Wolverines crush Hawkeyes


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INDIANAPOLIS — After all the injuries, all the adversity, and all of Michigan’s biggest man on campus DeShawn Sims Thursday, the Hawkeyes’ postseason hopes amounted to 40 minutes from hell in Indianapolis.

That, said Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter, and a postseason trip overseas in May.

Thoughts of Italy, Greece, and time for individual coaching offered little consolation for Lickliter’s competitive spirit, one he felt crash and crumble on the Conseco Field House sideline at some point during Iowa’s 73-45 loss to Michigan.

The shellacking gave Iowa’s second-year head coach an inclination he wouldn’t be fielding calls from the NCAA Tournament Committee or NIT organizers upon returning to Iowa City after a second-consecutive opening-round loss to the Wolverines.

“I think that the criteria are a winning record for most of those,” he said. “And that would probably eliminate us.”

Somewhere, buried under the embarrassment of Lickliter’s facial expressions during a brief postgame press conference, remained the lessons and enjoyment taken from postseason success experienced during his time coaching Butler University in Indianapolis.

He could explain only one emotion in his latest short-lived return to the city that’s defined his coaching career.

“Sick,” he said.

Sims set the tone and scaled the stat sheet in Thursday’s ruthless undressing of Iowa (15-17, 5-13), scoring the Wolverines’ first 14 points before finishing with a game-high 27. Trapped by a 21-point halftime deficit, Iowa saw the Wolverines ease into a 30-point cushion midway through the second half behind 59 percent shooting from the field (29-49) and a team-oriented offensive mindset.

Michigan recorded assists on all but seven possessions and used an NBA-sized effort from sophomore Manny Harris — 18 points, seven rebounds, eight assists — to dismantle the 10th-seeded Hawkeyes.

“I thought DeShawn got them off to an early start, and they just got rolling from there,” Iowa sophomore Jake Kelly said. “He gave all his teammates confidence, and from there on, everybody’s knocking down 60, 70 percent of his shots. “It’s tough to defeat a team like that.”

Despite starting on the bench, senior Cyrus Tate led all Iowa scorers with 12 points and four rebounds in what will likely be the final game of his Hawkeye career. Even after a thorough beating Thursday, Lickliter was pleased that Tate and his teammates’ character remained steady after a draining end to the season.

“I’ll say this, these guys are real classy guys,” Lickliter said. “They wouldn’t make any excuses. I probably didn’t help them near as much offensively as I would have liked to.”

Iowa’s glaring mistakes, including 17 turnovers and a 33 percent clip shooting (15-45) from the field, amounted to arguably its worst performance of the season, a game in which the Hawkeyes faced a superior team in all facets. Michigan, using 24 points off turnovers to its advantage, looked like a team with NCAA Tournament talent.

Iowa, mentally, physically, and literally overcome by an insurmountable lead late in the second half, looked and played the part of a rebuilding program in one of the country’s deepest conferences.

“I told the guys today, afterwards, that they fought hard almost all year,” Lickliter said. “And that’s a big step. I think they’ve laid a foundation, and if you’re not winning, then you sure better be getting ready to win.”

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