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Gatens’ career-high helps shock No. 18 Indiana

[ 1 ] February 19, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Matt Gatens was struggling with his jump shot. Iowa’s senior guard had missed six of eight field-goal attempts in the first half of Sunday’s game with No.18 Indiana, including three errant 3-pointers in four tries.

As he headed back to the floor for the second half Gatens was stopped by former NBA guard and noted sharpshooter Bobby Hansen, who gave him a tip.

“The guy knows what he’s talking about,” said Gatens, who made all six second-half 3-point attempts, was 8-for-10 overall and scored a career-high 30 points in Iowa’s 78-66 victory before an announced crowd of 13,282 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Box score: Iowa 78, Indiana 66

Hansen, a former Hawkeye standout and now Iowa’s radio analyst, saw a flaw in Gatens’ release in the first half.

“Sometimes he gets a little squirrely with his release,” Hansen said. “I told him to just release that thing off his index finger and middle finger. It keeps the ball straight.”

That advice came in handy after Indiana had whittled a 19-point deficit to 10 with just under 8 minutes remaining. Gatens made five of those second-half 3-pointers from that point on.

“We needed to make some buckets,” said Gatens, who made a career-best seven 3-pointers in the victory. “Coach called a couple plays for me. You’ve just got to step up and make them.”

With the lead down to 52-42, and Iowa on a streak of eight straight empty possessions, Gatens made a 3 from the top of the key.

“The toughest one is the first one,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, whose team improved to 3-3 against Top 25 teams this season. “That gave us a little bit of breathing room, then he got confidence and we got confidence. Our defense perked up after that, and he just kept going. At the end of the shot clock from 25 feet, that was pretty good, too.”

The 25-footer McCaffery spoke of came with 6:36 to go, the shot clock about to expire and 6-foot-9 Christian Watford guarding him.

“You’ve got to make a play,” the 6-5 Gatens said. “I felt that was my best shot, pulling up from there rather than getting in the lane. It felt good. And it went in.”

Gatens, who made five straight second-half 3-pointers in an unsuccessful attempt to rally his team at Penn State Thursday, has never enjoyed a winning season, or post-season play, during his Hawkeye career. But he did finish with a perfect 4-0 against Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“That’s pretty good,” Gatens said. “And that was a pretty good team (Sunday). We needed to get them back for what happened over there (a 103-89 loss on Jan., 29). Defense was the key (Sunday).”

Indiana coach Tom Crean, whose team fell to 8-7 in the Big Ten and 20-7 overall, said Gatens was the most determined player on the floor even before his red-hot finish.

“He just took it to another level,” Crean said.

Iowa, playing without point guard Bryce Cartwright and forward Eric May because of injuries, got a huge lift from the bench. Most noteable was Melsahn Basabe, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots.

“The way he impacted the game was with his five blocks,” McCaffery said after his team improved to 14-13 overall and 6-8 in the Big Ten.

Devyn Marble struggled from the field, making just four of 17 shots, in a 10-point night, but he added seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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