The illustrious end of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun came at the hands of Iowa State.
In the Cyclones’ first-ever game against the Huskies, Iowa State won a first-round NCAA Tournament game against UConn in Louisville, 77-64.
No one knew at the time, but that was the last of his 871 games as the Huskies’ coach. His 25-year record there was 627-244. His career mark is 875-381. And oh yeah, three NCAA titles. Pretty, pretty good.
Iowa was 2-1 against Calhoun’s Huskies, but didn’t win the one of the three games that mattered most.
The first meeting was on the night after Thanksgiving in 1995, in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout. I was in Anchorage for the tourney, and what a game this was.
“You saw what college basketball is all about,” Iowa Coach Tom Davis said, “two teams giving all they had and laying it out there.”
The Hawkeyes won in overtime, 101-95. Chris Kingsbury was at his Kingsburyian best, scoring 27 of his 30 points after halftime.
Ray Allen, who is still getting it done in the NBA, was UConn’s leader that season. But he wasn’t the King(sbury) for a night. Allen had 22 points. He had to miss a lot of the first half because he picked up two fouls in the game’s first two minutes. That was good for Iowa, to say the least.
The Huskies trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half, then charged back. Kenyon Murray scored with :03 left after rebounding an Andre Woolridge miss, sending the game into OT.
Kingsbury and Jess Settles sank 3-pointers in the overtime for Iowa, which lost to Duke the next night in the tourney’s title game, 88-81.
The second meeting between the two teams was in the virtual opposite of Anchorage. UConn beat Iowa 78-68 in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional, in Phoenix.
The Hawkeyes did very well to get that far. For UConn, it was the third win on the way to six as they won the first of their three national-titles.
The game was tied at 51 at the second television timeout of the second half, and was a dogfight from start to finish, but the Huskies were simply the better team.
“We tested them. I thought we had them with about seven minutes left, said Settles, then a senior.
That was the last game Davis coached for Iowa. The 3-game run the Hawkeyes had in the NCAAs, including a second-round upset win over Arkansas, wasn’t the worst way to go out.
The very next game Iowa played was eight months later, against … Connecticut.
It was Steve Alford’s first game as the Hawkeyes’ coach, and it was in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
UConn opened the year ranked No. 1 in the nation. Iowa was unranked, and would go on to a 14-16 season.
But the Hawkeyes opened the Alford Era with a bang, nipping the Huskies, 70-68.
Iowa built a 36-21 lead, with Dean Oliver scoring 14 points. But Oliver collected three fouls in the first four minutes of the second half, and sat out for almost the next 10 minutes. UConn led 55-53 when Oliver returned.
Kyle Galloway and Ryan Luehrsmann hit 3-pointers down the stretch, and so did Oliver. Jacob Jaacks had 20 points for the Hawkeyes.
“What better way can you start the season?” Oliver asked.
The win was Iowa’s first against a top-ranked team since the Hawkeyes upset defending national champion UCLA, 87-82, in 1965.
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