Fran McCaffery might not be mad, but he can't be real happy.
The Iowa coach watched his team build an 18-point, first-half lead only to see it turn into a 76-73 loss at Wake Forest on Tuesday night in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons moved to 6-0 all-time in Big Ten/ACC Challenge home games.
"There were a lot of positives from this game," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on the Hawkeye Radio Network. "We just have to make sure our defense doesn't fall by the wayside when the other team is making a run and we can't score a basket."
Freshman J.T. Terrell buried his seventh 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds to play to provide the winning margin for Wake (4-3). He finished with a career-high 32. Eric May's final inbounds pass was intercepted by the Deacons' Travis McKie.
"I would have liked to see us get after (Terrell) more defensively, but he hit some hellacious shots," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on the Hawkeye Radio Network.
May, a sophomore, paced the Hawkeyes (3-4) with 17 points, including three thunderous slam dunks. He also recorded six assists after getting seven thefts the last time out. Freshman Melsahn Basabe was the Hawkeye Radio Network player of the game with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Iowa freshman Devyn Marble scored 11 points with five boards and a pair of assists with only one turnover. Bryce Cartwright finished with 13 points and five assists in 21 minutes. He missed most of the first half with foul trouble.
Wake shot 52.5 percent from the floor for the game, including a blistering 14 of 20 (70 percent) after the intermission. The Deacons were 8 of 17 from beyond the arc, while the Hawkeyes were just 4 of 19.
A lay-up by May pushed Iowa to a 39-21 lead with 1:44 to play in the first half. It completed a 13-0 run by the visitors. Wake responded, however, scoring the final six points of the opening half to take some momentum into the locker room.
Iowa scored the first points of the second half on a May jumper to go ahead 41-27, but the Deacons came back with a 21-2 run. They led 48-43 with 13:13 to play in the game.
"We couldn't make a basket," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on the Hawkeye Radio Network. "It seemed like we were stuck on 41 forever. And then we were breaking down defensively. We weren't getting back.
"This is a team that needs space. In the first half, we took the space away from them. They were turning it over and they were all jammed up. They couldn't make a bucket. The press was good to us.
"The second half, we were content to trade baskets with them. All of a sudden, we couldn't buy one and they couldn't miss."
The Hawkeyes would fall behind by 10 four minutes later and it looked like Wake had seized control. The young Iowa team showed fight, however, taking a 73-72 lead on a pair of Zach McCabe free throws with 2:41 on the clock.
The Deacons tied it when C.J. Harris hit one of two free throw attempts and Iowa got the ball back. The Hawkeyes missed five shots on one possession during which they grabbed four offensive boards.
Wake missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but Iowa's Matt Gatens couldn't convert a contested lay-up with :13 to play. Terrell responded with the final dagger.
"We came out ready, fired up, ready to bury them," Basabe said on the Hawkeye Radio Network postage show. "We had these guys. We had our foot on their throats. They was done.
"But this is an experience that a lot of great teams go through early on and then you're going to get it back later. The point of tonight is not to let this happen again. We have to go out Saturday and get that win against Idaho State."