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Alford's tough love pays off for No. 24 Hawkeyes

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa coach Steve Alford proved that
nothing motivates a team more than old-fashioned discipline.

After a lackluster performance in an overtime loss at
Northwestern earlier in the week, Alford kept four of his starters
out of the opening lineup Saturday. The decision paid big dividends
as the Hawkeyes (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP), led by 25 points from Pierre Pierce,
coasted past Indiana 72-57.

"The benching occurred because I felt there had to be
consequences when guys don't perform the way they have to," said
Alford, who benched Pierce, Jeff Horner, Erek Hansen and Greg
Brunner.

"I just needed to send a message and I think the guys responded
in a very positive way," he said.

Did they ever.

The Hawkeyes (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten) came out aggressive on defense,
protected the ball and shot 65 percent from the free throw line --
areas the team failed miserably in during the loss to the Wildcats.

Pierce made an immediate impact after taking the floor 2½
minutes into the game when he snatched a loose ball, drove the
length of the floor and hit the layup and ensuing free throw to
give Iowa an early 9-7 lead.

Horner scored 16 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point
range, and Brunner added 13 points and nine rebounds. Brunner's
basket at the 14:25 mark in the first half gave Iowa a lead it
never relinquished in handing Indiana (9-9, 4-3) its second
straight defeat.

"I think it gave them a wake-up call, a reminder of what
they're expected to do when they get out there," said Carlton
Reed, who benefited from Alford's decision by making his first
career start.

Freshman D.J. White led the Hoosiers for the second straight
game, tying a career high with 23 points and a team-high seven
rebounds.

But the Hoosiers again struggled with perimeter shooting,
hitting just 38 percent from the field. The Big Ten's worst 3-point
shooting team coming in, the Hoosiers made just 3-of-14 from behind
the arc, one game after a 2-of-19 effort in Wednesday's 70-65 loss
at Minnesota.

Bracey Wright also struggled offensively. The Big Ten's leading
scorer, averaging 19.1 points per game, had just 10 points on
4-of-12 shooting.

Indiana coach Mike Davis was at a loss to explain his team's
shooting woes.

"It's a mystery. We're just missing wide-open shots," Davis
said. "We didn't play with enough enthusiasm tonight. We did a
poor job of concentrating and paying attention to details."

Iowa opened the game with a starting lineup consisting of two
freshman, two reserves and starter Adam Haluska. The newcomers
responded, playing up tempo and keeping the game close in the early
minutes.

The Hawkeyes built a seven-point halftime lead then came out
strong in the second, quickly stretching the lead to 14 points when
Pierce hit a 15-foot jumper at the 15:55 mark.

Marshall Strickland brought the Hoosiers within seven when he
scored on a nifty drive down the lane with 6:42 to go. But Horner
followed with a long 3-pointer and the Hawkeyes never let the
Hoosiers get any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

The Hawkeyes' aggressive defense frustrated Indiana most of the
game. Iowa made 13 steals, including five from Pierce, blocked six
shots and forced 16 turnovers.

"We put the Northwestern game away, and if we go out and play
with the energy and effort we did tonight everything will be OK,"
Pierce said.