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Hoopers Win Without Lickliter

December 5, 2009

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The Iowa Men’s basketball team erupted for 80 points on Saturday, their highest point total of the season, in an easy 80-51 victory over Prairie View A&M. They also did it with Head Coach Todd Lickliter in the hospital. More on that situation below.

Anthony Tucker hit the 20-point plateau for the second straight game, getting an even 20 on 6-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Eric May scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, the first double-double of his career in his first start of his career. Brennan Cougill played just 14 minutes as he has been under the weather as of late. May also had three assists and three blocked shots.

Matt Gatens scored 12 points and four assists, and point guard Cully Payne also had four assists and eight points. Iowa dished out 21 assists but also had 21 turnovers, yet they still won the game by 29 points. PVAM also had 21 assists. Devan Balwinkel added 11 points and attempted the first free throws of his career; he made them both.

Iowa’s next three games are against in state rivals UNI, Iowa State and Drake. Iowa improved to 3-5 with the win on Saturday.

Iowa Head Team Physician Brian Wolf

On Head Coach Todd Lickliter’s absence from the game:

“Coach Lickliter was in the hospital yesterday for some testing and he has been in the hospital since yesterday and did have a procedure done this morning. Everything went extremely well, he’s doing extremely well. He will be in the hospital for a little bit over the next day or two. He should be able to give you more details regarding the situation over the next couple of days. We’ve been talking with his family and he’s doing really well, but that was the reason for his absence here today. I think we’re going to avoid too many details regarding the procedure, and we’ll leave it to Coach Lickliter to provide those details in the next few days per his wishes and his family’s wishes.”

Coach Chad Walthall

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Note: Eric May’s first career start and double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds)

Opening Statement:

“It’s really tough when your leader’s gone. I was really proud of the way they pulled together. All our guys just did a really good job of getting themselves ready to play. The plan was in place, and sometimes when you have a plan in place you can just rely on the players to go execute and that’s what they did. I’m really proud of the players. They did a wonderful job, and we are going to appreciate the win for a little while, but certainly look forward to the UNI game on Tuesday.”

On Coach Lickliter being absent:

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“We had a pretty good feeling last night when we talked that that might be the case. I don’t know when he will be back. I’m not the medical doctor. I don’t know exactly all the details. I do know that he is doing well, and obviously we’re all very thankful. The players know he’s doing well. Obviously he’s done a really wonderful job because you don’t have a team operate like that unless you have a good plan and a good system in place, and obviously we did that tonight. I think it’s natural (to want to win for Coach Lickliter) any time your leader is gone. They obviously trust him a great deal and trust what we do. I think it was just their competitiveness saying ‘Okay our leader is gone; let’s get this done for him.’ I think it’s a natural state of mind and I think our guys did a great job of that.”

On Eric May:

“He is learning every day, and it’s amazing during the course of the game you see some of these first year guys make a great play and another great play and then you say ‘Okay, now we have a couple great plays, what’s going to happen?’ It’s just the learning process. He’s a tough kid and he doesn’t let mistakes get to him. He moves on to the next play. He obviously brings a physical presence, and he shot the ball well today, and I thought he defended well. I think in the first half when they shot 20%, I thought we were doing really great defensively. Guys were helping and stunting in the gap. They’re a team that when they’re feeling right, they can hit some shots that are pretty incredible. It was important that we kept them in front of us, made them shoot over the top, and obviously in the first half I thought we did a really great job of one-and-done. In the second half they started getting some rebounds, but I thought we really set the stage in the first half with our rebounding and as far as our blocking shots and that sort of thing.”

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Prairie View A&M Head Coach Byron Rimm :

“It was a downer for us today. We were missing two starters today. Chris Jones is still out with an ankle injury and our starting shooting guard is having a child today so he left the team to be with his fiancé. We were kind of down, and we also had some bad news in that one of our player’s parents died yesterday, so it was one of those days where you try to find positives to make kids play hard but it was kind of a downer. Iowa played a great basketball game today, they knocked down some shots. One thing we were talking about coming in was we didn’t think they shot the ball really well on film, but they proved me wrong today. We gave them some open shots and confidence early, but they did play a lot better than we saw on tape, and we played a lot worse than they probably saw on tape.

Anthony Tucker had a great game. When they were down we were working for a comeback, big Tucker knocked down a lot of key jumpers and our guys didn’t close out hard enough and fast enough. One thing we always focus on is the drive and the penetrating kick, but we didn’t get there fast enough. We have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to be a great basketball team.”

On not getting off to a fast start like previous road games

“We’re a lot better basketball team than we showed today. There was a lot of other stuff going on, but there’s still no excuse. We didn’t come out to play. I always tell our guys you want to leave all your bad days and your sicknesses off the floor when you come to play, but like I said, today was a down day when it came to shooting around, having an early game, and traveling a lot.”

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