyes and Iowa made one more three-point shot. Iowa only scored 8 points on those 11 OSU turnovers, while OSU scored 21 off of Iowa's 13 giveaways.

The free throw line was where Ohio State separated itself; they were 14 of 17 while Iowa was 2 of 6. Iowa made 48% of its field goal attempts, but Ohio State made 58% of its shots.

Iowa returns home this week to host Penn State in a must-win contest. Why is it a must win? Because after that game, they play at home against Wisconsin, a team that beat Ohio State and was ahead by double digits for much of the second half in that game, then they travel to Michigan. The Wolverines are actually beginning to resemble what looks like a good basketball team; we all know they have a lot of talent.

Then its on the road to Minnesota before hosting Indiana.

That's the kind of year it's going to be for the Hawks this year.

Oh yeah, about the PSU game being a must win; if Iowa wants to be at .500 or better, which it needs to be to be eligible for the N.I.T., beating Penn State at home is mandatory.

Iowa at Indiana:

The Hawks dug themselves another deep hole in the first half of a Big Ten road game, much as they did last week against Illinois. The problem for Iowa this week is that Indiana is a much better team than is Illinois, especially on the defensive end of the court.

This Indiana club is really starting to hit its stride after getting off to a rocky start in its first season under Kelvin Sampson.

In the first half, Iowa committed 10 turnovers, and made just seven field goals. It went nearly eight and a half minutes without hitting a field goal. The good thing for Iowa is that Indiana wasn't lights out in the first half, either, as it had eight turnovers and just 29 points at the break. But it was 29-17 Hoosiers at half time.

Senior point guard Mike Henderson had four first half turnovers and really looked out of sorts and uncomfortable. Henderson has been a huge factor this year; first, for the games he missed due to a broken finger and the stiffness that ensued in his right wrist, and since he returned, he has not looked near 100 percent.

The Hoosiers jumped on Iowa right out of the gates to start the second half, expanding their lead up to 16 points. Indiana led by more than 20 points late in the game, but like they did against Illinois, the Hawkeyes fought back and cut the lead to eight points with roughly a minute to go. The final score read 71-64, but the game wasn't nearly that close, or wasn't played that way for the majority of the contest.

The biggest positive from this game is that Iowa didn't quit, and it didn't leave the arena feeling beaten as badly as they were in actuality. Indiana beat Michigan State by 20 points after it lost in Iowa City, and the Hoosiers gave Ohio State all that the Buckeyes wanted in their Big Ten opener.

They are clearly the third best team in the league, and they appear to be headed towards a lock bid in the NCAA tournament, along with Wisconsin and Ohio State.

The bad news for Iowa is that it has to play at Ohio State on Saturday afternoon, and that one could get ugly.

Adam Haluska paced Iowa with 21 points, most of them coming in the second half. Tyler Smith had 17 and Seth Gorney scored 12 after getting the first six points of the game for Iowa.

Iowa actually outrebounded Indiana 33-32, and had 14 turnovers compared to 13 for the Hoosiers. Iowa hit 12 of 16 free throws and Indiana hit 13 of 17. In the end, at least on the scoreboard, the difference was Indiana's 8 three-point baskets compared to Iowa's two; that's six extra points and Indiana won by 7. Both teams hit 25 field goal attempts.

Life on the road in this league will provide games like what we saw tonight. Iowa just has to learn how to put two halves of good basketball together if it hopes to find success in opposing arenas.

Wednesday, January 10th, 2006: Iowa at Illinois:

Pardon me for a second. I need to take a few breaths so that I maintain some semblance of perspective, as the Iowa-Illinois basketball rivalry tends to get me worked up. Especially after seeing a second half collapse like the one we witnessed tonight, followed by a valiant comeback, followed by a final and fatal turnover on a night that was marked by 11 second half giveaways for Iowa….

Serenity now. Jon, you knew there would be nights like this during the course of the 2006-2007 season. So you saw one. Relax.

OK….does that feel better?

Not really.

Not when Iowa played a solid first half and took a 31-29 lead into the locker room.

Now, I know that such a slim lead doesn't guarantee a win, especially on the road in the Big Ten, especially in Assembly Hall in Champaign; Iowa has lost 18 of its last 19 games in that building.

I didn't expect Iowa to win the game prior to tip off, so the final score, in and of itself, is not surprising or disappointing.

But the way that Iowa played after the 13:44 mark of the second half was certainly disappointing, even if not totally surprising during a year where a lot of new faces wear the black and gold.

At the 13:44 mark of the second half, Iowa's Tyler Smith made a one on one move against Warren Carter of Illinois that was a thing of beauty. Smith attacked Carter from the left baseline, wheeled and soared above Carter and tossed in a pretty jump hook. That made the score 45-39 Iowa. From that point, Illinois went on a 20-3 run over the course of the next 6:24.

