Iowa's NIT history good, bad, interesting

Sellouts and tiny crowds, big comebacks and blown leads

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Iowa has a 5-6 record in the National Invitation Tournament, spanning five NITs.

The Hawkeyes' four wins were by a total of 16 points. Their first five losses were by a total of 14 points. Six of the 11 games were decided by three points or less.

Some of it was quite fun for Hawkeye fans. Some of it was quite dreary. I guess the five wins would fit in the first category. I'm smart like that.

Here's the history of the Hawkeyes in the NIT:


Iowa 96, DePaul 87, at Rock Island, Ill.

Carver-Hawkeye was booked with the NCAA wrestling tournament. The Quad Cities was thrilled to host an Iowa game, and DePaul carried a lot more cachet with basketball fans back then. The crowd of 10,678 had a big old time.

Iowa led by as many as 21 points in the first half, but the Blue Demons rallied to take three different leads. But Jim Bartels made a 3-pointer with 1:05 left for an 88-83 Iowa lead, and the Hawkeyes won.

Iowa 66, Ohio 62, at Iowa City

Chris Kingsbury made three 3-pointers in the game's first four minutes, including one from 28 feet. Iowa had a 46-29 lead early in the second half, but the Bobcats came back to make it a thriller. Andre Woolridge made a jumper with :20 left in the game for a 65-62 Iowa lead, and Jim Bartels' sank a free throw with 3.2 seconds left to ice the win.

The attendance was 15,500, a sellout.

Penn State 67, Iowa 64, at Iowa City

Iowa was down 64-54 before another sellout crowd, but capped a 10-0 run with Jess Settles' two free throws with 10.6 seconds remaining.

Then freshman Pete Lisicky sank a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left, and the Hawkeyes failed in a game that would have sent them to New York for the NIT's semifinals.

Iowa blew an 18-5 lead in the game. Kingsbury got called for a deliberate foul when he deliberately bumped his chest into a Penn State player. Iowa's Kenyon Murray and Penn State's Rahsaan Carlton got technical fouls for poking each other. Woolridge and Penn Staet's Dan Earl wrestled each other to the floor.

Kingsbury suffered from back spasms after that day's shootaround, and was a miserable 1-of-10 from 3-point range. Iowa was 5-of-25.

Penn State lost in its NIT semifinal.


Georgia 100, Iowa 93, in Iowa City

Iowa was bummed about not reaching the NCAA tourney with a 20-10 record, but got to 20-11 with a horrible defensive effort.

Georgia, which came to Carver with a 16-14 record, shot 60.9 percent from the field and outrebounded the Hawkeyes, 47-31.

Freshman Ricky Davis had 19 points at halftime, six points in the second half. It was his last game at Iowa.

The attendance was 5,167.


LSU 63, Iowa 61, in Iowa City

LSU rallied from an 8-point deficit in the second half to win.

"I think this was a fitting end," Iowa Coach Steve Alford said. "Overall, it was a step backwards. We took a giant leap last year in winning a (Big Ten tournament) championship and really laying a foundation. We took a step backwards this year.

"We've got to learn from it. We've got to become tougher from it as coaches and tougher from it as players."

Luke Recker had been brilliant in the Big Ten tourney a few days earlier, when Iowa won three games before losing to Ohio State in the final. But he was just 4-of-16 from the floor in this game.

Pierre Pierce had 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

The crowd was 10,511.


Iowa 62, Valparaiso 60, in Iowa City

Iowa never had a chance to draw a crowd for this one. It got assigned a Monday night game by the NIT on Sunday night. With little time to sell tickets, little enthusiasm for Iowa's performance over the season (it was 15-13 entering the NIT), Iowa's students on spring break, the game played on St. Patrick's Day, and $20 for tickets to see a less-than-marquee opponent, the gathering of 2,761 was the smallest at home for Iowa men's basketball in the last who-knows-how-many years.

