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Nearly a decade later, Luke Recker looks back

[ 10 ] February 4, 2011 |

In this March 9, 2002 photo, Iowa's Luke Recker hits the winning shot over Indiana's Jared Jefferies. (AP file photo)

Bloomington, Ind. ­ — It's been almost a decade since Luke Recker delivered the dagger to his former school. His last-second baseline floater, over the fingertips of Indiana's Jared Jeffries, gave Iowa a 62-60 victory in the semifinals of the 2002 Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.

“That game is my favorite basketball memory by far,” said Recker, 32, now the father of two and a medical supplies salesman living in Iowa City.

Iowa and Indiana meet again today at 3 p.m. in Assembly Hall. When Recker played, these two programs shared national attention. Not now. The Hawkeyes are 2-8 in the Big Ten and 9-13 overall after Wednesday's 72-52 victory against Michigan State. The Hoosiers are 3-7 and 12-11, but have defeated ranked teams Illinois and Minnesota in their last two home games.

“It's amazing to look, 10 years later, because no one would have thought Iowa and Indiana would be at the bottom of the Big Ten,” Recker said. “I think both programs will eventually work their way back up. (Indiana's) Tom Crean is a good coach. I think Fran (McCaffery) is a good coach.

“Unfortunately, you can't turn it around overnight.”

Recker was adored by Hoosier faithful, a former Indiana Mr. Basketball who played two seasons for the Hoosiers and coach Bob Knight.

“It's amazing how they can love you one second and hate you the next,” Recker said. “That's sports.” Recker left the program after his sophomore season and decided to transfer to Arizona.

“I loved Indiana socially, but it wasn't the right fit for me basketball wise at the time,” Recker said.

Recker's plans changed again when he was involved in a tragic auto accident near Durango, Colo., in July of 1999 that left his former girlfriend, Kelly Craig, paralyzed, seriously injured her brother and kil

led the driver of the car they were riding in.

Recker, who broke his wrist and had injures that required nearly 200 stitches, decided to play closer to home and came to Iowa, coached by another former Mr. Indiana Basketball in Steve Alford. Knight was gone by the time Recker first faced Indiana, on Jan. 27, 2001 in Iowa City. Down 17 points at halftime, Recker scored 17 of 27 points the second half as Iowa won a CBS nationally televised game, 71-66.

“My (future) wife (Megan Welch) was in the stands for that game,” Recker said. “We didn't even know each other at the time. She said that's when I won her heart.”

Recker played that game with a bone bruise in his right knee. During the game he fractured his right kneecap, and was lost for the season.

Recker had to play at Assembly Hall for the first and only time as a senior, in 2002. With chants of “Recker Sucks” and “Traitor” ringing in his ears, Recker scored just eight points and Iowa was crushed, 79-51

“Indiana basketball fans are very passionate,” Recker said. “They're great fans. Unfortunately, for the 95 percent of them that are great fans, there¹s maybe 5 percent that take it too far.” Recker got redemption in the 2002 Big Ten Tournament. He scored 17 points including the game's final basket against a team that ended up the national runner-up.

“It was a special, special feeling,” Recker said. “And something I'll never forget.”

The game:
WHO: Iowa (9-13, 2-8 Big Ten) at Indiana (12-11, 3-7)

WHERE: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.

TIPOFF: 3 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN2.

RADIO: WHO-AM (1040), D.M.

STATISTICAL LEADERS: For Iowa ‹ Matt Gatens 13.3 ppg, Melsahn Basabe 6.6 rpg, Bryce Cartwright 5.4 apg; for Indiana ‹ Verdell Jones 12.9 ppg, Derek Elston 3.9 rpg, Jordan Hulls 3.7 apg.

ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Iowa¹s 58-43 triumph at Indiana last season was its only Big Ten road triumph the past three seasons.

ABOUT THE HOOSIERS: Indiana will be trying to win it fourth consecutive Big Ten home game for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

WHAT TO WATCH: Iowa won the first meeting, 91-77, on Jan. 23. Indiana has allowed 49 and 57 points in its last two home games.

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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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