That run was aided by numerous Iowa turnovers (the Hawks had just 5 of those in the first half, but they had 11 in the second half) where Iowa looked like a mostly inexperienced team that it is….except that senior Adam Haluska was as guilty as anyone, and he forced the action on numerous trips down the court, trips that resulted in Illinois run out dunks on the other end of the court. Illinois scored 25 points off of 16 Iowa turnovers.

So with 7:20 to go, Illinois led 58-48, and Assembly Hall was going ballistic.

The Illini led 67-54 with 4:04 to play. Iowa whittled the lead down to 68-62 with 1:25 to go. Illinois guard Richard McBride then hit a three to give Illinois a 71-62 lead with :57 seconds to go.

Haluska hit a three with :32 to go to pull Iowa to within one at 71-70…eight unanswered points for Iowa in 25 seconds…shades of Iowa-Illinois 1987.

During that game, which was also at Champaign, Iowa trailed by 22 with just under 16 minutes remaining and wound up winning the contest in overtime.

But this was not to be. Illinois marched down and hit two free throws, leading 73-70 with :32 second to play. But Iowa could not find Haluska, and in fact, Iowa could not fire a shot at Mike Henderson turned the ball over with :18 seconds to play. Brian Randle hit the second of two free throws, giving Illinois a 74-70 lead that would wind up being the final score after Iowa failed to attempt a shot until Tyler Smith's three pointer with :06 seconds to play was wide of its mark.

I will be honest…if this blog seems choppy, it's because I started writing it when Illinois was getting run-out dunks every possession with about 4 minutes to go. I was in a foul mood at that time, even though I came to calm down after reminding myself that this was a Big Ten road game involving an Iowa team that I did not expect to win more than seven games in league play, at the most intimidating venue in the Big Ten.

The way that Iowa fought back is certainly encouraging, and it will give the coaches some good teaching opportunities. It should also give Iowa some confidence the next time it finds itself in a hole on the road.

Were it not for that hideous 6:24 of play midway through the second half, this was Iowa's basketball game. That is what is disappointing, now that it's over and the smoke has cleared.

Adam Haluska led Iowa with 25 points, including 12 of 13 free throws. Haluska's lone miss was intentional; Iowa got the rebound and wound up hitting a three-point shot, giving it a four-point play. Haluska was twice fouled on three-point attempts and nailed all of those free throws. Haluska was 5-14 from the floor and had four crucial turnovers, in addition to some very ugly misses that were simply poor shooting decisions; he was frustrated and let that spill over into his offense.

Tyler Smith had 12 for Iowa while Justin Johnson chipped in 11, including three of three from three point range.

Iowa was 21 of 27 from the line, making more free throws than Illinois attempted (19), so that is something to build on. 16 turnovers isn't the end of the world, its just that Iowa had 11 of them in the second half; that you cannot afford to have. Iowa was -5 on the glass, and just -4 on the offensive glass; again, an aspect that has plagued Iowa this season and an area where Iowa showed improvement.

In the end, Iowa let a golden opportunity for a road win slip away….and in such a fashion that made it more painful than I thought it was going to be. Some might call that a moral victory, but I am not in the mood right now ;)

Thursday, January 4th, 2006: Iowa vs #24 Michigan State The Iowa Hawkeyes helped Steve Alford earn his 300th win as a head coach by beating Michigan State 62-60 in the Big Ten opener at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night. The game was broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

This game could serve as a springboard for this year's team, in my opinion. No, I don't think its going to make it to the NCAA tournament. That is not what I am talking about. I never felt this team would make it to the big dance; rather, I believed it was a 13 to 15 win squad.

The springboard I am thinking of is that Iowa now has some positive late game experience with which to draw off of, as opposed to the negative, late game collapse memories that it had coming into tonight.

Now at 9-6 on the year, that record includes two games where Iowa led by double digits late into the second half. The first at Arizona and the second at home against Northern Iowa, Iowa's lone home loss in its last 27 games in Iowa City. If Iowa would have held on to win both of those games, which certainly isn't a stretch with the kind of leads we are talking about here, it would be 11-4. Talk of NCAA tournaments wouldn't be so outlandish as they would be right now. But no one is talking or thinking about such things, outside of the Hawkeye locker room, that is.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is one of the two best in the Big Ten. He has taken his Spartans to the final four in four of the last eight seasons. This year's team carried a record of 13-2 into tonight's game, and a #24 national ranking.

It's probably one of the most inexperienced and inferior teams he has had since taking over the program, but it's still a Tom Izzo led Michigan State team. It's a team that beat Texas this year, and a team that beat Bradley by 29 points back in early December.

