IOWA CITY, Iowa — They've been playing basketball at the University of Iowa for a long time--1,782 games in 86 years to be exact--but the Hawkeyes never scored 124 points before Saturday night.
Of course they've only played UC Irvine twice.
Sixth-ranked Iowa hit the 100 mark with more than 10 minutes left in the second half and coasted to a 124-88 victory over Irvine in the championship game of the Amana-Hawkeye tournament, much to the delight of a sellout crowd of 15,500 in Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Earlier, Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan sat in his hotel room and explained that the Anteaters (who lost to Iowa, 105-103, last December) were going to run and gun as usual instead of changing their offense to try to keep the score down. Irvine, playing its best half of the season, still trailed by 16 (68-52) at halftime.
"I'm amazed at what a well-oiled machine Iowa is," Mulligan said afterward. "I don't know if we can play much better than that, but we were simply outmatched. They outshot us, outrebounded us and played better defense. Besides that, they didn't do much."
Iowa's previous high was 121 points against Notre Dame in 1970.
Iowa Coach Tom Davis admits to being a little amazed by the Hawkeyes' 6-0 start.
"It is a puzzle to me how quickly this team has come along," he said. "I've never been around a team that's as sharp as this one is this early in the season.
"We seem to be able to adapt to any tempo and still play well. This will probably be the last game this season at this tempo, though. Not many teams want to go flat out like Irvine. I wondered a few times if we shouldn't try to slow it down just a little."
The public address announcer would have voted for that. He hardly got out the name of one scorer before someone from the other team had popped in a jumper or slipped in a layup. The pace was, well, frenetic.
"We got a lot of easy shots, but so did they," Davis said. "I wasn't at all comfortable with the lead at the half. I mean it was nice to be up by 16, but the way they shoot three-pointers, no way was I comfortable."
Irvine (3-2) made 5 of 13 first-half three-pointers while shooting 54% from the field. But Iowa already had four players in double figures and three who had not missed a field goal or a free throw. Iowa shot 68% from the floor before the intermission.
Irvine freshman Justin Anderson, the designated shooter who found the range for the first time Saturday after going 4 for 20 from the field this season, hit a short jumper with 17:22 remaining in the game and Irvine trailed, 75-65.
One minute later, however, center Ed Johansen picked up his fourth foul and a minute after that, forward Wayne Engelstad picked up his fourth and it was all downhill for Irvine.
Anderson, who was 6 of 9 from the field (including 4 of 5 from three-point range), and guard Kevin Floyd led Irvine with 17 points each. Johansen had 14 points and 9 rebounds and Engelstad, an all-tournament team selection, finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out with 9:30 left.
Davis finally felt comfortable enough to send in the substitutes three minutes later with the Hawkeyes leading, 111-78.
Iowa was led by tournament most valuable player Bill Jones, who played guard and both forward spots and scored 20 points, and reserve guard Jeff Moe, who scored a team-high 24 points. Guard B.J. Armstrong (18 points) and forwards Al Lorenzen (16) and Roy Marble (15) were also in double figures.
Moe, Armstrong and Lorenzen also made the all-tournament team along with Jacksonville's Dee Brown, who led the Dolphins to a 69-64 victory over Navy in the consolation game.
The Anteaters were hurt--but not destroyed--by the Hawkeyes' full-court pressure zone defense. Irvine committed 24 turnovers.
"At halftime, we felt like we could beat their press and we know we're explosive enough to stay with them," Johansen said. "We got close and then went cold, though. But we're a young club and I think we can use this as a positive experience. We found out that a top team, with all the TV games and pub in national magazines, can be human too."
The Hawkeyes are human, for sure, and this game was simply a case of very talented humans playing up to their potential.
Later, a tournament official asked Mulligan if he'd like to come back again.
"Sure," he said, smiling. "And maybe they'll break the record again."