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Hawkeyes rely on free throws to secure win

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- A faster start and better defense was
just enough to get Iowa its first Big Ten victory.

Pierre Pierce augmented his 18 points with outstanding defense
and Iowa (No 23 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) beat Minnesota 66-60 on Saturday despite going the
final 10:45 without a field goal.

On a day the school's 1980 Final Four team was honored, the
Hawkeyes (13-3, 1-2) righted themselves after going through long
stretches of sloppy play in their first two conference games and
ended Minnesota's 10-game winning streak.

"I think the big key was we had a lot of energy and
enthusiasm," Pierce said. "We really focused on the defensive
end, trying to get pressure and have ball pressure. I think that
was the key to the game."

It certainly wasn't the Hawkeyes' offense. They shot only 34.5
percent and missed their final eight shots. But they got by with it
because Minnesota (12-4, 2-1) was even worse.

The Gophers shot just 29 percent (9-for-31) in the first half
and 33 percent for the game. They started poorly in both halves,
needing almost 5 minutes to make their first basket and going
nearly 7½ minutes before getting a field goal in the second half.

"I think Iowa did a great job disrupting us offensively
today," Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. "You just can't go on
the road and not start halves better than we did."

Pierce shut down Minnesota scoring leader Vincent Grier, holding
him to one shot and six points. Grier, who spent time on the bench
because of foul trouble, had been averaging 17.3 points.

"I wasn't frustrated," Grier said. "I just had an off
night."

Even with Grier and the Gophers struggling, Iowa couldn't put
them away. The Hawkeyes didn't make another field after Jeff
Horner's 3-pointer give them a 48-38 lead with 10:45 to play, but
hit 18 of 24 free throws to hold on.

Adam Haluska added 15 points for Iowa, Greg Brunner had 13
points and 11 rebounds and Horner scored 12 points.

Jeff Hagen, Minnesota's 7-foot, 270-pound center, led the
Gophers with 15 points and 12 rebounds and got Iowa's big men in
foul trouble. Rico Tucker added 10 points.

"That's probably our worst shooting performance of the year,"
Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "But I thought we got after them and
did a lot of good things to take things away from them. We won
because of that. It wasn't because of our shooting."

Leading by six points at halftime, Iowa outscored Minnesota 13-6
at the start of the second half to open a 45-32 lead.

Minnesota drew within 54-48 on Hagen's inside basket with 5:20
remaining but got no closer. The Gophers couldn't make the shot
they needed to start a run and Iowa kept making its free throws.
Haluska was 8-for-10 down the stretch, while Horner was 4-for-4.

Hurt by slow starts in consecutive losses to Michigan and Ohio
State, the Hawkeyes started strong in this one and the impetus came
from an unusual source.

Brunner, just 3-for-13 on 3-pointers coming in, hit two straight
from beyond the arc to put Iowa up 6-0 and the Hawkeyes led the
rest of the way.

"Bru really came off right away and gave us a big spark,"
Haluska said. "We hit some bumps (later), but I thought on the
defensive end we did a great job."

Pierce, who's right-handed, drew a roar from the crowd when he
raced up the court on a fast break, dribbled behind his back, spun
and banked in a soft layup with his left hand, making it 10-2 less
than 4 minutes in.

Brunner and Pierce had all the points in a 9-0 run that
stretched the lead to 29-13 before Minnesota put together its only
decent stretch, outscoring the Hawkeyes 13-3 to draw to 32-26 at
halftime on Tucker's baseline drive with 5 seconds remaining.

"We came out kind of flat in the second half," Grier said.
"We didn't ever get into a kind of flow like we wanted to, but our
defense hung in there. But they came out with a lot more intensity
than we did."

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