Syracuse Holds Off Hawkeyes

A late rally fell short Friday night as Iowa fell to Syracuse, 66-63, in the third-place contest at the 2K Classic in New York City. The loss dropped the Hawkeyes to 2-2 on the young season.


Two years ago, a soft non-conference schedule played a big role in preventing Iowa from reaching the NCAA Tournament. Coach Fran McCaffery beefed up the slate to make sure that didn't happen again.

Of course, when you do that, it makes it harder to win. That's crystal clear to the Hawkeyes after leaving Madison Square Garden Friday night.

Iowa dropped a 66-63 decision to Syracuse in the 2K Classic third-place game. Texas dumped the Hawkeyes, 71-57, in Thursday's semifinals.

The loss to the No. 10 Longhorns probably won't handicap Iowa's chance at the Big Dance. The Syracuse setback sure might. Time will tell and it's tough to put a nail in the coffin in November.

However, Iowa sits at 2-2 now with North Carolina, Iowa State and Northern Iowa still on the non-conference docket. With 18 contests in the rough and tumble Big Ten, the margin for error tightens up.

Friday, the Hawkeyes turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and eventually fell behind by 15 points with 12 minutes to play in the game. Then, they woke up.

Iowa employed a 3/4-court trap that rattled the Orangmen and led to a 15-2 run. The Hawkeyes possessed the ball trailing 63-62 with :43 left. They worked the ball around until McCaffery called timeout with 8 seconds on the shot clock.

Out of the break, Adam Woodbury tried to slip the ball to a cutting Aaron White but Syracuse's Chris McCullough intercepted the pass. The Orange sank 4 of 6 free throws from there while Iowa's Mike Gesell missed a pair of one-and-one attempts.

Game over.

The 0-for-2 in New York City boiled down to the Hawkeyes being outplayed, nothing flukey. They looked good in spurts but overall displayed way too many flaws.

Turnovers stand out as the biggest issue for Iowa. Through 4 games, it's averaging 16.3 a contest after giving it away 18 times against the Orange.

The poor shooting that hampered this team at the end of last season when it lost seven of its last eight games showed up again at MSG. The Hawkeyes shot a combined 38 of 109 (34.8 percent) from the floor against Texas and Syracuse. They were 10 for 35 (28.5) from behind the three-point arc.

Much of the offensive struggles came from the backcourt where starers Mike Gesell (3-15) and Anthony Clemmons (2-11) combined to shoot 5 of 26 (19.2 percent). Reserve guards Peter Jok (1-4), Josh Oglesby (3-12) and Trey Dickerson (1-6) didn't help matters. Those five backcourt guys, together, were 4 of 23 (17.3) on three-point tries.

Jarrod Uthoff scored a game-high 20 points against Syracuse on 7 of 14 shooting (3 of 6 on 3s) to go with eight rebounds and two blocks. Aaron White added 13 points and 10 rebounds Friday while Adam Woodbury added 12 and five. That trio did committed 11 of the team's 18 turnovers.

Iowa returns to the court Monday when it plays host to Pepperdine (7 p.m., ESPN3).

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