That was the same time frame when Iowa lost at Drake by 16 points, and I believe Bradley was a better team than Drake before its leading scorer, Jeremy Crouch, recently went down with a knee injury.

Such is the world of college basketball these days.

All this being said, Iowa nearly let this game slip away, too. It led the Spartans 46-33 with 11:35 to play in the game. Iowa led by 10 with 7:40 to play. Iowa led by 7 with 2:19 to play.

But with 29.6 seconds remaining, the Hawkeyes had the ball and a two-point lead.

That's when Mike Henderson was sent to the foul line. He missed the first free throw, hit the second, and Iowa led 60-57. Drew Neitzel's three-point shot was off the mark, a loose ball ensued and Iowa was awarded possession after a jump ball call with 6.0 seconds to play. Henderson would make both free throws, and he hit 5 of 6 down the stretch, clinching the game for Iowa. Neitzel made a three-pointer just shy of the buzzer that padded his scoring average, but meant nothing more.

So it wasn't exactly a work of art, and Alford and Company probably had to go through a few rolls of Tums before it was all over. But the Hawkeyes now have some positive experiences with which to draw on over the course of the next 15 games of the Big Ten regular season.

For the game, Iowa won 62-60. Michigan State has allowed just 54.9 points per game, with Iowa allowing 63.5 per contest. Iowa shot 43% and Michigan State shot 42%. Michigan State had been making 47% from the floor coming in, and allowing teams to make just 37% of their shots.

There are three significant areas of concern for me at this point of the year with regards to this year's Iowa team; 1) Getting to the free throw line, 2) limiting turnovers and 3) rebounding.

On Thursday, Iowa attempted 23 free throws and made 18 of them, which is an excellent job. Michigan State got to the line just 15 times. Coming into the game, MSU was one of the best teams in the league at getting to the line, attempting 22 free throws per game compared to just 16.7 per game for Iowa.

On Thursday, Iowa committed just 7 turnovers against Michigan State. That seems like it would have to be a typo, but its coming directly from the official statistics. Iowa has probably had a few games where it committed fewer than eight turnovers, but not many, and not against Michigan State. Michigan State had 12 turnovers, and outscored Iowa 9-7 in points off of turnovers.

That stat helped Iowa offset the rebounding problem it continues to have; MSU had 11 more rebounds than Iowa, including seven more on the offensive glass. That has been a problem all year long and will catch Iowa at some point.

Another quirky stat from this game is that neither team scored a point off of fast breaks.

Adam Haluska led Iowa in scoring with 16 points, but he was just 4-15 from the floor. Cyrus Tate had a huge night, his best as a Hawkeye, scoring 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting, and nine rebounds. Tyler Smith had 10 points and four assists.

Michigan State was led by Drew Neitzel, who scored 20 points, two above his season average. Most of them came in the second half, as he was clearly off his game in the first stanza, and coming off of the flu. As has been the case much of this year, no other Spartan scored in double figures.

This was a crucial game for Iowa to win. It was the first home game of the Big Ten schedule, and another chance to sell the program in front of its fan base that needs reasons to believe. That's not conjecture, that's just looking at the empty seats that have been in the arena this year. It was also important to get this win because of the schedule that Iowa plays in January. Three of Iowa's next four games are on the road at Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State. A home game against Minnesota is also in that mix. The game against the Gophers is a flat out must win for Iowa. Winning one of the games against Indiana and Illinois would be a bonus; Illinois isn't the world beating program it has been in recent years, and Indiana is still searching for its identity this season.

Game six is a home contest against Penn State, a team that has talent and a team that Iowa should be able to go ‘small' against and create mismatches for Haluska and Smith. After that, it's a home game against Wisconsin and then a road contest as Michigan to round out the month.

Beating the Badgers in Iowa City is probably too much to expect, and the game at Michigan is going to be difficult for this team to win; Chrysler Arena has been the toughest place for Iowa to win at over the course of the last 25 years.

If Iowa can get through that gauntlet at 4-4, which would be an accomplishment unto itself. A 3-5 mark wouldn't even be half bad.

I think something like that is possible as long as Iowa gets better play from senior point guard Mike Henderson. Iowa cannot afford for him to play like an underclassman. He needs to start making better decisions with the basketball, starting next Wednesday at Illinois.

We all know that he is capable of that, and if it starts happening, things should get interesting.

As I said back in November, it's going to be an up and down season for Iowa, one that sees a lot of close games. Part of that is due to general inexperience of the team, and part of that is due to the Big Ten being an average league after you get beyond Ohio State and Wisconsin.

