IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa senior Matt Gatens has often been viewed as the steady though unspectacular leader of a rebuilding Hawkeyes program.
Gatens finally showed how spectacular he can be against No. 18 Indiana on Sunday, burying the Hoosiers with a remarkable second-half shooting display.
Gatens scored a career-high 30 points and the Hawkeyes beat Indiana 78-66 on Sunday, snapping the Hoosiers' three-game winning streak.
Melsahn Basabe had 13 points and five blocks for the Hawkeyes (14-13, 6-8 Big Ten), who beat the Hoosiers in Iowa City for the seventh time in eight tries.
Iowa jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead and pushed it to 52-33 midway through the second half. Indiana closed to 10, but Gatens responded with four crucial 3s to guide the Hawkeyes to the easy victory.
"Gatens, who was the most determined player on the floor in my opinion the whole day anyway, just took it to another level," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "When he hit those shots, we just couldn't overcome it."
Freshman Cody Zeller had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for Indiana (20-7, 8-7), which is now just a game over .500 in the Big Ten and 2-6 in league road games.
"Give credit to Iowa. They came in and played a lot harder than we did. Outrebounded us, outdid us in pretty much everything, so that's all on us," said Indiana guard Jordan Hulls, who was held to two points.
This one quickly turned into a laugher early in the second half.
However, few would have guessed it'd be the Hawkeyes running away with it.
Iowa pushed its lead to 48-32 on a transition layup from Gatens. Seldom-used big man Andrew Brommer then broke through traffic for a tip-in, giving Iowa a 19-point edge with 12:13 to go.
The Hoosiers finally got going by scoring nine straight points to cut it to 52-42. But that's when the steady Gatens broke their momentum with a remarkable stretch of back-breaking 3s.
The first 3 from Gatens stopped Indiana's run, which had threatened to make things interesting. Gatens then rescued a lost possession with a 3 from at least 25 feet out to put Iowa back on top 58-44 with 6:36 to go.
Gatens also hit one from the corner and finished it off from the top of the key, making it 65-46 with 4:35 left.
"It was a lot of fun, but way more fun winning," Gatens said.
Gatens finished 7 for 10 on 3s, earning a serenade from the student section in one of the final home games of his career.
"He's not only one of the better shooters or guards in this league, he is one of the better ones in the country," Crean said. "That is a four-year guy who has been doing it at a high level."
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery and Crean each took issue with aspects of their team's performance after the Hoosiers whipped the Hawkeyes 103-89 three weeks ago.
Crean was upset that his team let Iowa shoot 63 percent from the floor. McCaffery was upset with pretty much everything after the Hawkeyes got outrebounded on the offensive glass 20-7.
Iowa crashed the offensive boards early and often this time around, matching their total from the last meeting in just over 12 minutes. The energetic Basabe was a big reason for that, as he came off the bench with nine points and six rebounds in the first half.
The Hawkeyes grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and 41 overall, six more than Indiana.
"The overall disappointment was that we didn't rebound or block out the way we needed to," Crean said.
Freshman Josh Oglesby, making just his second career start in place of the injured Bryce Cartwright, buried a deep 3 to give the Hawkeyes a 30-18 lead. It took a late 3 from Matt Roth to bring Indiana within 37-26 by halftime, and that was still was less than half of the 54 points the Hoosiers had the last time they faced Iowa.
"We needed to get them back for the one over there. Defense was the key," Gatens said.
Indiana managed just seven points in the first eight minutes of the second half, ensuring a surprisingly lopsided defeat to a team that started just one upperclassman.
Derek Elston had 13 points and Roth scored 12 — on four 3s — for Indiana. The rest of the Hoosiers shot just 2 of 12 from beyond the arc, and they also scored just eight second-chance points against an Iowa team that clearly wanted to atone for its miserable outing in Bloomington.
Despite being just a game over .500, the Hawkeyes are now 3-3 against ranked opponents.
"It's an example of what we're capable of," McCaffery said. "I think we have to look at that and say 'Alright, that's how good we can be.'"