Chauncey Leslie scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including a driving off-balance jumper in the lane with 14.4 seconds left to give Iowa the 62-60 lead it would cling to for victory.

"I'm a senior. I wanted to put it in my hands, win or lose," Leslie said.

Iowa 54, Iowa State 53, in Ames

A crowd of 14,020 in Hilton Coliseum saw a game that was anything but pretty, but it sure was intense.

Iowa freshman point guard Jeff Horner sank a 3-pointer to tie the score at 53 with :43 remaining. Then ISU's Jackson Vroman missed two free throws. Iowa's Brody Boyd broke the tie by making one of two fouls shots with :21 left. ISU had two airballed the first of two foul shots and bricked the second. And Iowa's Brody Boyd made one of two free throws for a Hawkeye lead with :21 left. The Cyclones failed on two subsequent chances to score.

Horner leaped into fellow freshman Greg Brunner's arms after the game. Leslie rolled around on the court like a playful infant. Alford gave Leslie a leaping chest bump in the hallway outside the Hawkeyes' dressing room.

Georgia Tech 79, Iowa 78, in Iowa City

Guard B.J. Elder drove the lane and lofted a floater from about 8 feet that went over Iowa center Jared Reiner, hit the front rim, and bounced in with three-tenths of a second left to give Georgia Tech the victory before 9,038 fans.

It deprived us the chance to see Alford coach against Bob Knight and his Texas Tech team, with the winner going to the NIT's Final Four in New York.

Iowa had come back from a 36-18 deficit to lead by as much as four points on three occasions.

Leslie scored a career-high 27 points despite suffering from a bad wisdom tooth and a virus that made him lose five pounds. He wasn't available for postgame interviews because he was receiving medical treatment.

Freshman Chris Bosh scored 17 points for Tech. After the season, he entered the NBA draft and was the fourth pick in the draft, by the Toronto Raptors.


Saint Louis 70, Iowa 69, in St. Charles, Mo.

A third-straight season of finishing in the NIT wasn't what Iowa had in mind. Nor was playing Saint Louis in the St. Charles Family Arena, in St. Louis' west suburbs. The downtown arena the Billikens normally use was booked with the NCAA wrestling championship.

"The bus ride will do us good," Alford said the day before the game. "Nobody is probably very excited about it, me included. That will give us a chance to clear our minds of everything else and know that this is the task at hand. Knowing this group, they'll respond pretty well."

Saint Louis won before a crowd of 5,674 on Anthony Drejaj's buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right corner. It was the Billikens' first lead since the game's second minute. Pierce had made a left-handed lay-in with :05 left for a 69-67 Iowa lead. Iowa was up by 18 points at one point in the first half.

"We've just got to get rid of our bad karma, that's one thing," Brunner said. "I don't know what's going on there. We can never catch a break. Once we get rid of that, we might be in a good situation."


Iowa 84, Dayton 75 in Iowa City

Aaron White had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Zach McCabe was 9-of-9 from the field in scoring 20 points. Melsahn Basabe had 15 points in 14 minutes.

"Those three guys are really good players. Smart, tough, and they're just getting great experience right now," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

It was Iowa's first postseason win in nine years.

Iowa had a raucous crowd of 13,190.

Oregon 108, Iowa 97 in Eugene, Ore.

Iowa opened a 31-16 lead midway through the first half, making six of its first seven 3-pointers. But the Ducks scored 61 points in the second half, shooting 59 percent.

Devyn Marble had 31 points for the Hawkeyes, a career-high. He made 7 of 8 three-pointers after making just 15 threes in Iowa's first 34 games.

“I know I can shoot the ball,” said Marble. “I know a lot of people think that’s not my strong point, and statistically I would not blame you for saying that. But I know I can shoot the ball, and I’ve been working on it.”

It was the highest-scoring regulation between Division I teams all season.

“Offensively, we can’t play any better,” McCaffery said.

Defensively ... well, Iowa's defense got a whole lot tighter in the 2012-13 season.


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