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February 23, 2012
Gatens shoots Hawkeyes past Badgers
IOWA CITY -- Sometimes, you just get outshot. And sometimes, it's just one player that does the damage.
Once Matt Gatens got going Thursday, he was nearly impossible to stop. And that made a tough night for Wisconsin.
Between Gatens' shooting and uncharacteristic first-half turnovers, the Badgers fell behind early as the Hawkeyes energized the crowd of 14,248 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Despite a big second half run, UW could not climb back against the Hawkeyes, who came away with the 67-66 victory.
The question is, was it was more the hot shooting of Gatens, who scored 33 points while going 7-for-10 from 3-point range, or the 11 first-half turnovers by the Badgers, who average just nine per game?
"Both," Jordan Taylor said. "Anytime you have that many turnovers and a guy gets hot, it's not a good thing."
Gatens' 33 points were the most scored by a Badgers opponent since Stephen Curry also put up 33 for Davidson in the NCAA tournament on March 28, 2008.
Entering the game having connected on each of his last seven attempts from beyond the arc, Gatens hit five more in a row before missing Thursday night.
"A kid goes for 33 points, that says it all," said Ryan Evans, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half. "It was mostly the 33 coming from one person, and shooting them at a high percentage."
Gatens added two more threes over his final five attempts, as well as shooting 5-for-8 inside the perimeter and 2-for-3 at the free throw line.
Despite the best efforts of some of the Badgers' best defenders -- including Josh Gasser and Evans -- Gatens accounted for nearly half of the Hawkeyes' points on the night.
"He made some incredible shots," said Ben Brust, who had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting. "Got to give them credit, they hit some timely shots. When we were making runs they would come back and hit another shot."
Brust did his part, along with Rob Wilson to give Wisconsin a much-needed spark off the bench in the second half. After adding just two points between them in the first half, Brust and Wilson combined for 19 second-half points, much of which came during a 12-2 run that cut into what was once a 13-point Iowa margin.
But it was all too little, too late.
Iowa scored 12 points on 11 Wisconsin turnovers in the first half, compared with just two Badgers points off turnovers.
"Bad decisions. That's why it's called a turnover," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "I don't think you can describe it any other way. Guys were anxious to make the great play rather than a good play. It's part of the game, but usually for us it's not. We need to make better decisions."
Typically as sure-handed a guard as they come, Taylor contributed four turnovers himself, against just four assists. In fact, each starter for Wisconsin had at least one turnover, with Evans and Mike Bruesewitz contributing two apiece, and one each for Jared Berggren and Gasser.
Many of the turnovers led to open looks for the Hawkeyes, including several dunks that amped up the larger-than-usual Iowa crowd.
"In the big picture, that's probably the thing that cost us the game," Gasser said of the turnovers. "We just didn't take care of the ball. Off those they got easy looks around the rim and a couple transition threes. Really, their only looks of the game were in transition off our turnovers."
While overshadowed by Gatens' hot shooting, the Badgers had an above average shooting night themselves.
In fact, Wisconsin shot a better percentage (50.9) than Iowa (48). Unfortunately for UW, it did not translate to a win, and Thursday's loss snapped a 54-game winning streak in games that the Badgers shot a better percentage than their opponents.
No matter how it happened, though, a loss is a loss to the Badgers. No more, no less.
Said Taylor, matter-of-factly: "It's frustrating when you lose."