Iowa CITY, Iowa - Iowa has lacked the energy to compete at times this season. Tuesday night, the Hawkeyes lacked the talent.
Clemson proved to be a rude guest in slapping around the home team, 71-55, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Tigers outclassed a rebuilding Iowa team in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Clemson didn't play great, turning the ball over 19 times. The Tigers only needed to be OK because Iowa was awful.
The Hawkeyes now have dropped three of their last four contests, two of which have come at home. Tuesday's game was Iowa's first on national TV. That's been a good thing.
Iowa rolled over its first three opponents. Couple that with signing a top recruiting class earlier this month and things were looking up with Hawkeye Country.
Turned out, those first three opponents were atrocious. They had to be because the Haweyes now have been blown out by teams not likely to make deep NCAA Tournament runs.
There's no questions the Iowa's confidence took a big hit in losing badly to Creighton in Des Moines on Nov. 20. That hangover lingered in an embarrassing 77-61 loss to Campbell at home. The Camels lost by 20 to Creighton two days later.
The players look overwhelmed during the games and in postseason interviews. The coach is not panicking.
"The thing about it is I've been doing this a long time, OK?" Fran McCaffery said. "I stay positive no matter what. I never get too high. I never get too low. You do that and you'll be taking a year or two off to get yourself straightened out.
"I don't stress about it. What I do is go to work, my staff will go to work, my players will go to work. We'll get this thing figured out. We're better than we're playing right now."
The Hawkeyes looked sluggish in a 82-72 loss on Saturday but still Tuesday's game with Clemson was a pick'em in Vegas. The Tigers were 3-2 with losses against The College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina.
A boisterous Hawkeye crowd settled into their seats with their dollar hot dogs. They seemed to share a high energy with their team.
That faded fast as it quickly became apparent that the Tigers gained control of the game. Iowa aided the visitors' cause by quick-shooting and breaking down on defense.
The Hawkeyes were out-rebounded, 42-27, marking the fourth contest in a row they've been beaten on the boards. They never led again after falling behind 10-8 seven minutes into Tuesday's contest.
"I think at some level (rebounding) comes down to effort," McCaffery said. "It comes down to positioning. We're getting pushed under on the weak side more than we should be."
Clemson took Iowa's leading scorer, Matt Gatens, out of the game. He was scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points.
A move into a postseason tournament would be a nice step for the program in Year 2 under McCaffery. Stumbling out to a 4-3 start with two home losses is not the way to make that happen. At some point, the Hawkeyes need to gain some momentum.
McCaffery, his staff and players will get back to work. The question is how much better can they get.