Tom Izzo has been coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for more than 30 years and Tuesday night got him feeling a bit nostalgic.
The atmosphere, the noise, the enthusiasm, the fervor. The Michigan State head coach said it reminded him of the days when the Hawkeyes were winning bunches of games and whipping home crowds into a frenzy under Dr. Tom Davis from 1986-99.
"The place was rocking and the gold and black was impressive," Izzo said, referring to the fact that Iowa fans in alternating sections wore either black or gold to create a striped effect in the audience . "I’ve got to tell you, it reminded me of the old days.
“The place was back to the Tom Davis days,’’ Izzo added. “I thought the place was hopping. They’ve got it going here.’’
He’s right. No. 15 Iowa ended up losing to No. 7 Michigan State 71-69 in overtime, but the big positive to come out of the game from a Hawkeye perspective was the crowd support. It was the most electric atmosphere of the season at Carver-Hawkeye, perhaps the most exciting in more than a decade.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery couldn’t help but notice it, too.
“I just can't say enough about our fans …’’ he said following the game. “I mean, this atmosphere tonight, the way they backed our team was something that really makes me proud. Proud to be their coach.’’
It was Iowa’s sixth sellout of the season and all the remaining games are sold out. With a few of the recent sellouts, not every seat was filled because the students were away on winter break. That also made for a less raucous environment.
But upcoming games — especially matchups next week with Ohio State and Michigan — figure to be similar to Tuesday night.
“I’m happy for our players who have really sacrificed,’’ McCaffery said. “They came here when it wasn't as fashionable, and believed in what we were selling and have created an atmosphere where folks want to come and watch and root and be as noisy as they were tonight, and try to be as intimidating to the opposition as possible.
“I can't thank (the fans) enough. I know from the bottom of my heart, I'm thankful and so are the players.’’