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Gophers flatten Hawkeyes, 88-53

BY SCOTT MILLER | MARCH 08, 2010 7:30 AM

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In a season during which the Hawkeyes have practically invented ways to lose, perhaps this was a fitting way for the regular season to end.

Showing little resistance, Iowa (10-21, 4-14) wilted under Minnesota’s full-court pressure on way to its most lopsided defeat of this season. Unable to regain traction after the Gophers’ 17-0 first-half run, Iowa fell 88-53 on Sunday evening in Williams Arena.

The Hawkeyes’ 21 losses are the most in program history. And in closing the regular season, Iowa lost two-consecutive games by 62 points. With Sunday’s defeat, head coach Todd Lickliter’s squad will play Michigan for the third-consecutive year in next week’s Big Ten Tournament, this time as the tourney’s No. 9 seed.

“I don’t think any other team in the Big Ten had both of their last two games on the road,” Lickliter said on the Hawkeye Radio Network. “It’s tough, especially for a team full of freshmen and sophomores.”

After falling down 22 at half, Iowa allowed Minnesota’s lead to balloon as big as 37 in the second half. If it had not been for sophomore Aaron Fuller’s 16 points — his sixth double-figure game in the last eight contests — it could have been much worse.

The Gophers flattened the Hawkeyes behind a season-high 12 3-pointers and 37 combined points from senior Lawrence Westbrook and sophomore Devoe Joseph.

“It’s definitely a lot of frustration,” junior co-captain Jarryd Cole told the Hawkeye Radio Network. “It’s actually so much frustration that as a player, you’re actually torn between wanting to stay in the flow of things … [and] forcing things and trying to get the lead down as fast as possible.

“You can’t play basketball that way.”

Usually a staple of Lickliter’s teams, Iowa’s defense crumbled at the hands of the Gophers. The Hawkeyes gave up a season-high 58.5 percent shooting. Also a season-high for Lickliter’s squad was Minnesota’s 88 points.

Compounding its defensive problems, Iowa committed 14 turnovers — six by freshman Cully Payne — leading to 21 Minnesota points.

“That’s unbelievable for us,” Lickliter said of the Gophers’ 88 points. “They got rollin’. They just got to feeling so good we couldn’t do anything with them.”

The Hawkeyes hung with the Gophers early, staying within five points at the 13-minute mark of the first half. But thanks to poor outside shooting and a plethora of turnovers, a 22-2 Minnesota run ensued over the next 10 minutes. It wasn’t until Cole nailed a long jumper with 3:16 remaining that Iowa ended its shooting slump.

In all, the Hawkeyes missed 10-consecutive field-goal attempts and went 7:39 without scoring during the run.

“It was tough,” Cole said on the Hawkeye Radio Network. “We came out and defended well for the first few minutes. We had a lapse, and they came at us hard.”

Battling Minnesota’s full-court press, Payne committed four first-half turnovers. In fact, Iowa had as many turnovers as field goals (nine) in the first 20 minutes.

While the Hawkeyes struggled to score, Tubby Smith’s squad plowed ahead by making 6-of-9 from the 3-point line and shooting nearly 60 percent overall in the first half. Iowa went 0-of-8 beyond the arc and fell too far behind to ever make a legitimate run at the Gophers.

Lickliter’s squad has until Thursday to recover for Damian Sims and Michigan, which it will play at 1:30 p.m., Central time on ESPN2 that afternoon.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity,” Lickliter said. “We’ve struggled this year, but I don’t think it has really affected their effort. I do think it has affected their confidence at times. … We’ve got to overcome that.”


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