In a season that has seen as much adversity and attrition as the 2008-2009 Iowa men's basketball team has faced, moral victories count for something.
They might not matter to the coaches and players, but for you that have followed
The injury ridden yet still more experienced 2000-2001 Iowa team, the one that won the Big Ten tournament by winning four games in four days, lost there by 24 points. Steve Alford's last two trips to the
That building has been a house of horrors for a lot of teams, and some folks assumed that this year's Iowa basketball squad, down to just six and a half players in Todd Lickliter's rotation, was going to have a tough time keeping the losing margin under the 16 point spread that Vegas set for this contest.
Someone forgot to tell that to
The Hawks had their sights set on pulling off a stunning upset, as they trailed 48-43 with just under eight minutes remaining, but MSU went inside, where they had a sizeable advantage, both literally and figuratively.
Big men Goran Suton and Delvin Roe went to the line on three straight Spartan possessions, making all six of their free throw attempts to widen the lead to 53-43 with 5:56 to play. Those trips to the line were bracketed around two
What was just as impressive was the defense that Kelly played on
To top it off, Kelly has averaged 39.75 minutes per game over the past four games, or basically just 60 seconds shy of averaging a complete game, each time out. He went the distance again on Wednesday night, as Peterson and guard Jermaine Davis were both unavailable. Fellow guards Devan Balwinkel and Matt Gatens also played the entire game for the second contest in a row, but they were not as effective against Michigan State's perimeter defense as they were against Michigan on Sunday; Balwinkel scored just three points while hitting just one of six from three point range, while Gatens scored nine on three of six shooting from the floor. Aaron Fuller added 10 points on the night, while starter Jarryd Cole scored just five, as he was saddled with three fouls in the first half and played just 23 minutes. Cyrus Tate logged 17 minutes and scored seven points to go along with three rebounds.
The Hawkeyes committed 16 turnovers on the night, but forced
After Iowa's win against Michigan on Sunday, I wrote that I wished the trip to East Lansing was already in the books and out of the way, because I was fearful that the positive momentum Iowa had built in its close loss at home to a ranked Purdue team and the win against Michigan could be wiped out with a possible demoralizing loss to the Spartans.
There is no column for close losses or moral victories, and I am certain the players will have none of it. But they should be proud of the effort they are giving, and the steps they are taking right now will only serve them well come next season, when the roster is healthy and more experienced.
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