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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
 
Iowa 74, Ohio State 72
Iowa picked up its first two-game winning streak of the conference season in exciting fashion, beating Ohio State on a Jeff Horner jumper with just three seconds to go.

The Carver-Hawkeye crowd of 11,000+ was apathetic for most of the first half, as the Buckeyes scored the first 7 points of the game, and Iowa didn't catch up to Ohio State until about 10 minutes into the game. The crowd finally got excited on the last possession of the half, as Horner grabbed an offensive rebound, killed some time, then found Jack Brownlee in the corner, who buried a three as time expired. That shot (from Iowa's lone senior, on Senior Night) sent the Hawks to the locker room trailing by a point.

The second half was tight - neither team led by more than six, and they were tied at eight different scores. Things got especially exciting in the final minute. Horner split two defenders with a bounce pass to Doug Thomas on the baseline, who went up strong and threw down a powerful dunk. He also drew some contact, and the 65% free throw shooter made the extra shot to put Iowa up three. Not to be outdone, Terence Dials scored the old-fashioned three point play at the other end, and Iowa had the ball with 29 seconds to go.

Iowa called timeout, then dribbled the ball up to halfcourt and called another timeout. According to his post-game interview, Horner told the coaches that he wanted the last shot. He got his wish. Horner stood near halfcourt while the clock ticked inside of 10 seconds. Seth Gorney freed him up with a pick, and Jeff knocked down the shot from the left elbow with three seconds left. Ohio State got the ball inbounds but turned it over before they could get a shot off. Hawks win!

Let's take a quick look at some numbers from the box score -

Iowa - 53 FGA - 10 Oreb + 9 TO + (0.4 x 20 FTA) = 60 possessions
OSU - 52 FGA - 7 O reb + 11 TO + (0.4 x 14 FTA) = 61.6 possessions

Averaging those gives us a game with about 61 possessions.
(74 points / 61 poss) x 100 = 121 offensive rating
(72 points / 61 poss) x 100 = 118 defensive rating

Ohio State's defense had only been allowing 99 points per 100 possessions, so this was a fine performance by the Hawkeye offense. However, their defensive effort was as bad as the offense was good, since the Buckeyes were only scoring 102 points per 100 possessions. Oh well, a win is a win, and they haven't exactly been plentiful lately, so I'll just shut up and enjoy it.

Game Notes

- Horner joined Iowa's 1,000 point club in what was one of his best games of the season. He played all 40 minutes without a turnover, he passed for eight assists, including the big baskets by Brownlee and Thomas at the end of each half, he grabbed eight rebounds, and his game-winning shot gave him a team-high 25 points. Not too shabby. It's great to see him hitting the three again - he's made 8 of them in the last two games.

- It's a good thing Horner was hot, because Greg Brunner struggled to get anything going offensively (although he was a monster on the offensive glass, grabbing 5 boards on his end of the floor). Greg finished with his standard 10 rebounds, but for once he fell short on the scoring half of the double-double, as he scored only 4 points on 1-5 shooting. Defensively, he had the same struggles as he did at Northwestern - he couldn't effectively guard a guy who can shoot from outside, and Ivan Harris exploited him for three 3's.

- Adam Haluska = good. I really like watching this guy play - he's hitting his threes, he's posting up, he's scoring in transition, and he's even chipping in on the boards. Check out his last 6 games - 19.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 42-77 FG, 13-28 3pt, 18-21 FT. That's a 55 FG%, 63 adjFG%, 86 FT%, and 1.33 PPWS. Very impressive.

- On Tuesday I said, "What if [Doug] Thomas could cut his fouls in half? Would Alford let him off the bench?" and, "If someone could teach him to keep his feet and stop reaching, he'd deserve 25 mpg." Thomas came into the game averaging 7.7 fouls per 40 minutes. Wednesday he had 2 fouls in 21 minutes, or 3.8 fouls per 40 minutes. Eerie. Aside from that coincidence, Doug had another solid game (funny how that seems to happen when he's not on the bench). He hit a couple jump shots from the free throw line and had the monster dunk and free throw at the end to finish with 7 points. One you thing you notice when Doug plays is the change in the crowd - there's this constant buzz of anticipation, like everyone is waiting for a big play to happen at any second. There's a certain energy about his style of play that always spreads to his teammates and the crowd, and it's great to see in person. And besides, how many guys have their own theme song? The student section's recitation of ACDC's "Thunderstruck" upon each Thomas entrance has spread all the way to the megaphone-toting cheerleaders.

- Seth Gorney saw some decent PT again, and even played more than Erek Hansen (10 min to 9). He was one of the many Hawkeye post players who couldn't contain Terence Dials (29 points, 9 rebounds). He looked fine on the offensive end, chipping in five points and hitting three free throws. I hate to say it, but I think my depth chart now has three guys ahead of the one that Alford starts at center.

- Brownlee's final game at Carver-Hawkeye turned out to be a big one - he hit the clutch three in the first half and played a career-high 17 minutes without committing a turnover. He was the last remaining player from the 2001 squad that ran the table in the Big Ten tournament, so next year's team will likely have 0 NCAA tournament experience.

All in all, a good win for the Hawkeyes. It was nice to finally see them on the winning end of a close game. Their record stands at 18-10, 6-9. If they knock off Michigan on Saturday and Ohio State loses to Illinois, Iowa would finish 6th in the Big Ten and draw Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. A win there would pit them up against the three seed, which looks to be Wisconsin, who you'll recall Iowa led by double digits at the Kohl Center. Yes, they lost, but they definitely showed they could play with the Badgers. So while Iowa's chances are slim, this season isn't over yet. Crazier things have happened (and just four years ago).


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