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Iowa shuts down Drake’s Simons

[ 0 ] December 17, 2011 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – The good news for Drake on Saturday was also the bad news: Six Bulldogs outscored Ben Simons.

For a team looking for alternate sources of scoring, that was a welcome sight.

But the Bulldogs couldn’t keep pace with Iowa, not with their leading scorer neutralized, and fell 82-68 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Simons entered the game averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game, but Iowa senior Matt Gatens clung to him throughout the contest, holding him scoreless in the first half and to just five points in all. Simons’ previous low total this season was 12.

Drake got 23 points from Rayvonte Rice, its second-leading scorer, but he was just 1-for-6 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

Instead, it was Jordan Clarke (10 points), Jeremy Jeffers (9), Karl Madison (7), Kurt Alexander (7) and Aaron Hawley (6) who helped keep the Bulldogs within striking distance.

Iowa isn’t the most muscular team in the Big Ten Conference. Not even close.

But the Hawkeyes pushed Drake around throughout the first half. For the Bulldogs, it was their second true road game of the season, and the second time they seemed to shrink from the challenge.

In the decisive first half, the Hawkeyes piled up a 26-12 advantage on points in the paint, turned seven offensive rebounds into 11 points and registered seven steals. Iowa won going away, much like Boise State did Nov. 30 in handing Drake a 108-64 beatdown.

“In their motion offense, it’s important when your man sets a screen to help; we overhelped,” Drake coach Mark Phelps said. “We would get two on the ball with no bite, and they would dump it down. So they were coming off pindowns, which is a big part of their offense, and we were coming and showing and overhelping. We’d emphasized that a lot. They did a good job finding open teammates when we committed two to the bite.”

The only two Bulldog players with Big Ten bodies, Jordan Clarke and Rice, were able to make an impact at times. But Clarke, a 6-foot-8 center, fouled out with 10 points and 10 rebounds in just 12 minutes on the court. And Rice was left to shoulder the load alone in a second half in which the teams essentially traded baskets.

Hawkeye players like freshman Aaron White (6-8, 225 pounds), sophomore Melsahn Basabe (6-7, 225) and sophomore Zach McCabe (6-7, 232) wore Drake down inside. White alone had nine points and five rebounds off the bench in the first half, after which Iowa led 44-30 and never relinquished control.

Basabe finished with 10 points and McCabe added eight.

“We just did a poor job keeping them out of the paint. It’s very simple,” Clarke said. “Guards got into the paint and we gave up second-chance points on offensive rebounds.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Mark Emmert: Mark Emmert is the assistant sports editor for The Des Moines Register. View author profile.

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