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Minnesota clamps down in second half, tops Iowa

Jan 9, 2009 - 6:18 AM IOWA CITY, Iowa (Ticker) -- It was not pretty, but 19th-ranked Minnesota managed to do something that no other team accomplished against Iowa this season. The Golden Gophers won at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Travis Busch and Lawrence Westbrook each scored 10 points and Minnesota used a stifling defensive effort to edge Iowa, 52-49, on Thursday.

The Golden Gophers (14-1, 2-1 Big Ten) shot just 34 percent (19-of-56) from the field, including 5-of-22 from behind the arc, but managed to hand the Hawkeyes their first home loss of the season.

"We couldn't stop them off the dribble, and we tried to make some adjustments and it worked for us tonight," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Tough time shooting the ball, but any time you can get a win on the road in this league, it's a good win."

Iowa (11-5, 1-2) had just seven points over the first 15 minutes of the second half as the Gophers built an eight-point advantage after trailing by as many as 13 in the opening 20 minutes.

"I really believe it was the passiveness for about the 10-minute stretch there," Iowa coach Todd Lickliter told The Daily Iowan. "We didn't shoot it real well, but that wasn't it. They got to loose balls and when we tried to be aggressive, our decision making wasn't great.

It was a typical defensive battle in the Big Ten, with both teams struggling to get much going offensively and combining to shoot 12-of-45 from 3-point range.

An 8-0 run that started with 9:20 left and the game tied, 33-33, gave Minnesota the lead for good, but Iowa did its best to rally. After making just 1-of-9 shots to start the half, a pair of 3-pointers by Matt Gatens pulled the Hawkeyes within 43-39.

However Minnesota did just enough for the win, its second straight after dropping its conference opener to Michigan State. Jeff Peterson's 3-pointer cut Iowa's deficit to 50-49 with under six seconds left, but Westbrook sank a pair of free throws and Jake Kelly's half-court shot was off the mark.

"We're on the road," Busch told the Minneapolis newspaper. "There's no one here cheering for us, so we had to do it from within."

Peterson had 16 points while Gatens added 11 for Iowa, which had beaten 10 of its previous 13 ranked opponents at home.

The Hawkeyes played most of the game without senior Cyrus Tate, who sprained his right ankle after landing on the foot of Minnesota's Colton Iverson with 12:06 left in the first half.