Wisconsin has excelled at keeping opponents from hitting three-pointers all season long, but they couldn't keep Iowa's Matt Gatens down on Thursday night. The senior shooting guard was a ridiculous 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and finished with 33 points to lift Iowa to its first sweep of Wisconsin since the 1994-95 season.
What's even crazier is that Gatens had just gone off for 30 points in Iowa's previous game, a 78-66 thrashing of Indiana. But the Hoosiers have had defensive lapses all season. This sort of thing is not supposed to happen to Bo Ryan's squad.
"We tried to make [Gatens] work hard for them," said Ryan after the game, "If he’s going to make shots, we want them to be tough twos. But he got hot. He is on a consistent streak and is playing really well. And we knew that, it’s not like we were surprised. You have to give a guy credit when he can knock those kinds of shots down."
The last two guys to drop 30 on the Badgers were Jacob Pullen of Kansas State, who put up 38 in last year's NCAA Tournament match-up, and the incomparable Stephen Curry of Davidson, who went for 33 to upset Wisconsin in the 2008 Tournament.
Amazingly, Gatens was also 7 for 10 in the Indiana game. Before that, in losses to Penn State and Northwestern, he shot 5 of 7 and 3 of 5 from three-point range. That's four straight games shooting over 50% from that distance. 22 for 32 is some kind of hot streak.
Said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery after the game, "There's nobody playing better than Matt Gatens in the country right now. He's a real intelligent basketball player and a substantially better basketball player than anyone gives him credit. He [is] special, very special."
Iowa came out strong right out of the gate and rolled off 16 points in the first five minutes of action. Later on, an uncharacteristic Wisconsin turnover led to Roy Devyn Marble feeding Melsahn Basabe for a fast break dunk that nearly blew the roof off of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The black and gold led 43-34 at the half.
The Badgers didn't care, though, and would claw back within single digits. With 13 minutes remaining, freshman Frank Kaminsky rejected an Aaron White dunk attempt to start a Wisconsin fast break. Ben Brust picked up the ball and pulled up for a wide open three-pointer attempt from the right wing. Brust swished the attempt to cut the deficit to 3 at 51-48.
Iowa punched right back, though. Following a timeout that followed Brust's big shot, Iowa rolled off a 10-2 run to get the lead back up to 11 with nine minutes left. Of course, all 10 points were put in by Gatens.
Wisconsin did get within two points at 63-61 when Ben Brust hit another trey with 20 seconds left, but Marble hit on two free throws and Wisconsin never got a chance to tie the score.
- Wisconsin actually shot 51% on field goals, compared to Iowa's 48%, but the Badgers were a more modest 6 of 16 from three-point range, while the Hawkeyes went 10 of 18. Brust and Josh Gasser hit two treys each for Wisconsin.
- Part of why Wisconsin struggles on offense this season is because they hardly ever get to the free throw line. That was certainly the case in this game. Ryan Evans was 2 for 3 and that was it.
- Iowa is not amazing at forcing turnovers or anything, but they were able to force Wisconsin, one of the best in the nation in hanging onto the ball, into 14 turns. Not bad.
- Roy Devyn Marble was only 3 of 10 from the field for 11 points, but he also had 8 assists. In his last three games, Marble has 21 assists and 8 turnovers.
- Besides Marble and Gatens, only Aaron White was in double figures for Iowa. He finished with 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting with 6 rebounds.
- Melsahn Basabe seems to be finding his game on defense. He had 3 blocks in this one to give him 8 in his last two games. For the season, Basabe has only averaged 1.3 blocks per game
- For the second straight game, Jordan Taylor was held to under 15 points and 5 assists. In 29 minutes, Taylor had just 9 points with 4 assists and 4 turnovers.
- In double figures for Wisconsin: Ryan Evans with 14 points and 6 rebounds, Josh Gasser with 14 points and 5 rebounds, Rob Wilson with 11 points and Ben Brust with 10. Quiet night for Jared Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz as the two combined for just 8 points.
Wow what a win for Iowa. They have to be considered for the NCAA Tournament now with wins over Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin (x2) and Minnesota (x2). Right now, they stand at 7-8 in conference and with remaining games at Illinois, at Nebraska and home versus Northwestern, there is a very good chance for the Hawkeyes to finish conference play at .500 or better. With no quality wins to speak of in the non-conference schedule, it would behoove Iowa to win their remaining regular season games to earn a 10-8 conference mark. That would put them in could position heading into the conference tournament.
Wisconsin is likely just playing for seeding at this point, but one more win couldn't hurt. They play at Ohio State this Sunday before hosting Minnesota and then Illinois to wrap up the regular season.