Dec. 5, 2009
By Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Anthony Tucker helped the University of Iowa men's basketball team break open the game against Prairie View A&M with three consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first half and the rest of the Hawkeyes followed suit as they thrashed the Panthers, 80-51, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes (3-5 overall) won despite missing head coach Todd Lickliter, who was home ill after undergoing a medical procedure. Iowa set a single-game team record by hitting 15 from long range in the absence of their head coach.
"I thought our players and our coaches did as good of a job as one would expect when your leader is gone," said assistant coach Chad Walthall who stepped in for Lickliter. "I was really proud of the way they pulled together. All of our guys did a really good job of getting themselves ready to play. The plan was in place and sometimes when you have a plan in place you can just go and rely on your players to execute and that is what they did."
The 3-point shot was working well for Iowa, which rarely went anywhere besides outside of the perimeter. The Hawkeyes also locked down on defense and forced the Panthers to turn the ball over 21 times. Iowa shot 25 of 53 from the floor (47 percent), an astounding 15 of 31 (48 percent) from outside, and 15 of 23 (65 percent) from the charity stripe.
Four players reached double-figures in points with Tucker leading the way with a game-high 20. Eric May had 14, Matt Gatens with 12, and Devan Bawinkel added 11. Gatens and Cully Payne each paced Iowa with four assists and May pulled down 11 rebounds.
"We got each other open and did a good job at that," May said. "We are a good 3-point shooting team and we all feel confident in our shot. It was a really equal distribution of the ball."
The Hawkeyes moved the ball around and hit Payne for a 3 from the right side of the arc to take the lead off of the first possession and would never look back. Payne's trey would foreshadow the storm that was about to hit the Panthers.
"We came out and did the things that we needed to," Tucker said. "We really executed the game plan and with that we were able to jump out to a big lead and stay with it."
Both teams were quiet for a few minutes until Jarryd Cole missed a layup, but rebounded the misfire to make it the second time around. Gatens followed it up when he drained one from long range for a 10-4 advantage.
Two 3-pointers later helped the Hawkeyes jump out to a 16-4 lead. The 3's kept raining in for Iowa. Tucker started feeling it and broke the game open hitting three in a row for a commanding 26-9 lead with 8-minutes remaining in the half.
"We feel like we are a good-shooting team," Tucker said. "I don't think we shot the ball that well earlier this year. I think we all thought that it was just a matter of time before we started knocking down shots.
After a 3 by the Pantehrs, the Iowa came right back and put it in the hands of Gatens who drilled one of his own for a 34-13 lead with 4:21left in the first half. The momentum kept swinging in Iowa's favor off of Panther turnovers when Payne stole the ball and kicked out to May who had a one-handed slam dunk and a 38-13 lead. The Hawkeyes walked into the locker room up, 39-15.
The Hawkeyes lost no momentum in the second half, getting a quick midrange jumper from May. The Panthers were not deterred and scored the next 10 points to cut into Iowa's large lead before Payne hit an open 3-pointer. The Hawkeyes continued to knock down 3's to contain their large lead when the Panthers offense started to heat up.
Two long-range jumpers from Tucker and one from Bawinkel gave Iowa a 58-29 lead. The Hawkeyes did not let up and kept pushing. With 6:57 remaining, Gatens air-balled a 3 attempt, but as the ball was heading out-of-bounds, Tucker dove and knocked it to Cole for an easy layup and a 30-point Hawkeye lead.
"It really helps when you can knock down a lot of 3's," Fuller said. "Shooting like that would have helped us in a couple of games if we would have knocked them down. We really set the tempo from the beginning and never let up."
The Hawkeyes continued to make life miserable for the Panthers until the late minutes when Iowa started to work the clock with the game in-hand.
Iowa will take on another Panther team in Cedar Falls when the Hawkeyes face Northern Iowa at the McLeod Center on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.