But tonight is a night to enjoy a hard fought win in front of loud, if not sold out crown in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The people that were there came across loud and clear on the broadcast, and the Hawkeyes gave great effort on the floor, diving for loose balls and being the tougher minded team for most of the game.

Even when Tom Izzo isn't fielding one of his best teams, that has to count for something.

Friday, December 8th, 2006: Iowa vs. Iowa State

Prior to the game, on both this website and my radio show on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines, I said that I felt this was one of the most important games in Steve Alford's Iowa tenure. Not so much in comparing that statement against past big games, but what this game could do for the future.

If you have spent any time around the HawkeyeNation.com message boards since Iowa's loss to UNI earlier this week, you know that it hasn't been pretty. Fans have been expressing several opinions on the state of Iowa basketball, and most of them were not positive. The same can be said for the callers on my radio show.

With Iowa off to its worst start since 1974, the boo birds were out at an earlier date than they have ever been in Alford's tenure, and the season was not yet one-third complete. These are the reasons why I felt this game was important.

It was also another home game against an instate opponent and a bitter rival, a team from a school that has had many of the positive headlines over the course of the last eight months, as they have changed the faces of their major programs.

The last home game left fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.

In this game, on this night, the Hawkeyes came out with a solid plan; attack the paint with bigs, guards and whomever else they could get in there. Iowa wound up enjoying a considerable dominance of points in the paint as a result. Adam Haluska was very active tonight, as if he were seeing red. Well, he was seeing Cyclone red, the color he used to wear. There are no players on that ISU team that called Haluska teammate once upon a time, nor were there any coaches that he used to play for along their bench.

So Haluska had all the intangibles in that category. He led all scorers with 18 points.

Iowa State committed 26 turnovers. Iowa forced a lot of them, but many of them were unforced, which is what Cyclone fans have come to expect from their very young and inexperienced team. They did coral 20 offensive rebounds in the game, and still lost by 18 points; that's not something you see very much.

In the first half, Iowa State had nine turnovers and the Hawkeyes scored 17 points off of those giveaways, an amazingly efficient number. In the end, Iowa had 31 points off of 26 turnovers and Iowa State had 10 points off of 12 Iowa turnovers.

Mike Henderson looked more like his healthy self in the game, which is a great thing to see. Iowa doesn't play another game until next Saturday at Drake, which will give Henderson more time to regain all of his strength in his right wrist, something that is still bothering him as he handles the ball. But he attacked the basket at times against Iowa State, and that is something this team has missed thus far in 2006-2007. He had 8 points on the night, in addition to five turnovers, yet it was definitely a step forward.

This is still an Iowa team that shows its inexperience at times. For all his exciting play and ability, Tyler Smith still needs to recognize situations better and know when to attack and know when to back off. He had 16 points for Iowa and a game-high six assists.

I maintain that at some point in time this year, this is a team that may have to be reckoned with. It might not be good enough to beat an Ohio State, but they are going to catch someone that is better than they are on paper. The Hawkeyes need to win their four remaining non-conference games. That would get them to 9-5 before the Big Ten begins. 10 wins in league play and a couple in the Big Ten tournament would get Iowa to 21 and certainly in the Big Dance discussion. However, this club will have to show some consistency before fans can even dream about that.

The Iowa student section (which has been fantastic this year) was chanting ‘Hawkeye State' at the end of the game. Iowa won the football game, the dual wrestling meet and the men's basketball game, the three biggest head to head matches between the teams.

Things aren't rosy in Iowa City across the board right now, and the folks in Ames have grabbed a lot of the headlines over the past eight months. But the Hawkeyes scored a clean sweep of the big three head to head contests this year. That should help out at the water cooler.

Final note: 14,577 fans paid to watch the game. Though not a sellout, it was a solid crowd and one that came with its game face on.

December 5th, 2006, UNI at Iowa:

As I said last week after UNI beat Iowa State, the Panthers are the best team in the state of Iowa.

It's too bad the Hawkeyes let them off the hook on Tuesday night.

Iowa blew yet another double-digit lead late in the game to lose a close one.

The Hawks surrendered an enormous lead against Northwestern State in the NCAA tournament. They surrendered a double-digit lead against Arizona State in late November, and they led 51-40 with 5:31to go against UNI. Three minutes and 49 seconds later, UNI is up 53-51. That's a 13-0 run (Iowa gave up two 13-0 runs against ASU) and UNI wound up beating Iowa 57-55 at Carver-Panther Arena on Tuesday. How many UNI fans were in the place?

That right there is a cause for alarm. That, and when there are more fans in the arena for a wrestling dual meet two days earlier, is another cause for alarm.

Iowa's 21-game winning streak also came to an end on Tuesday.

