IOWA CITY, Iowa - On a day when their head coach was hospitalized, the Iowa men's basketball team played its most complete game of the season. The Hawkeyes ran over Prairie View A& M 80-51 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"It was touched on, but it didn't really need to be said," Iowa Guard Anthony Tucker said of the team playing for Lickliter. We wanted to come out and play well and do the things that he showed us and kind of work his system.
"Coach (Chad Walthall) said it best. He said his two twin boys could have stepped in and coached us and we still would have done what we were supposed to."
Walthall led the team in Lickliter's absence. Lickliter was admitted into the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Friday and underwent an unspecified procedure on Saturday morning. Team Physician Brian Wolf said the head coach would be in the hospital for the next day or two and his return to the bench was unknown.
"Our players and our assistant coaches did as good a job as one would expect when your leader is gone," Walthall said. I was really proud of the way they pulled together. All of our guys did a really good job of just getting themselves ready to play.
Lickliter helped prepare the Hawkeyes (3-5) for the game throughout the week.
"The plan was in place," Walthall said. "Sometimes when you have a plan in place, you can rely on the players to go execute. That's what they did."
Tucker paced Iowa in scoring with 20 points. It was his second game in a row over with at least 20. He matched a career-high 24 in a 70-64 loss to Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
Eric May contributed 14 points and 11 points to the winning cause. The freshman started for the first time in his career in place of classmate Brennan Cougill, who missed a few days of practice this week with sickness.
Iowa drained 15 three-pointers in the game, which tied a school record set against Long Island in 1994 and Northwestern in ‘98. It represented the most points scored by Iowa since Minnesota in ‘07 and was the largest margin of victory since a 42-win against Georgia State the same year.
The Hawkeyes ran out to a 17-4 lead in the game's first nine minutes and never looked back. The home team held a 80-51 advantage at halftime. The Panthers shot 6 of 30 (20 percent) from the floor before the intermission.
"We're a lot better basketball team than we showed," Prairie View Coach Byron Rimm II said. "There was a lot of other stuff going on, but that's no excuse. We didn't come out to play."
The Panthers were missing two starters. Chris Jones, who averages 8.3 assists per game, sprained his ankle. Shooting guard Michael Griffin (11.7 PPG) left to team to be with his fiance, who was giving birth.
Walthall said he would continue to run the team in Lickliter's absence. He did not know when the head coach would return.
"I'm not the medical doctor," Walthall said. "I don't know exactly all the details. I do know that he's well. We're all very thankful that he's doing well.
"He's obviously done a great job because you don't have a team operate like that unless you have a good plan and a good system in place."
Walthall sensed that the team was motivated to win one for their ailing head coach. Point guard Cully Payne agreed.
"Yeah, you don't want to mess up when he's gone because he'll see it on tape," he said.
-Payne was pulled from the game after suffering cramps in his legs. Walthall said they needed to get him hydrated and the point guard would be fine.
-Lickliter's wife, Joez and two sons, John, a guard, and Garrett, a graduate assistant, also were not in attendance on Saturday.
-Aaron Fuller, who had played only four minutes since spraining his ankle Nov. 20, entered the game seven minutes in. The sophomore logged 19 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing five boards.
-Andrew Brommer entered the game with 9:44 left in the first half. It was the first time he played in the opening 20 minutes this season. He played a total of four minutes through the first seven games, but saw 10 on Saturday before fouling out.
-Devon Archie, who broke his collar bone at the beginning of the season bit returned to practice last week, watched the game from the bench in street clothes.
-May had two of the top highlights plays in Saturday's game. He threw one down on a fast break and a few minutes later he blocked a dunk attempt on the other end.
-Freshman walk-on Nick Neari played for the first time in his career. He saw three minutes, grabbed a rebound, dished out an assist and turned it over once.