It's been a long time.
It's been such a long damn time.
The Iowa Hawkeyes, a team that has looked incapable of getting over the hump in a big game for over a year, walked into the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill and walked out as 60-55 winners Wednesday night. Mike Gesell, playing opposite former AAU teammate Marcus Paige, led the Hawkeyes with 16 points on 6/10 shooting. Adam Woodbury -- Yes, THAT Adam Woodbury -- added 11 points and 7 rebounds. Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White struggled from the field, combining to shoot just 2/19 (White went without a field goal) but hammered the boards in the second half, hauling in 19 rebounds between them.
Iowa knocked off the No. 12 Tar Heels despite getting points from six players for one simple reason: UNC couldn't throw it in the ocean. North Carolina shot just 19/68 from the field and a horrendous 4/23 from behind the arc. Iowa's size in the interior pushed the Tar Heels to the perimeter, where they never found their form. Iowa blocked six shots, five coming from Uthoff. It was so tough for North Carolina in the paint that Paige, driving the lane for a potential tying layup late in the game, veered away from Woodbury in the post and into the path of Anthony Clemmons, who drew the charge.
It was an ugly game -- Iowa only shot 33 percent from the field and 15 percent from three, hardly any better than North Carolina -- but it was the only kind of game that Iowa was going to win. And despite giving up their now-famous bad final possession at the end of the first half and enduring their now-legendary second half scoring drought, Iowa hung with an ostensibly better opponent, and they did it with defense and tenacity and toughness in the interior. It's not a signature win unless something comes of it, but it's a start.
The second-best part: The win clinches the Big Ten-ACC Challenge for the B1G, meaning you can root against Bo Ryan tonight without care. This is also Iowa's first ever road win in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Given that Rutgers has one, it was probably time.
Those Vitale tears, they taste so sweet.
Go Hawkeyes, baby.