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Saturday, February 19, 2005
Illinois 75, Iowa 65
Iowa fought back from yet another big deficit to scare another great team, but Illinois was too strong down the stretch and maintained its perfect record.

The Hawks kept the score close for most of the first half and were tied with 4:45 left, but a 16-8 Illini run put Iowa down eight at halftime. Illinois stretched their lead to 11 early in the second half, but then Iowa began to chip away. Iowa drew plenty of fouls early in the half and made 11 free throws in a ten minute stretch to supplement a couple big threes and trim the lead to two points. Iowa was still down only two with 4:30 to play, but that was as close as they would get, as Dee Brown put them away with two open court layups and a nail-in-the-coffin three.

Yesterday I pointed to what I thought were some important things Iowa needed to do to win this game, or at least keep it close. I stressed the need for good shooting games from Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska, keeping Illinois off the offensive glass, getting to the free throw line, and keeping Greg Brunner and Haluska in the game. How did the Hawks fare? Glad you asked - let's take a look.

Outside Shooting
This wasn't necessarily a strength for Iowa, as they made only 4 of 11 attempts, with Horner and Haluska making 2 each. What was important, though, was that for once they didn't force the outside shot. They generally only took what was available, and these two guys are pretty effective when they wait for that open shot.

Controlling the Glass
Let's face it - Iowa dominated Illinois when it came to rebounding. The Hawks had 13 offensive rebounds to Illinois's 13 defensive rebounds. It's not everyday you see a team grab 50% of its chances for offensive rebounds. Brunner came up huge with 5, while 7 of 8 Iowa players had at least one. Iowa did just as well defensively, limiting Illinois to 8 offensive rebounds and a 26% offensive rebound rate. Haluska led the team with 6 defensive boards, and Brunner and, surprisingly, Mike Henderson were next with 4 each.

Getting to the Line
Yesterday I said I thought Iowa needed to shoot a lot of free throws, for the double effect of easy points and racking up fouls on Illinois. It was beautiful watching exactly that take place in the second half, as Iowa was in the bonus at the 12:27 mark. Roger Powell, Jr. picked up four and could only play 11 minutes. Iowa took advantage by making 21 of 26 free throws, or 81%. Haluska and Brunner were aggressive enough to each shoot 7 FT.

Keep the Scorers on the Floor
Iowa had a little scare when Brunner picked up his third foul early in the second half, but he managed to stay in the game without anymore trouble for most of the game. Haluska ended up with three fouls, including two irritating fouls on breakaway Dee Brown layups that ended up as three-point plays. As I'm sure many Hawk fans shouted at their TV's - either let the guy go or make sure he doesn't make the shot.....and don't make the same mistake twice! But aside from Brunner's two fouls in the first half and third early in the second, foul trouble wasn't an issue for the Big Three, as Horner, Haluska and Brunner were on the court for 38, 38, and 33 minutes.

But if Iowa dominated the rebounds, did well at the line, at shot nearly as well as Illinois, you're probably asking how they could lose by 10. And if you looked at the box score, you know turnovers killed the Hawks today. They finished with 21 to Illinois's 10. Several of them were travels in the lane that could have been called fouls, but way too many of them were unforced.

Game Notes

That's all I have today. Check in tomorrow for updated conference stats.

Really good analysis of todays game. Keep up the good work.

I really think Alford's paralyzed with fear in his coaching decisions. He's afraid to "go small" even though Hansen's often incapable of contributing anything. Alford's like a _ default coach_ program on a video game... "player has picked up 3rd foul, must send him to bench"
Thanks Will. Considering how few minutes Hansen played recently, I was thinking that Alford might be agreeing with me that Thompson and Thomas were the more capable players, so the 27 minutes for Hansen caught me a little off guard.

The fact that Alford had Thomas on such a short leash (and that he started Hansen) tells me that he still places Hansen ahead of the other two. If he determined that Doug was better, there's no reason to take him out with 3 fouls and 7 minutes left. Since I think Hansen is, at best, the second best of the three, it was agonizing to see him playing the last 7 minutes with a huge upset on the line.
that was one tough loss.....Iowa played tough, but rather than any Alford-related decisions, I think it was Illinois' ability to run that motion offense so effectively that really did you in. I am continually astonished at how many open looks their backcourt troika gets despite the lack of an inside presence. That's not a knock on the Hawkeyes - - its been that way all season long.

Haluska -- what an athlete, wow.
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