Saturday, March 17, 2001

Iowa relies on defense to hold UK




By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Iowa's next opponent is Kentucky in today's NCAA Tournament second round, but you'd think it was Indiana. Everybody wants to talk about the Hoosiers. Except the Hawkeyes. Particularly coach Steve Alford.

        Speculation throughout college basketball is Alford, who led the Hoosiers to the 1987 national title, might be offered Indiana's coaching job after the season.

UK vs. IOWA
  • When: 8 p.m. today.
  • Where: Nassau Coliseum (16,115), Uniondale, N.Y.
  • Records: UK, 23-9; Iowa, 23-11.
  • TV: Ch.12, 7.
  • Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).
  KENTUCKY
  Player-Ht-Yr-Avg
Tayshaun Price-6-9-Jr.-16.8
Jason Parker-6-8-Fr.-8.4
Gerald Fitch-6-3-Fr.-6.8
Keith Bogans-6-5-So.-16.9
Saul Smith-6-2-Sr.-6.5
  Coach: Tubby Smith (109-32, fourth season; 233-94 overall)
  IOWA
  Player-Ht-Yr-Avg
Glen Workey-6-7-Fr.-7.5
Duez Henderson-6-7-Jr.-6.3
Reggie Evans-6-8-Jr.-15.0
Brody Boyd-5-11-Sr.-5.8
Dean Oliver-5-11-Sr.-14.6
  Coach: Steve Alford (37-27, second season; 193-104 overall)
  BY THE NUMBERS
  • 6-1: Iowa's record this season at neutral sites.
  • 42: UK's record number of appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
  • 48.1: Kentucky's field goal percentage this year. The past three times UK shot 48 percent from the field, the team advanced to the Final Four — 48 percent in 1993, 48.7 in 1996 and 48.2 in 1998.
        The situation has made it difficult for the Hawkeyes to address the task at hand: playing UK without Luke Recker, who is injured.

        Recker, you may remember, started his career at ... er ... Indiana.

        “It kind of bothers me, the questions about that (Indiana) situation,” Iowa guard Dean Oliver said. “We deserve more attention for us instead of what is going on in another institution. I think it's kind of ridiculous.”

        Alford wants no part of the situation, though talk of IU coach Mike Davis' future increased after the Hoosiers' first-round exit from the tournament Thursday night.

        During a Wednesday press conference, Alford exploded when asked a question about the IU job, saying he didn't want to “freaking” talk about it.

        Alford did want to talk Friday about today's game against UK, which survived a near-upset by Holy Cross in the first round. UK (23-9) beat the Crusaders on Thursday 72-68 behind 27 points from junior Tayshaun Prince and 17 from sophomore guard Keith Bogans.

        “Kentucky is a great transition team,” Alford said. “They can score in many ways. Not just Bogans and Prince, but also (freshman center Jason) Parker. He can post you up.

        “There are always four guys on the floor who can do many things.”

        Iowa (23-11) hopes its stingy defense will shut down UK.

        In winning the Big Ten Tournament, the Hawkeyes held opponents to less than 36-percent shooting and less than 64 points a game.

        For the season, UK averaged almost 80 points a game and shot 48 percent.

        “Iowa is a very solid squad,” UK coach Tubby Smith said. “They set a lot of screens and use a lot of motion offense. I felt our rebounding and pressuring of the ball was poor against Holy Cross. We addressed those issues today” in practice.

        Iowa, which beat Creighton in the first round 69-56, has adapted to life without Recker.

        The Hawkeyes' leading scorer was averaging 18.1 points a game when he injured his knee Jan.27. Alford said Recker won't play tonight, but has indicated the longer Iowa lasts, the more chance the 6-foot-6 junior will be ready to see some action.

        Also missing for today's game will be junior guard Ryan Hogan, who also has a knee injury. Hogan transferred from Kentucky after the 1998-99 season.

        UK will focus on stopping Iowa's Oliver, a senior averaging 14.6 points and almost five assists a game, and 6-8 junior forward Reggie Evans.

        Evans averages 15 points and almost 12 rebounds. He was the Big Ten Tournament Most Valuable Player.

        “They're a great team,” Bogans said. “They have one of the best rebounders in the country, Reggie Evans. They keep coming at you. We know we'll have our hands full.”

        The previous time the teams played was in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. UK won 75-69 in Salt Lake City.

        Iowa freshman forward Glen Worley said the Hawkeyes won't be intimidated by UK, a seven-time NCAA champ that has won 20 of its past 24 games.

        “I expect it to be a battle of the big men,” Worley said. “They've got a lot of players with size.

        “We are not going to be afraid of them just because they have a "UK' on them,” he said. “We are just going to go out there and try to compete with them.”

Online pool and college hoops coverage at Cincinnati.com



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