3-point shooting propels Hawkeyes over Prairie View A&M


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“The eye in the sky doesn’t lie” — or at least that’s what Prairie View A&M head coach Byron Rimm thought.

That phrase — which is common around NFL circles but can pertain to basketball, too — assumes game film is the most important scouting material in sports. The adage contends a team’s reputation doesn’t matter nearly as much as the way it performs on film.

Rimm came into Prairie View A&M’s contest against Iowa on Dec. 5 assuming the Hawkeyes couldn’t shoot from outside, and few could blame him for thinking that way. After all, head coach Todd Lickliter’s team had only made 38-of-150 (25 percent) 3-pointers all season.

But the fourth-year head coach was wrong.

The Hawkeyes (3-5) lit up the Panthers for 15 3-pointers, tying a school record, on their way to an 80-51 rout of Prairie View A&M in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“One thing we were talking about coming in was we didn’t think they shot the ball really well on film, but they proved me wrong today,” Rimm said. “We gave them some open shots and confidence early, but they did play a lot better than we saw on tape.”

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For the second-consecutive game, sophomore guard Anthony Tucker scored 20-plus points. Just as he did in Iowa’s 70-64 loss to Virginia Tech on Dec. 1, Tucker poured in six 3-pointers, netting 20 points against the Panthers’ soft perimeter defense.

Outside specialist, senior Devan Bawinkel added three triples, and sophomore Matt Gatens and freshman Cully Payne knocked down two each. It was the Hawkeyes’ best 3-point shooting performance since 1998.

“I think it’s because we’re attacking more,” Tucker said. “I don’t think it’s a matter or living and dying by the 3. I think we’re getting better shots, and I think we’re going to continue to shoot the ball well as long as we keep attacking.”

Iowa’s new attack-mode offense is evidenced by its assists-per-made-basket statistic over the last two games. Forty of the team’s 47 baskets against Prairie View A&M and Virginia Tech came off assists.

In their last two games, the Hawkeyes have shot 47-of-102 (46 percent), including 27-of-58 (47 percent) from 3-point range.

When Lickliter’s team started 1-3, it shot 79-of-221 (36 percent), with only 51 of those made baskets coming off of assists. Most likely, this was the film Rimm looked at, but a different team showed up on Dec. 5.

“The key to getting [so many open shots] was our flow on offense got a lot better [on Dec. 5],” said Payne, who has distributed seven assists in the last two games. “We kind started to click a little bit. We’re young, so that’s been hard for us to do, but we got open shots.”

The Hawkeyes — who were coached by assistant Chad Walthall on Dec. 5, as Lickliter recovered from an unknown surgery — started raining 3s against the Panthers from the beginning.

Making four triples in the game’s first eight minutes, Iowa widened its early lead to 12. Three consecutive deep balls from Tucker during a minute-long span in the first half separated the Hawkeyes from Prairie View A&M for good.

In all, six Iowa players netted 3-pointers, and eight Hawkeyes scored against the Panthers.

Iowa will head to Cedar Falls on Tuesday and Ames on Friday to face off against its two in-state rivals, Northern Iowa and Iowa State.

“Everybody was stepping out and hitting shots,” Gatens said. “That’s huge because we take so many of them, and we get some confidence going into this big week ahead.”

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