Demons seek upset of Hawkeyes in NCAA Tournament
(Sports Network) – The 14th-seeded Northwestern State Demons have had
their best season in program history, but they enter the first round of
the 2006 NCAA Tournament as heavy underdogs against the third-seeded Iowa
Hawkeyes. Awaiting the winner is a second-round clash with either sixth-
seeded West Virginia or 11th-seeded Southern Illinois. Northwestern State won
the Southland Conference regular season crown and went on to capture the
league tournament championship as well. The Demons are making their second
NCAA Tournament appearance in their 30-year Division I history, and they
hope to build on their school-record 25 victories. They carry a seven-game
win streak into the “Big Dance” and certainly aren’t pushovers.
Iowa has won five straight games and is coming off a thrilling triumph over
Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament title matchup. The Hawkeyes have 25
victories thus far, the second-best total in program history. They own a
27-23 NCAA Tournament record and have advanced past the first round in 10
of their last 11 appearances. This afternoon’s contest marks the first-ever
meeting between Iowa and Northwestern State on the hardwood.
Clifton Lee scored 22 points for Northwestern State in the Southland
Conference Tournament championship win over Sam Houston State, and Lee was
named the tournament’s MVP for his efforts. He is the only double-digit scorer
on the Northwestern State roster, as Lee is posting 14.2 ppg on 52.4 percent
shooting from the floor to go along with 6.4 rpg. Despite that fact, the
Demons are averaging a solid 76.7 ppg while allowing opponents to net 70.0
ppg. Jermaine Wallace is averaging 9.8 ppg to place second on the squad, and
Luke Rogers adds 9.4 ppg to the mix despite his sub-40 percent shooting. Lee
was recently selected to the All-Southland First Team, and head coach Mike
McConathy was a repeat winner of SLC Coach of the Year.
Greg Brunner is the leading rebounder in Iowa history, and Jeff Horner is tops
all-time in assists. Add Adam Haluska to the mix and the Hawkeyes boast one of
the more formidable trios in the nation. Brunner is scoring 14.1 ppg to go
along with 9.2 rpg, and he plays hard every second he is on the court. Haluska
is close behind in scoring with 13.8 ppg, while Horner, who has been the
team’s top offensive performer in each of the last four games, adds 13.7 ppg
to go along with 165 assists. Horner is shooting below 40 percent from the
field, but he has been hot recently and still has more than twice as many
assists as turnovers.
The Hawkeyes are scoring 66.4 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting from the
floor, and they are limiting opponents to only 58.8 ppg on 38 percent
efficiency from the field. An obvious key to Iowa’s success this season is
that it has attempted nearly 200 more free throws than its foes.