Closer Not Good Enough for Hawkeyes

Despite a better effort Saturday than in its first meeting with Wisconsin 10 days before, Iowa still couldn't figure out the Badgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes' losing streak reached a season-high three games.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa did a lot of things well Saturday in its match-up with No. 5 Wisconsin. The thing it did poorly proved enough to do it in, however.

The first-place Badgers owned the offensive glass and used that advantage to stave off a game effort from the home team. Wisconsin's 74-63 victory represented its second in 10 days against the Hawkeyes, who dropped their third decision in a row.

The visitors out rebounded Iowa, 35-24, which included a 15-7 bulge on the offensive end. The Badgers enjoyed a 16-7 spread in second-chance points.

The Hawkeyes (13-8 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) performed much better Saturday then they had in a 82-50 blowout in Madison on Jan. 20. It represented no consolation for Iowa, which dropped its second conference home game this season.

"You can't fool yourself into, yeah, we're better, because we lost," Hawkeye Head Coach Fran McCaffery said. "It doesn't change. We lost up there. We lost here. It's still only one loss, but we have to be better than we played today."

Said Iowa captain Aaron White: "We showed good fight but I'm not big on moral victories. If you lose, you lose. If you win, you win."

White played a season-high 38 minutes despite his availability for the game being up in the air for much of the week. He suffered a severe shoulder stinger against Purdue last Saturday and didn't return to practice until Friday. He led the team with 15 points and seven rebounds against Wisconsin.

"I couldn't be prouder of him," McCaffery said.

White said he was not limited by the injury in Saturday's game.

Reserve center Gabe Olaseni, who missed practice time this week with an ankle injury, added 12 points and five rebounds for the Hawkeyes. Starting point guard Mike Gesell, who hyperextended his elbow in practice Monday, couldn't shoot from deep because of it but still managed eight points in 25 minutes in a losing effort.

All-American Center Frank Kaminsky paced the Badgers (19-2, 7-1) with 24 points and nine rebounds. Nigel Hayes (14), Sam Dekker (11) and Josh Gasser (11) also scored in double figures for the winners, who beat Iowa for the fifth time in a row.

The Hawkeyes played one of its better first halves of the season on Saturday. They hit 16 of 25 shots (64.0 percent) from the floor, including three of four from behind the three-point line. They shared the ball well, which was in stark contrast to the first game against Wisconsin when they took quick shots.

The problem this time around was that the Badgers also shot well in the first 20 minutes and led 42-36 at halftime. They were 15 of 28 (53.6) from the field, including 5 of 11 from behind the arc.

Iowa continued to challenge the visitors throughout the second half. It trimmed its deficit to five points once and six on three occasions but the Badgers came up with an answer every time.

“We were able to silence their crowd with some shots,” Kaminksy said.

The Hawkeye fans provided an exceptional environment during Saturday's sellout. The students serenaded ESPN broadcaster Dan Dakich with a "Dakich sucks" chant to start the second half. He grabbed headlines after the first Iowa-Wisconsin meeting for calling Iowa center Adam Woodbury gutless and cowardly.

Dakich felt Woodbury intentionally poked Kaminsky and Hayes in the eye during that contest, a charge the Iowa center denied. McCaffery publicly defended his player.

Woodbury said he had no contact with Dakich this week while he was in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes are idle until a trip to Michigan on Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN). With their losing streak sitting at a season-high three games, they better use the extra preparation to figure things out.

"Our team's confidence is OK. It's still strong," McCaffery said. "You lose three in a row it's not going to be as strong as if we won three in a row. I think it's incumbent upon me and my staff to make sure we remain focused and we keep trying to get better; keep believing in each other."


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