Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
IOWA CITY, Iowa Upon further review, Iowa now has a new team blocks record.
The Hawkeyes (19-11, 8-9 Big Ten) recorded 13 blocked shots in their 63-55 win against Illinois on Tuesday. With 14 minutes left in the game, Iowa center Gabe Olaseni clearly blocked Joseph Bertrand's shot and Iowa's Aaron White picked up the rebound. Nobody initially was credited with a block, Iowa associate media relations director Matt Weitzel said Wednesday.
The discrepancy was noticed and identified by an Iowa on-court videographer and brought before the media relations staff, who deemed it a block.
Olaseni finished with seven blocks, tying for the seventh most in Iowa single-game history. He had three in the first half and four in the second.
"The coaching staff just gives me four things to concentrate on: Running the floor, rebounding, playing good defense and finishing around the rim," Olaseni said. "I finished around the rim once or twice. Obviously I defended, so I'm happy with the way I played."
"I know he's capable of doing it every night out because I played against him every day," Iowa center Adam Woodbury said. "It was good to see him come through for us."
Iowa's aggressive post presence dictated the tone of the game. The Illini were held to nearly 16 points below their season average and shot just 28.6 percent, well below their 42.8 percent average.
Of Illinois' 34 two-point attempts, nearly 39 percent were blocked. The Illini settled for nearly as many 3-point attempts (29) as two-point attempts (34). Iowa's blocks amounted to 52 percent of Illinois' missed two-point shots.
"My dad taught me one time that if you hit a wall and it hurts, don't run into it again," Illinois Coach John Groce said. "So when you drive, you might want to pass. We might want to adjust a little bit there. We tried to adjust, and I didn't think we did a great job of adapting and adjusting to that at all.
"Obviously (13) blocks is extraordinary. I think it speaks of Iowa's effort and how hard those kids played."
While Olaseni's presence was obvious, other players contributed to the Iowa block party. Both Woodbury and Aaron White had two blocks apiece. Iowa guard Josh Oglesby recovered after a turnover and blocked Tracy Abrams at the basket. The ball caromed off Abrams and sent Groce into a fit during a media timeout.
Iowa wing Eric May provided the game's most electrifying dunk when he slapped down a fast break dunk from D.J. Richardson less than four minutes into the game.
Olaseni was a force defensively midway through the second half. In a four-possession span, Olaseni registered four blocks, including two on a single possession. His blocks wrapped around the defense forcing an Illinois shot clock violation. The Hawkeyes increased their lead from seven points to 12 during the span.
Olaseni finished with two points, two rebounds and only two fouls in 19 minutes.
"Gabe's reaction was terrific," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "He went when he needed to. He was able to block shots without fouling. Then we picked up the loose balls after the blocked shots. I thought that was important, too."
"The coaching staff did an excellent job of emphasizing the need for aggressive defense in this," Olaseni said. "That's what I tried to bring when I checked in the game."
1. Defense stays strong. Iowa has produced an astounding turnaround on defense, especially from the perimeter. The Hawkeyes allowed 34.5 percent from 3-point range last year, sixth-best in the Big Ten. This year Iowa is on track to shatter its school record, allowing just 28.6 percent made 3-pointers. The school record previously was 31.8 percent, set in 2005-06.
Iowa also is tied for first in Big Ten defense with Indiana at 38.7 percent. McCaffery said defense Tuesday night kept the Hawkeyes in contention against Illinois.
"Last year we would have lost 77-63 if we shot 28 percent in the second half, played the defense the way we played last year," McCaffery said. "So it's showing you the team has really grown, and we're obviously much deeper."
2. Scrutinized players perform. Iowa's trio of Devyn Marble, Josh Oglesby and Adam Woodbury have heard their fair share of scrutiny this year for different reasons. Marble had a mid-season slump during a tough stretch of road losses. Oglesby entered the game last night shoting 26 percent from 3-point range. Woodbury, a top-50 recruit, averages just 4.7 points and 16 minutes a game in the post.
All three produced in a big way Tuesady. Marble scored 21 points, the seventh straight game he's led the Hawkeyes in scoring. Oglesby hit two big 3-pointers late to send Iowa from a two-point lead to eight points. Woodbury scored Iowa's first four points and finished with eight, tying his Big Ten high this year.
3. Home-court advantage. Iowa is 15-2 this season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa's losses were by a combined seven points to Indiana and Michigan State, and both are ranked in the top 10. The Hawkeyes have beaten four likely NCAA tournament teams at home -- Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
If the Hawkeyes don't squeeze into the NCAA tournament, they likely host two or three NIT games. If that happens, the Hawkeyes could become the tournament favorite.