For the Hawkeyes, more than an exhibition


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The Iowa men’s basketball team played Marian University in an exhibition game on Sunday. But the Hawkeyes certainly didn’t treat it as such inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

In beating Marian, 76-53, the Hawkeyes provided those in attendance flashes of what has made Iowa an improved team entering Todd Lickliter’s third season as head coach.

“It was a good experience for us,” Lickliter said. “It is a good experience for our guys to learn that it’s just a possession-by-possession game. You don’t ever hurry up and win. You execute, execute, and stay the course. I think, all in all, it was what we hoped for.”

While the Hawkeyes never trailed against Marian, they only led by five, 34-29, at halftime.

But the second half began with Iowa going on a 14-2 run, which allowed the Hawks to pull away.

Over the summer, the coaching staff placed a major emphasis on strength and conditioning. That was clear in the 24 points in the paint, which contrasted with the six points inside from Marian in addition to a 16-3 scoring advantage with second-chance opportunities.

The Hawkeyes also pulled down 44 rebounds — 15 from sophomore Aaron Fuller. Junior cocaptain Jarryd Cole had eight.

“The first half, we were kind of relying too much on the 3 and not kind of punching it in that much,” Fuller said. “The second half, we really wanted to get more shots close to the basket.”

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Iowa also got production from both its veterans and youth.

Sophomore guard Anthony Tucker led the scoring with 21 points. Also posting double-figures for the Hawkeyes were sophomore Matt Gatens with 14, senior cocaptain Devan Bawinkel with 12, and freshman Eric May, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman guard Cully Payne started at the point for Iowa and led the Hawkeyes with six assists. He also drained a 3-pointer in the second half.

“I think it was a great experience,” Payne said. “That’s just a lot of responsibility that gets put on my shoulders. It’s all about winning, so it was real to me.”

Despite being an exhibition, the game gave Iowa a good idea of what it needs to improve on before the 2009-10 season begins on Nov. 15 with a home game against Texas-San Antonio.

“We got to focus from start to finish,” May said. “We came out in the second half really strong, but there were some points in the first half where we weren’t playing really well.”

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