Iowa's losing to UNI is not a huge shocker, nor is it a bad loss. Yes, it's a home loss, and yes, a Big Ten program should be stronger than a Missouri Valley program in the same state that also has a Big 12 program. But give UNI credit. They have the best post tandem in the state, and one that would be among the best in either the Big Ten or the Big 12.

UNI lived at the free throw line on Tuesday, and Iowa ranks near the bottom of Big Ten teams when it comes to free throw attempts this year. The translation for that is that UNI got the ball inside and Iowa did not. UNI attempted 29 free throws to Iowa's 7….at Iowa.

In my last blog entry, after Saturday night's win, I said that UNI's guards should be the reason that you lose the game; don't let Coleman and Stout beat you. Coleman was a monster; 21 points and 15 boards. Stout had 12 points. UNI got just four field goals and 14 points from its starting guards.

I also hoped to see Tyler Smith and Adam Haluska posting up. We saw that out of Smith, as he had 20 points for the Hawks. We didn't see that from Haluska, who was bothered all night long and had two first half points and finished with nine, going 3-10 from the floor.

Smith was 9 of 15 from the floor, and it was a quiet 20 points. I wouldn't mind seeing him take 20 shots a game...seriously.

Iowa was -10 on the glass, but committed just 10 turnovers.

Iowa is now 4-5, and still needs a healthy Mike Henderson to run the show. That probably won't come until mid to late December. By then, it may be too late to even think about an NCAA tournament run. But I didn't expect to see one of those this year, so my frustration with this team is not as high as it would be for a team that I expected more out of.

The big question then is this; how bad is it to not have much in the way of expectations?

December 2nd, 2006:

Adam Haluska goes off for a career high 31 points on the night, aided by knocking down 6 of 12 from the three-point line. He is just a few days removed from turning his ankle, something that seemingly bothered him on Friday night as well as the first half against Coppin State; he was 3 of 8 from the floor for nine points in the first stanza.

That means he went 7 of 10 from the floor in the second half. He also had nine points and nine assists and just one turnover. It was one of the most impressive individual performances an Iowa player has put on the stat sheet in a long time. Haluska has now attempted 72 three-point shots through eight games. That is a pace for 270 for the 30 game regular season. That does not count at least one Big Ten tournament game, or any other post-season games. The Iowa record for three-point attempts in one season is 297 by Chris Kingsbury. Luke Recker is #2 with 223 in 2002. Haluska's 185 attempts last year is #7. Adam is hitting .333 from downtown this year.

Tyler Smith added 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting, and those were quiet points for the most part. Once Henderson is back in full gear, I think that Smith might be the biggest beneficiary.

Justin Johnson continues to be a very pleasant surprise. He is averaging 7.4 points per game and his .472 percentage from three-point range leads the team.

Back to the Coppin State game…Iowa played pretty good basketball for 30 of the 40 minutes, but the 10 minutes or so where it did not play well, Coppin State scored far too many transition points as Iowa seemed slow getting back on defense. Coppin State also got to the basket too many times on their offensive end, in one on one situations.

But the Hawks got back to the .500 mark for the season, evening their record at 4-4. Northern Iowa comes to town on Tuesday, and the big key in this game will be how Iowa handles the Panthers guard court. Yes, I said guard court. We all know that Grant Stout and Greg Coleman make up the best front court in the state at this point in time, and I don't think its even close.

Iowa may want to run some zone if those two players are going off. Zone is not a four-letter word, at least to me. Force the Panther guards to beat you; don't let the big men make the difference in the game.

Getting Haluska and Smith in post situations on the offensive end would also be a pretty good strategy to employ in this game, which also means sending your bigs out beyond the elbow.

November 29th, 2006:
I don't think this Iowa team is a bad team, but for roughly 37 minutes on Monday night, it looked bad. The 69-65 final score against Virginia Tech was misleading, as Iowa had a late run after trailing by 16 points with just over five minutes to play.

Iowa committed 18 turnovers, a problem that has plagued many of Steve Alford's Iowa teams.

The biggest problem so far this year, besides the obvious hole at point guard with Mike Henderson out with an injury, has been Iowa's inconsistency on both ends of the court.

When last year's team was having an off night offensively, it relied on stellar effort at the other end of the floor. It usually got it, and Iowa won 25 games a year ago.

As I have said in previous blog entries this year, I don't expect this team to make it to the NCAA's, and with a 2-4 start to this season, that is seeming more and more likely. On the whole, I am fine with that, as I see this as a rebuilding year.

But this team is having far too many stretches where it a half step too slow or late on offense and defense.

Point guard is a big time problem without Henderson. He is the MVP of the team and he hasn't even played a minute of basketball this year.

