We hope our readers were fortunate enough to join us for last night's surreal open thread (don't worry, the dick talk doesn't last past the first third of the comments). If not, we hope you could at least watch last night's game (Hawkeye State could not, despite living in the, y'know, Hawkeye State), because it was great fun to see the Hawkeyes do something they hadn't done since 1999: win at Cedar Falls. (link pops to PDF; Iowa/UNI record is on pg. 16)
Needless to say, Iowa covered the line I had set for the game yesterday, with UNI giving eleventy billion points. It was clear to see two things about Tony Freeman's return:
- Without him, Iowa probably loses;
- He came back way too early.
Freeman was hobbling during his time on the court, but he still managed to hit all three of his shots behind the arc, and he had a great "where the hell did that come from" layup to push Iowa's lead back to seven late in the ballgame. His foot's nowhere near 100% and he probably shouldn't see the court until after the finals layoff, but I doubt that'll stop him from playing about 20 minutes a game against ISU and Drake anyway.
Giving Freeman credit for the win, however, ignores the contributions that came from everyone on the floor. Jake Kelly led the way with 19 points, and he looked great in doing so. He shot well from long range (3-5), and put some shots in close to the basket. He may look like he's 12, but the kid can ball. Cyrus the Virus chipped in eight points in 20 minutes before fouling out, Looby and Tate were holy terrors on the glass (six offensive boards), and even J.R. Angle out-hustled the Panthers to some loose balls and rebounds.
There was, of course, plenty of work left to be done; this is 2007 Iowa basketball, after all. But the fact remains that this is easily Iowa's biggest win of the year, and maybe--just maybe--these kids are learning how to play real basketball.