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Iowa 62, Indiana 60
Posted: Saturday March 09, 2002 05:32 PM
Iowa
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Indiana
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INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- If this keeps up, ESPN may have to make a movie about Luke Recker.

The former "Mr Basketball" in Indiana hit his second game-winning shot in as many days as Iowa continued its amazing success in the Big Ten Conference tournament with a 62-60 victory over his former team.

The Hawkeyes (19-14), who have won seven straight Big Ten tournament games, will play Illinois or Ohio State in Sunday's championship contest. Iowa will need another win to get into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid is not a possibility.

Indiana routed Iowa, 79-51, on February 5 but as the Hawkeyes have shown the last two years, the regular season does not not mean much.

"I can't describe what this feels like," Recker said. "Obviously, I struggled early on (in the season) and at Assembly Hall this year, but I think going through what I went through, it'd be tough for any kid to play in front of 17,500 people." Iowa will be trying to capture its second Big Ten tournament title in a city that has fond memories for the school. The Hawkeyes are playing in Indianapolis for the first time since they were here for the 1980 Final Four.

"For the second consecutive day we were down three points with a minute to go and we find a way to pull it out," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "At times we were playing basketball and there were other times it seemed like a mixture of a lot of sports out there." Twenty-two years later, Recker is creating more memories for Iowa. In Friday's 58-56 quarterfinal win over Wisconsin, he hit the game-winning shot with 2.8 seconds remaining and cut it even closer against Indiana.

For a while, however, it appeared Recker would not be able to get off a shot in time as he got the ball on the right wing with under two seconds left.

But he calmly dribbled to the baseline and released a jumper from inside the 3-point line with two-tenths of a second remaining. It hit nothing but net and left the Hoosiers (20-11) in shock.

Recker, who scored 17 points, carried the Hawkeyes in the final minute as he also hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds to tie the contest, 60-60.

Indiana had numerous chances on its next possession, but could not convert. After Jared Jeffries missed a jumper from the right corner, the Hoosiers crashed the boards, only to miss three straight follow attempts.

Recker finally got a defensive rebound and called timeout with 13 seconds remaining while falling out of bounds to give Iowa the final possession.

"Luckily, they kept missing shots," Recker said. "I just saw the ball, knew he had a timeout, so I made a quick timeout. I owe a lot of credit to my teammates for believing in themselves and not quitting. I can't say how proud I am of my teammates and I love each and every one of them." The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten tournament as a No. 6 seed last season, beating Indiana, 63-61, in the championship game. This season, they will try to win it as a No. 9 seed.

"I wish I could put my finger on it (regular-season struggles)," Recker added. "I know coach wishes he could. Now we wipe the slate clean. We still have a chance to do what we want to do and that's go to the NCAA Tournament." Saturday's contest was eerily similar to last year's final, when Iowa rallied from a 55-47 deficit. This time, the Hawkeyes erased a 51-43 deficit in the final seven minutes.

A.J. Moye scored 14 points and Tom Coverdale added 11 for the Hoosiers, who were trying to reach the Big Ten title game for the second straight year.

"I'm not happy that we lost," Indiana coach Mike Davis said. "But a lot of these guys played with Recker. What you have to understand is, when you go out on the court, you go to compete. They guy drove the baseline, he got cut off, pulled up on a dime. He made a big-time shot." The last two days represent another chapter in the story of Recker's life, which has resembled a soap opera. He spent the first two years of his career at Indiana before suffering a near-fatal automobile accident. He sat out the entire 1999-2000 season before resuming his career at Iowa.

"The people of Indiana have been great to me," Recker said. "I love this state, my family still lives here. I'm very fond of Indianapolis." Recker helped make amends for somewhat of a disappointing regular season by scoring 24 of his 28 points against Wisconsin in the second half. He got off to another slow start against Indiana with only three points in the first half.

After Recker's layup gave Iowa a 41-40 lead with 10:35 left, the Hawkeyes went more than five minutes without a basket. Indiana appeared to take control, grabbing a 55-47 lead on Tom Coverdale's two free throws with 5:13 left.

But Recker began Iowa's comeback with a 3-pointer and then converted a pair from the line to make it 55-52 with 4:36 left. Duez Henderson hit two more foul shots for Iowa, tying the contest, 56-56, with 2:52 remaining.

Jeffrey Newton's layup gave Indiana a 58-56 lead with 2:18 left. After Reggie Evans split two free throws for Iowa, Coverdale made two, staking Indiana to a 60-57 lead with 1:13 to play.

 


 
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