I think this team can make marked improvement once Henderson gets a few games under his belt. That's a good thing, as the Big Ten is a very weak conference this year after you get past Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Remember the 2001-2002 season? I know that many of you don't want to, as that was a very disappointing year, one that saw the Hawkeyes ranked in the Top 10 before the year began and one that ended with a 5-11 record in league play.

That team didn't have a true point guard. Pierre Pierce was a freshman and played that role. I know that you remember all of the ‘We should have waited on Chris Thomas and should have taken both Thomas and Pierce' conversations.

This year's team is suffering from the same problem, but again, Henderson's return is imminent.

In watching the Virginia Tech game tonight, something jumped into my head numerous times; Iowa needs to recruit a junior college point guard. There are no guarantees that Tony Freeman is going to grow into being a true point guard, one that can have a calming effect on an offense.

Now, I am not knocking the kid, or rather, I don't intend to. I like his fire and his aggressiveness. But back on the courts when I played, Freeman would be what we referred to as ‘OC'; playing out of control. He has but one speed, and that's high speed.

Alford has said that it's definitely a change of role for him from last year, as he didn't have to be a point last year. He was more of a scoring guard.

Justin Johnson is probably not the answer, either. That is not a knock against him, it just doesn't appear to be a position that he will excel at. Then again, I am not a basketball expert.

After this season, Mike Henderson is gone. Freeman and Johnson are back next year, and newcomer Dairese Gary will be coming in, but I don't think he is your point guard answer for 2007-2008. At best, he will be a true freshman, and that has its own perils at the position.

For all of the athleticism this team has, it has a glaring Achilles heel, and one that may linger into next year if Freeman doesn't mature into the role. He could do it, and he is still just one year and six games into his career. Perhaps I'll file this topic into the category of ‘One to Watch'.

STATE TITLE: UNI beat Iowa State in the UNI Dome on Wednesday night, and they are a veteran team with the best front line in the state. Their guard court is their weakness, but right now, they have one in the win column and have played like the best of the Big Four thus far. Iowa plays at Drake early next week then hosts Iowa State on December 8th.

Monday, November 20th, 2006: Iowa vs. Villanova:

Well, that wasn't pretty.

The thing that stands out the most to me is that Iowa really misses Mike Henderson. I wrote the same thing after the Alabama game as Iowa needed a penetrator in that contest. After the 89-60 Villanova loss, and facing their full court press, it was even more apparent.

Iowa had 22 turnovers in this game, with 13 in the first half and 15 after about 22 minutes.

Freshman Tyler Smith accounted for 10 of those turnovers. That's not the kind of double-double that you want to have (Smith added 12 points). Adam Haluska was 5 of 13 from the floor, making him 9 of 41 from the floor for the three-game Paradise Jam event. I doubt he will want to return to the Virgin Islands anytime soon.

Kurt Looby was about the lone bright spot, scoring 13 points, grabbing seven boards, hitting 7 of 8 from the line and blocking three shots.

Outside of that, it was pretty brutal to watch, but not wholly unexpected. No, I don't expect Iowa to lose many games by 29 points, but without Henderson, who is good at attacking the basket and is perhaps Iowa's best perimeter defender, and given that Iowa has so many first year players, the Hawkeyes are bound to have an up and down season. They will look great at times and will look bad at times. Consistency will be their biggest challenge, as is always the case for younger/inexperienced players in any sport.

Another thing that Iowa did poorly in this game was moving the basketball. They were very sloppy, and perhaps were a little gassed, as their concentration just wasn't there.

Iowa returns home for the holiday before leaving to take on Arizona State on Saturday. They will go to Virginia Tech next week for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge as well.

2-2 after four games is right about where I thought this team would be. If they can salvage a split in their next two games, road games, that would be a solid November for a team that will struggle to make the NCAA tournament.

And that is not a knock; they are just inexperienced. Will Mike Henderson give them a big enough push to challenge for an NCAA bid? That's too much to expect at this early juncture. But I don't expect Haluska to have another three-game slump like he endured this weekend.

The future does look good for this program, as there are several athletic players in the fold and coming down the pike. So sit back and just enjoy watching them grow, as I am going to do.

Sunday, November 19th, 2006: Iowa vs. Alabama:
The Hawkeyes fell 72-60 to the 10th ranked team in the nation on Sunday evening in the Virgin Islands. They trailed 32-31 at the break.

They will get another tough test on Monday night when they face either Villanova or Xavier.

My feeling on early season tournaments such as this one, the Hawaii tourney they were in a few years ago and the Guardians Tournament that Iowa has taken part in is that your team is probably not as bad or as good as it plays in these events.

Rarely do you play on back to back nights in the regular season, with the rare Thursday-Saturday swing in Big Ten play if you are on ESPN's Thursday night game.

