July 24, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- We have reached the final two of our top 10 Iowa men's basketball games from 2011-12. Today we revisit Iowa's stunning 72-65 upset road victory at No. 11 Wisconsin on Dec. 31 in the Kohl Center. Freshman Aaron White scored 18 points and senior Bryce Cartwright finished with 17 points to lead the Hawkeyes to a statement road win.
Iowa's win snapped Wisconsin's 23-game home winning streak against non-ranked opponents. It was the Badgers' second loss in in 61 games (59-2) during the Bo Ryan era against non-ranked conference teams, and it was Iowa's first road win against a ranked foe since 2006, a 70-67 victory at No. 21 Indiana.
"Anytime you beat the 11th-ranked team on the road, it's a statement victory for where your kids are mentally," said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. "You're seeing this team grow up, and you saw a team play with maturity. Six weeks ago they weren't playing with that level of maturity."
"We showed some resiliency," said Cartwright. "There winning percentage is kind of crazy (in the Kohl Center), over 90 percent, and we came in determined and defied the odds."
White's 18 points came on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Cartwright made 7-of-12 field goals en route to 17 points to go along with five assists. Sophomore Melsahn Basabe added 14 points and nine rebounds, while senior Matt Gatens had a game-high 12 rebounds.
"Bryce was really comfortable," said McCaffery. "He was pushing it and had a good feel of when to give it up, when to go and when not to go. His decision-making was phenomenal, and he made shots."
The Hawkeyes shot 49.2 percent (29-of-59) from the floor and 33.3 percent (2-of-6) from 3-point range. Iowa's bench outscored Wisconsin, 37-16, and the Hawkeyes had a 14-2 advantage in fast break points. Iowa's 72 points were the most points the Badgers allowed last season.
"Our transition game was the key to getting 72," said McCaffery. "And it was key to taking their defensive abilities out of the game. They're going to be up in you, but they can't do that in transition."
Iowa's defense showed marked improvement from the Big Ten opener, limiting Wisconsin to 34.8 percent (24-of-69) shooting and 3-of-28 (10.7 percent) from 3-point range. Iowa also out-rebounded the Badgers, 41-39.
"It was a tremendous effort and concentration game, collectively," said McCaffery. "This was 40 minutes of everybody together, concentrating on effort and battling. You're not going to stop them every time, but you have to battle them on every possession."
After going into the break tied at 31, Wisconsin delivered the first blow of the second half, using a 7-0 run to build a 38-31 advantage. White provided the Hawkeyes with a spark, hitting a 3-pointer to end the Badger run, and scoring nine of Iowa's first 11 points of the second half. His dunk at the 12:50 mark evened the tally at 42.
With the score knotted at 44, Iowa used a 6-0 spurt to grab a 50-44 lead. After Wisconsin closed the gap to 50-48, the Hawkeyes used an 11-2 run to build their advantage to 61-50 with 4:49 remaining. Cartwright and White combined for nine of the 11 points.
Iowa built its lead to 12 points (64-52) on a Roy Devyn Marble free throw with 3:35 remaining, but Wisconsin used a six point possession to keep the pressure on Iowa. Josh Gasser was fouled by Basabe going in for a layup and a post play elbow resulted in a technical foul. Gasser made all four free throw attempts and followed with a lay-up to cut Iowa's lead to 64-58 with 3:06 left.
The Hawkeyes led 68-60 with 1:50 remaining before Taylor drained a triple to make the score 68-63, and Brust had a steal and lay-up to trim the margin to three (68-65) with 47 seconds remaining.
Iowa didn't panic, as it executed its offense, and Marble drained a short jumper from the right baseline to seal the win.
Wisconsin shot 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and went 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) from 3-point land. Iowa shot 42.4 percent (14-of-33) from the field and went 0-for-3 from long range.
Watch the highlights of the Hawkeyes' thrilling road win over nationally-ranked Wisconsin by clicking HERE.
Check back next week as we look back at the runner-up! I'm sure there is no surprise what ranked as our top game.