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Iowa snaps 3-game losing streak

Thursday, January 24, 2002

IOWA CITY - In finding a cure for its own ills, Iowa extended Michigan State's.

Iowa broke a three-game losing streak and might have ended Michigan State's last hope of winning a fifth straight Big Ten championship by beating the Spartans 75-71 Tuesday night.

Three nights after playing miserably in a 63-50 loss at Northwestern that knocked the Hawkeyes out of the Top 25, they responded with a solid effort that featured contributions from everyone.

"We have been through a lot in the last 10 days," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "I told the guys I remember my sophomore year at Indiana when nothing went right. I gave the game ball to the whole team."

Iowa responded after two days of tough practices, and Luke Recker and Pierre Pierce came through after being held out of the starting lineup for the first time this season.

Alford made the players shoot free throws and run steps when they got back from Northwestern at 2:30 a.m. Sunday. He also took away some of the team's luxuries, making the players' lounge off-limits, removing their nameplates and pictures from the locker room.

"We didn't deserve them to be quite honest with you," Recker said. "Actually on the bus ride back I told a couple of the guys, 'get ready when we get home. We probably won't have much in the locker room and we'll probably be practicing.'

"They didn't believe me. But when you're in it for five years, you start to learn some things."

Michigan State is learning that it's tough to play short-handed. Forward Adam Wolfe missed Tuesday night's game because of a hamstring injury and Alan Anderson, bothered by a sore knee, was ineffective while playing only 17 minutes.

Then, with the game hanging in balance, post players Adam Ballinger and Aloysius Anagonye fouled out trying to guard Reggie Evans.

"I'm getting sick and tired of coming up short," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose team lost a one-point game to Wisconsin and a three-pointer at Minnesota. "We need to regroup and try to take it out on Michigan."

Recker and Evans led Iowa with 16 points each, and Recker and Pierce made clutch free throws at the end.

Recker's free throw tied the score at 71 with 1:03 left. Then it was Pierce's turn. He stripped the ball from Marcus Taylor as Taylor drove to the basket, got fouled and sank two free throws with 22.3 seconds remaining for a 73-71 Iowa lead.

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