But it's a good time for things to get worked out, and some weaknesses can be exposed.

Let's start with some things that might challenge this Iowa team in 2006-2007. Something that is not a secret for this team is that it lacks many outside shooters. That has been a common yet surprising refrain during the Steve Alford era.

As I wrote in the first blog entry of this year that you can read below, if Adam Haluska is not on, who is going to be this team's scorer from the perimeter? Justin Johnson had a nice exhibition game against Buena Vista, but he is not yet a consistent deep threat. Tony Freeman is going to be hit and miss in that department, too, as we have seen in the season's first three games. Seth Gorney has shown a nice mid-range game and hit some deep two's against Alabama, but I don't think he will be a focal point that far away from the basket. Mike Henderson, once he returns later this month or in December, has not been a consistent deep threat during his three years on campus.

Haluska was 2-13 against Alabama, including 0-9 from three-point range. He was 2-15 from the floor against Toledo, including 2 of 8 from three. That's 4 of 28 from the floor in two games at the Paradise Jam. Yet Iowa was in the game against a legit Top 10 team for 35 of the 40 minutes.

As I wrote after the win against The Citadel, this is an Iowa team that I would zone were I coaching against it. I also wrote after that game that I would throw some junk defenses at Haluska until someone else showed that they could hurt me. You don't have to do that when a player is in a shooting slump. But Iowa has produced a #2, if not a #1 scoring option, and that is Tyler Smith.

I am trying to be careful here, and not get the hype machine rolling in full effect after just three games, or really, just two games as far as Smith is concerned, since he fouled out in 10 minutes of Iowa's win over The Citadel.

But Smith is the most athletic player Iowa has had on the wing since Ricky Davis, and going back farther than that, since Roy Marble.

That dunk attempt he made from the right wing in transition….ask yourself this; when was the last time Iowa had a player that could even attempt something like that, much less come close to pulling it off? Doug Thomas was an athletic freak, but not in traffic and with the basketball.

Smith also showed such body control in traffic, the ability to stop and pop on the break, the ability to create his own shot, he is active on defense and he has soft hands.

For the tournament, Smith is 18 of 30, averaging 23.5 points per game, and he doesn't seem to be forcing the action. He also shows unselfishness and looks to find open teammates. He had a nice alleyoop play to Seth Gorney once Gorney flashed low on the baseline. It was not a called play, it was 20 seconds into the play clock and after Iowa had done a good job of passing and reversing the basketball.

Since he is a freshman, he will have nights like he did against The Citadel. But all of the preseason accolades and accounts of his game appear to be on the money, and he was one of the three best players on the court in a game where Alabama has at least three if not four future NBA players on its roster.

Back to my comment about going zone against Iowa; Alabama, a very athletic team that can play you well man to man, played a TON of zone against the Hawkeyes. The result was a poor shooting night for Iowa, and the Hawks got to the free throw line just six times, making five of them. I should say that Tyler Smith got to the line six times, because that was it for the Hawks at the charity stripe.

Alabama's front court is loaded, and they won the battle of the boards 35-28, but the Hawks were with them for much of the game. Iowa did match Alabama's nine offensive boards, and the number of Iowa misses (40) compared to the number of Alabama misses (25) was a big difference on the defensive glass.

Iowa committed just 11 turnovers, which is a good thing, and it had 17 assists on 24 field goals, which is a solid number.

Alabama is better than Iowa, and later this year, the Crimson Tide will be a force in the SEC. What Iowa will be in the Big Ten is yet to be determined, but so far, this is a team that is better than I thought it would be and it is playing without one of its three best performers and its best penetrator in Mike Henderson.

Pleasant Surprise: Seth Gorney is averaging double figures for Iowa this year, and his perimeter shot is surprising.

Friday, November 17th, 2006: Iowa Beats Toledo

Of course I didn't see Iowa's win over Toledo, but I caught some of it on the radio and have looked over the stat sheet and play by play of the game.

First off, based on listening to Bobby Hansen and hearing his enthusiasm, Kurt Looby is one of those rebounders and players that just doesn't know any better but to try and get every ball. This guy was a blank sheet of paper, and he was basically taught what to do without having bad habits. Nine boards, six of them offensively, following up on his 14 board performance on Monday, is a solid way to start his Hawkeye career. He also had 13 points, and as Van Coleman told me last year and again this summer, he said that Looby goes after everything hard, especially put backs. He is also very athletic. He did what he did in 19 minutes of play, too.

Seth Gorney had 10 points and five boards in 25 minutes. So Iowa's center production, in 44 minutes, was 23 points and 14 boards. That is excellent.

