Iowa will look for its second straight upset when it faces Texas in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.
Iowa (2-0) beat No. 12 Louisville in the opener 76-71 on Monday. The Hawkeyes found themselves trailing just 37-33 at the half, despite the Cardinals shooting 61 percent from the field in the first half.
“I thought in the second half we performed extremely well,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said. “I thought our defense went to another level and we executed offensively.”
That happened after a challenge from the coach to his players.
“At halftime I told them we were down four points to a team that shot 61 percent. I told them they weren’t going to shoot 61 percent again so we had to step up, concentrate and play defense,” Alford said. “I really challenged Jeff (Horner), Adam (Haluska) and Pierre (Pierce). I wouldn’t trade those three guys for anybody and I thought in the first half they weren’t themselves. They did what we knew they would, they responded to the challenge.”
Jeff Horner scored 11 points in a 4 1/2 -minute span of the second half, part of a nine-minute stretch when Iowa held Louisville without a field goal.
“Give them all the credit, they played a much better second half,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
Texas also struggled in the first half of its 84-62 win over host Chaminade. The 15th-ranked Longhorns (2-0) got into early foul trouble and were forced to scramble with their young eight-man rotation.
“We came in knowing there’s a lot of things we have to work on and we got in foul trouble early and had to work through it,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We had a couple of guys trying to do too much and they just have to learn to let it come to them.”
P.J. Tucker, who picked up three fouls in the first half, finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“Once I drive, people get open,” Tucker said. “I either get a layup or my teammates get an open shot. It’s a win-win situation.”
Kenton Paulino added 14 points, while Kenny Taylor and Jason Klotz each had 12 for Texas, which finished with a 43-28 rebounding edge. The Longhorns were able to pull away in the second half with its three-point shooting. They hit 10-of-23 from behind the arc including four by Paulino.
Iowa, which won this tournament in 1987, has won two of its three meetings with Texas.