No. 17 Iowa 91, Wisconsin 65
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ The Iowa pep band sang ″Happy Birthday″ to Ruby Earl, who then settled down to celebrate her 67th birthday by watching grandson Acie have a career- high night in her honor.
″My grandma always says I’m great on her birthday, so I couldn’t let her down,″ Acie Earl said.
Earl scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead 17th- ranked Iowa to a 91-65 win over Wisconsin Wednesday night.
″The guys did a good job of getting me the ball at the right place and time where I could do some damage inside,″ Earl said as the Hawkeyes got their 21st win against eight losses for the season. They are 10-7 in the Big Ten with one game remaining.
″It was a good win for us,″ Iowa coach Tom Davis said. ″I’m pleased to get 21. We’d like to finish with a win against Illinois (Saturday), being our seniors’ last game at home.″
Earl made 11 of 13 shots from the field and 14 of 17 free throws as Iowa took control of the game late in the first half despite Wisconsin’s hot 3- point shooting.
″We felt Acie could have a good game against this club, but I don’t think we did anything special against them,″ Davis said.
″I made a few shots, and it got my confidence up,″ Earl said.
″We just didn’t have an answer in any of our defenses to stop their inside game,″ Wisconsin coach Stu Jackson said. ″I hope the next time we come back to this building we’ll play a better game. The bottom line is my team is not a very good basketball team right now.″
Kevin Smith added 14 points and Russ Millard 10 for Iowa.
″I think Kevin Smith is the key to this ballclub,″ Davis said. ″When he gets the team running, we’re a much better team.
″I thought some of our younger guys, Russ Millard, Kenyon Murray and Jimmy Bartels had a good game. Our bench played well.″
″I think we came out with a ready but relaxed attitude,″ Smith said. ″We were kind of scared because this is our third game in six days.″
Michael Finley scored 23 points for Wisconsin (14-12, 7-10).
″Wisconsin is a good solid club,″ Davis said. ″The only problem Wisconsin has this year is that the league is so tough.″
Iowa built its lead to 58-43 on Murray’s basket with 15:20 left, but Wisconsin shaved it to 58-50 on baskets by Jeff Petersen and Tracy Webster and a 3-pointer by Jason Johnsen.
That, however, was as close as the Badgers would come. Earl scored a field goal and two free throws and Wade Lookingbill also scored, pushing the Hawkeyes’ lead back up to 64-50.
″Mentally, we may be a little tired,″ Jackson said. ″We probably got to 7-7 in the Big Ten on mental toughness and emotion. Now it’s tough for us to come back from adversity. Now mentally, it’s tough.″
Wisconsin stayed in the game in the first half on its 8-of-15 3-point shooting. Iowa led 48-34 at intermission.
Earl had 17 points and Smith 11 for Iowa in the first half and the Hawkeyes built the lead to 34-20 on a 10-0 run midway through the period.