Matt Gatens has Iowa playing spoiler to ranked teams

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It seems that Iowa has a bit of attendance problem. That’s why, with a Thursday night game against No. 16 Wisconsin being televised on ESPN2, the university offered so many bribes to students to try to get them to the game.

If the free tickets weren’t enough, the first 100 students got free ice cream, the first 500 students got free pizza and a rally towel and the first 2,000 students got a bobble head of Matt Gatens. And while free pizza, free ice cream and a bobble head is generally a memorable experience for any student, Gatens made sure that no one would forget about the night that his bobble head was handed out.

Gatens scored 18 of his 33 points in the first half as the Hawkeyes jumped all over Wisconsin early and held on down the stretch, winning 67-66 when Jordan Taylor banked in a meaningless three at the buzzer. In was the second straight home win over a ranked opponent, as the Hawkeyes were coming off of a 78-66 win over then No. 20 Indiana.

Gatens had 30 points in the win over the Hoosiers, hitting his last seven threes — including a four minute stretch at the end of the second half were he hit four of them. Gatens started the Wisconsin game by hitting his first five threes, meaning that not only did the senior guard go for 63 points in back-to-back upsets, he also knocked down 12 consecutive three pointers.

That’s impressive.

What’s more impressive is that there are actually people talking about the potential of Iowa — yes, Iowa — making the NCAA Tournament. Its not all that unreasonable. They now sit above Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois in the Big Ten standings. In addition to the two wins they have picked up in the last five days, the Hawkeyes have beaten No. 11 Michigan and won at Wisconsin. That’s good.

The bad?

Iowa has 13 losses right now and an RPI in the 130s heading into Thursday night. For a real chance at earning an at-large bid, Iowa needs to win their last three games of the regular season and make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament.

But the fact that they even warrant discussion is a testament to the season they have had.

Oh, and those fans that got the free bobble heads?

They also go to storm the floor. I’d say that the students that took the university up on their offer got a pretty good deal.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State. Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

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An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”