Tyler Smith gets off for 28 points on 11 of 18 shooting, one three attempt and one make. He also had five assists, six boards and one turnover. That's a great team game. People say that he is too unselfish at times. Too bad that game wasn't on TV for us all to see. Iowa's media guide doesn't have single game records for freshmen, but I would guess that Smith's 28 has to be in the Top 20 at least.

Coach Alford and Bobby Hansen praised Cyrus Tate's play. 19 minutes, 9 points, 7 boards and two steals.

As I wrote in this blog earlier this week, and you can scroll below to see it, I felt that teams would try to take away Adam Haluska to see if there were any other Hawkeyes that could step up and score, until Mike Henderson gets back. Haluska was 2-15 from the floor today, but from the radio call, it sounded more like he was just long on shots as opposed to seeing junk defenses out there. Tyler Smith's big game is going to give people something to think about if they choose to focus on Haluska, at least until a team puts emphasis on Adam and gets burnt by Smith.

Is Toldeo a top 25 team? No, they are not. But they are picked to win the MAC, not a horrible league by any stretch, and they returned four starters and 85 percent of their scoring from last year. But they were 10th in the MAC in rebounding, and inside play was their Achilles heel heading into this year. Give Iowa credit for scratching where it itched in pounding the Rockets +21 on the glass, when that number was fairly even at intermission.

The Hawks had 18 turnovers to Toledo's 14, and had just 12 assists on 27 buckets. But the Hawks went for more than 20 in the paint and many of their baskets were putbacks. The result was a 13 point win, and though I didn't see Iowa's game plan going into this contest, I would bet that the Hawks hit on most of the big points. Iowa also had 40 points off the bench.

A great test against #10 Alabama comes up next for Iowa. Point guard Ronald Steele is one of the best in the nation, Mykal Riley is a thin wing that can fill it up from the outside and Jamareo Davidson is a beast underneath. Davidson did not play in Alabama's game against Middle Tennesee State, as he was mourning the death of his girlfriend who was killed in a car accident. He was expected to join the team on Saturday and it's not known if he will play against Iowa.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Iowa was -17 in points off turnovers.

Monday, November 13th, 2006: Iowa vs The Citadel: The first regular season game of 2006 offered a first look at several Hawkeyes, and had more than a few people scrambling to the internet to look up the roster.

We didn't need a program to know who Adam Haluska was, and he scored 18 first half points en route to tying his career high with 29 points. He nailed six three-point shots along the way. It was a solid start for sophomore guard Tony Freeman who dished out 11 assists on the evening to just three turnovers. Junior Kurt Looby pulled down 14 boards and blocked three shots and was active and agile. Seth Gorney looked the same, scoring 10 points and knocking down a couple of jump shots.

Sophomore Cyrus Tate added 13 points and he too was active along the baseline, and showed that he has a lot of promise once he adds some more bulk to his frame. Many of us were waiting to see freshman Tyler Smith don the Hawkeye jersey for the first time, and he fouled out, scoring just two points in 10 minutes of action.

Iowa moved the ball particularly well in its half court sets, something that was a departure from the norm of Iowa hoops during the Steve Alford era. There were plenty of skip passes and not very much wasted dribbling; I hope that is a trend that continues throughout the year. Here is what Coach Alford had to say on that topic after the game: "We moved the ball maybe as well as I've had a team move the ball here, especially in the first 20 minutes. Even the shots we missed , we got a lot of good looks because of the way that we moved the ball."

The Hawks held The Citadel to 33.9% shooting on the night, continuing their solid defense from a year ago.

There has been a lot of talk about this team's improved athleticism from a year ago. This is just one game, and I certainly wouldn't start writing a book about that topic.

It was a good start.

Some things to consider as the season unfolds; teams will try to remove Adam Haluska from the flow of the game, as he is clearly Iowa's best scoring option. Until others step up and show consistency this year, Haluska might see some junk defenses devised to shut him down or limit his productivity. It's what I would do were I facing this Iowa team.

The Citadel went to a zone defense after Iowa got out to a quick first half lead. It was effective for a spell, but the Hawks, namely Haluska, busted the zone en route to six first half three-point baskets. That's not always going to be the case, and once again, Iowa will probably be susceptible to zone defenses. That being said, seeing Looby, Tate and Gorney perform well in the paint is a good way to start the year.

Tyler Smith is not going to be maligned all season, though a post on the message boards saying that he looked a lot like Glen Worley received a few good natured chuckles on Monday night.

Iowa was +7 on the glass, but -2 on the offensive glass. The Hawkeyes were +2 in the turnover department, and 25 of their 27 field goals came with an assist; that's real, real good, no matter who the opponent is, as is their 25 to 14 assist to turnover number. Iowa committed just six second half turnovers.

Cyrus Tate's 13 points came in 18 minutes.

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