"It was a hard fought game and I thought both teams played very hard and gave it everything they had," said ISU head coach Wayne Morgan, whose team fell to 4-2 on the season. "My team made too many mistakes. I thought we did a good job defensively, holding them to 36 percent from the floor and 4-for-17 from three. But we didn't make any threes and we made too many mistakes."
The Cyclones might have done a good job defensively overall, but bad starts in each of the two halves proved costly. ISU transfer Adam Haluska got the Hawkeyes started with some huge shots in the opening stanza. He nailed a pair of 3-pointers early and would score 12 points in the first half.
Iowa opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 43-34 lead with 16:29 to play. Again, it was Haluska getting things started for his new team. The Carroll native opened the second half with his third 3-pointer of the game.
"I didn't think we had the intensity at the start of the game on defense," said Jared Homan. "Adam hit some shots and I knew he would. You have to figure he'd be up for this game after transferring. He came out and hit some shots for them."
Iowa went on to take an 11-point lead on Pierre Pierce's dunk with 12:29 to play. ISU looked to be down-and-out nearly five minutes later when Stinson picked up his fifth foul of the game.
"I didn't feel I touched him, but that was the call they made," said Stinson. "I've got to deal with it."
Stinson had to play much of the game in foul trouble, and was disqualified after what he deemed a mystery foul on Iowa's Jeff Horner. The Hawkeyes opened up a 56-46 lead after Horner made the two free throws.
With one of their top three scoring threats out of the game, instead of packing it in for the night, the Cyclones actually scrapped their way back into contention. Stinson's backcourt counterpart Will Blalock hit back-to-back shots to cut the deficit to six points, then added a fast-break layup two minutes later to cut Iowa's lead to 58-54.
The Hawkeyes answered with Pierce's 3-point play to make it a seven-point game. But that's when Homan stepped up, scoring seven consecutive points for the Cyclones, including the free throw that made it a 61-60 game with 2:06 remaining.
Although Iowa would close out the game with a 9-2 run of its own, ISU's comeback was remarkable figuring it was done with Stinson on the bench.
"That's the sign of a great team, without me on the floor," said Stinson, who saw his night end prematurely with 14 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. "I'm proud of my teammates. I'm not a super man, I'm just a player. There are some nights I play well and other nights I don't. They played well with me tonight on the bench, but I'm not surprised."
Ultimately, however, ISU's errors throughout the game proved to be its undoing. On the perimeter alone, Stinson and Blalock combined for 10 of those turnovers. Newcomers Robert Faulkner and Anthony Davis each added two more.
"I think a lot of people were out there just trying as hard as they could," Homan said. "Sometimes you go too fast and try to hard. That's when you make mistakes. Guys try to make plays, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately, it didn't work tonight."
Homan could have been the exception to that rule, however. The senior center scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 38 minutes of action. He hit on 9-of-17 shots from the field, but did much of his damage from the free-throw line down the stretch.
"Homan was magnificent," Morgan said. "He gave everything he had tonight and was terrific. I can't say enough good things about how hard he tried."
Other than Homan, Blalock, and Stinson – when he was in the game – the Cyclones didn't get much from their supporting cast.
Those three accounted for 54 of the team's 63 points. Faulkner and Tasheed Carr, the fourth and fifth starters in Morgan's lineup, accounted for just two points combined on 0-of-3 shooting from the field. The reserves didn't fare much better, shooting a combined 2-of-8 from the floor and scoring seven points.
"We've got some young guys that are in a bit of a slump right now," Homan said. "We need to get a certain amount of guys to contribute on each night."
Seventeenth-ranked Iowa improved to 8-1 on the season, and head coach Steve Alford believes his team found a way to win another style of game.
"As a coach when you play seven, eight, or nine games, you're trying to find a personality or ways that you can play," he said. "It's nice that we've played a lot of variety, like Louisville and Drake who press like crazy for 40 minutes. Now we play a trapping team that likes to zone a lot. We have played a lot of different ways and still have found ways of winning."