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Wildcats shoot Hawkeyes out of Welsh-Ryan Arena

BY BRENDAN STILES | FEBRUARY 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Northwestern got payback on Thursday.

Fifteen days after the Iowa men’s basketball team managed a 78-65 win over the Wildcats in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Northwestern shot lights out against the Hawkeyes en route to a 74-57 victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.

This loss dropped Iowa to 9-19 overall, 3-12 in Big Ten play.

But while the Hawkeyes had previously tasted success against Northwestern, they headed into Thursday’s contest following a lengthy lay-off. And a lot of rust emerged in the first half.

After playing back-and-forth early, the Wildcats found their shooting stroke and went on a 23-5 run to take a 29-9 lead. They kept the game out of reach the remainder of the way.

“If you have eight days, you definitely want to take a couple days off, and you want to try to freshen them up, but I think we got stale, and that’s my fault. No question about that,” Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter said during a postgame radio interview. “I told the guys I felt like our focus before the game wasn’t where it needed to be and wasn’t as good as what it should have been.”

Northwestern forward John Shurna dominated in the first half. He led all scorers with 29 points — 18 in the first 20 minutes of play. At halftime, his 18 points were only one fewer than the Hawkeyes’ team total; Iowa trailed 39-19.

But Shurna alone didn’t hurt the Hawkeyes. Iowa also committed 13 turnovers, nine in the first half.
Northwestern shot 28-of-48 from the field (58.3 percent). The Wildcats also had 21 assists on their 28 baskets.

Northwestern’s Jeremy Nash notched 15 points, and Michael Thompson and Luka Mirkovic posted 12 apiece.

Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens led Iowa on offense, scoring 12 of his 15 points during the second half. The Iowa City native also had eight rebounds to lead the team.

Freshman guard Cully Payne tallied double-figures as well with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting.

Iowa sophomore Aaron Fuller contributed with seven points. But Fuller fouled out of the game with 7:19 remaining.

“Give Northwestern credit, they went at them,” Gatens said during a postgame radio interview regarding the Wildcats defense against Fuller and Jarryd Cole. “They tried to get those guys in a little foul trouble, and they did.”

Despite the deficit, which at one point reached 25 at 54-29, the Hawkeyes managed to climb to within 12 points at 65-53 with a little under five minutes left in the contest.

However, the Wildcats’ lead proved insurmountable for Iowa to overcome.

Iowa will play its final home game at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 against Indiana, a team tied with Iowa for ninth place in the Big Ten as of Thursday. The Hawkeyes won the previous meeting in Bloomington, Ind., on Jan. 24, 58-43.


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