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Gatens worth 1,000 points

BY SETH ROBERTS | FEBRUARY 03, 2011 7:10 AM

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Matt Gatens has been a fixture of Iowa basketball for years.

His father played for the Hawkeyes in the 1970s, and the younger Gatens orally committed to the Black and Gold when he was in ninth grade. He was named first-team all-state twice at City High. He represented the state at some of the most elite basketball camps in the country.

Wednesday night, the guard from Iowa City further cemented his legacy when he scored his 1,000th point in a Hawkeye uniform.

Gatens became the 40th member of Iowa’s 1,000-point club at the 10:45 mark of the second half, when he knocked down three free throws in Iowa’s 72-52 massacre of Michigan State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Gatens entered the game 17 points shy of the milestone. He finished with 19 points while shooting 6-for-11 from the floor, including 5-of-7 in the first half.

Still, he said, he wasn’t exactly surprised he reached the milestone at the free-throw line. Gatens is one of the best in the country at the stripe, shooting 91.6 percent, and he said he was just happy to get the mark out of the way.

“A lot of people talk about my free throws, so it was kind of typical for it to happen there,” he said and laughed. “I didn’t have any preference.”

All three of those free throws dropped through the basket perfectly, and Gatens received a standing ovation from the crowd of 12,000-plus when the milestone was announced several minutes later.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery hasn’t even been at the helm of the program for a year, but he said he knew what he was getting when he signed with the Hawkeyes. He said he met Gatens when the latter was in high school, and he’s long been impressed with his shooting guard.

“I think we all expected it would happen,” McCaffery said. “You know you’re going to get 15 [points per game]. He’s going to make his free throws, and he’s going to give you a chance [to win].
“He’s been a rock for us.”

Gatens has needed to be that rock on numerous occasions this year, as he is one of the elder statesmen of a young and inexperienced team.

Center Jarryd Cole, the only Hawkeye with a longer tenure than Gatens, said the entire team can appreciate what Gatens accomplished.

“It felt good to him, and it felt good to us,” Cole said of his fellow cocaptain. “He’s probably one of the biggest contributors to the team that we’ve had here. To see him get that 1,000-point mark speaks volumes for him.”


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