EDITOR'S NOTE: Hawk Talk Daily will continue a modified publication schedule through late July when the Big Ten Conference's football coaches huddle in Chicago for the annual Big Ten Kickoff Meetings, the event that officially kicks off the 2012 college football season for the Iowa Hawkeyes. HTD will still arrive each morning in your e-mail inbox but with content for five of every seven days - a schedule that will be interrupted when warranted -- being drawn from the 2011-12 athletics year... a "Best of" series.
MADISON, Wis. -- Freshman Aaron White scored 18 points and senior Bryce Cartwright finished with 17 points to lead the University of Iowa men's basketball team to a statement, 72-65, road victory at No. 11 Wisconsin on Dec. 31 in the Kohl Center.
Iowa's win snapped Wisconsin's 23 game home winning streak against non-ranked opponents. It was the Badgers' second loss in in 61 games (59-2) during the Bo Ryan era against non-ranked conference teams, and it was Iowa's first road win since 2006, a 70-67 victory at No. 21 Indiana.
"Anytime you beat the 11th-ranked team on the road, it's a statement victory for where your kids are mentally," said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. "You're seeing this team grow up, and you saw a team play with maturity. Six weeks ago they weren't playing with that level of maturity."
"We showed some resiliency," said Cartwright. "There winning percentage is kind of crazy (in the Kohl Center), over 90 percent, and we came in determined and defied the odds."
White's 18 points came on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Cartwright made 7-of-12 field goals en route to 17 points to go along with five assists. Sophomore Melsahn Basabe added 14 points and nine rebounds, while senior Matt Gatens had a game-high 12 rebounds.
"Bryce was really comfortable," said McCaffery. "He was pushing it and had a good feel of when to give it up, when to go and when not to go. His decision-making was phenomenal, and he made shots."
The Hawkeyes shot 49.2 percent (29-of-59) from the floor and 33.3 percent (2-of-6) from 3-point range. Iowa's bench outscored Wisconsin, 37-16, and the Hawkeyes had a 14-2 advantage in fast break points. Iowa's 72 points are the most points against the Badgers this season, as UW entered the game leading the nation with a 44.4 scoring defense.
"Our transition game was the key to getting 72," said McCaffery. "And it was key to taking their defensive abilities out of the game. They're going to be up in you, but they can't do that in transition."
Iowa's defense showed marked improvement from the Big Ten opener, limiting Wisconsin to 34.8 percent (24-of-69) shooting and 3-of-28 (10.7 percent) from 3-point range. Iowa also out rebounded the Badgers, 41-39.
"It was a tremendous effort and concentration game, collectively," said McCaffery. "This was 40 minutes of everybody together, concentrating on effort and battling. You're not going to stop them every time, but you have to battle them on every possession."
After going into the break tied at 31, Wisconsin delivered the first blow of the second half, using a 7-0 run to build a 38-31 advantage. White provided the Hawkeyes with a spark, hitting a 3-pointer to end the Badger run, and scoring nine of Iowa's first 11 points of the second half. His dunk at the 12:50 mark evened the tally at 42.
With the score knotted at 44, Iowa used a 6-0 spurt to grab a 50-44 lead. After Wisconsin closed the gap to 50-48, the Hawkeyes used an 11-2 run to build their advantage to 61-50 with 4:49 remaining. Cartwright and White combined for nine of the 11 points.
Iowa built its lead to 12 points (64-52) on a Roy Devyn Marble free throw with 3:35 remaining, but Wisconsin used a six point possession to keep the pressure on Iowa. Josh Gasser was fouled by Basabe going in for a layup and a post play elbow resulted in a technical foul. Gasser made all four free throw attempts and followed with a lay-up to cut Iowa's lead to 64-58 with 3:06 left.
The Hawkeyes led 68-60 with 1:50 remaining before Taylor drained a triple to make the score 68-63, and Ben Brust had a steal and lay-up to trim the margin to three (68-65) with 47 seconds remaining.
Iowa didn't panic, as it executed its offense, and Marble drained a short jumper from the right baseline to seal the win.
Four Badgers finished in double figures with Taylor pacing the squad with 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Gasser added 11 to go along with a team-best eight rebounds.
The Hawkeyes opened the game strong, building a 12-4 lead over the first six minutes behind six points by Basabe. Wisconsin then went on a 9-4 run, which was capped off by a three point play from Taylor to make the score 16-13.
Back-to-back jumpers by Josh Oglesby and Cartwright helped Iowa stretch its advantage back to six points (24-18) with seven minutes remaining in the first half. The Badgers, however, scored the next nine points to take a 27-24 lead. The two teams ended the half deadlocked at 31.
Wisconsin shot 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and went 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) from 3-point land. Iowa shot 42.4 percent (14-of-33) from the field and went 0-for-3 from long range.
"We need to use this game to build momentum," said Cartwright. "We can't be satisfied with this win; we need to keep building."