Steve Alford wasn't feeling well before his first game as coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes. You couldn't get the smile off his face after it.
With almost a whole new team from last season, Iowa stunned top-ranked and defending national champion Connecticut, 70-68, tonight in the opening round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Iowa, a team not even given a chance to win its conference, knocked off the team favored to win it all.
"I had a stomach flu yesterday and even before the game I think I got Husky fever," the former Indiana star and Southwest Missouri State coach said. "Right now I'm feeling great. I'm even hungry."
The Hawkeyes looked like the veteran team, opening a 16-4 lead on the way to a 36-21 halftime advantage as the Huskies shot just 26 percent and had twice as many turnovers (14) as field goals.
In the second half, Connecticut looked more like the team that returns three starters from the national champions, and even took the lead once. But the Hawkeyes refused to fold.
Iowa will meet No. 13 Stanford in Friday's championship game. The Cardinal beat No. 10 Duke, 80-79, in overtime earlier tonight.
Jacob Jaacks had 20 points for Iowa, Dean Oliver added 14 and Kyle Galloway had 11.
"What better way to start off a season than to beat the No. 1 team," said Oliver, whose second-half minutes were limited by foul trouble.
Khalid El-Amin, focus of a newspaper story earlier in the day about a possible NCAA violation involving a borrowed car, had 26 points for the Huskies, all but two in the second half.
"I don't think the team was aware of anything and we didn't make them aware," said Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun, who refused to comment on the allegations. "It certainly wasn't a factor in the game."
El-Amin denied the allegations to the newspaper Wednesday and did the same after the game.
"There was no wrongdoing on my part," he said. "I've spoken to the people who need to be spoken to and the situation should be handled."
El-Amin was 1 for 7 from the field in the first half and finished 9 for 24.
"I am not taking anything away from Iowa but if they sat down it wouldn't have made a difference," Calhoun said. "The better team won tonight and if we play like this tomorrow night we could be in for a real hurting. I don't expect us to."
In the night's first matchup, Michael McDonald's two three-pointers keyed a 10-0 run in overtime as Stanford toppled last season's national runner-up.
The Cardinal outscored Duke 8-2 over the final 39 seconds of regulation to force overtime. Chris Carrawell, who led Duke with 28 points, made two free throws 33 seconds into the extra session to give Duke its final lead. Then McDonald, who scored eight points, started the run with the two three-pointers.
"We made some big plays to get it to overtime and a lot of guys stepped up," Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery said. "Madsen has a pulled hamstring and I'm 90 percent sure, barring some kind of miracle, he won't play tomorrow night."
David Moseley's layup and Jason Collins's dunk gave Stanford a 78-70 lead with 2:03 left.
"There were a lot of good things, like the comeback in overtime," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Our defense was better than I thought it would be and it kept us in the ballgame."
CAPTION: Stanford's Casey Jacobsen, left, attempts to deny Duke's Chris Carrawell a path to the basket.