Another poor performance by Iowa merits another loss. They've lost four of five now and three in a row. The Hawkeyes get in their own way once again in the final minutes to fall to the Buckeyes on the road 68-64.
Turnovers ate them up, the perimeter defense wasn't sharp, the bench scoring wasn't there once again, and they didn't shoot particularly well it was a victory that was still well within reach. What finally did them in? Inability to close it out in the final minutes. Iowa did not score a point between the points of 4:07 left in the game and 41.8 seconds. It's a re-occurring trend for this team that also struggled down the stretch in losses to Penn State, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Carrying confidence into Iowa City when they host the Hoosiers would have been huge for the Hawkeyes. Instead, they head home with even more negative thoughts.
Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell lead the Hawkeyes with 16 points apiece. Peter Jok's foul trouble limited him but he still recorded double figures with 12 points.
Here are the takeaways.
ROTATIONS FOR FOUL TROUBLE
Two fouls in first half and then we didn't see any of Mike Gesell and Peter Jok. Jok picks up a third foul early in the second half and then a long, long break because of that. I understand the usual line of thinking here to protect them from fouling out eventually and keeping them on the floor in final minutes. But like HawkeyeNation's Jon Miller has said, when you keep them on the bench that long, you're taking minutes away as if they fouled out. I think it can be managed less strictly. Score and situations factor in as well, I know. Fran did send Jok back in with four fouls with under five minutes left. I liked that decision moving forward.
NEED UTHOFF TO BE MORE ASSERTIVE
He's been very passive with the ball recently. He's thinking too much with the ball in his hands. Uthoff is taking away from his impact on the game and the rhythm and flow of the offense is impacted negatively when he stops the ball so much to think. They also need him with a scorer's mentality. It started to return in the second half. He was looking for his own shot more. He was attacking. That's what Iowa needs from him on a regular basis. It's ok to be selfish when you have his kind of ability.
Three games in a row now that Iowa has not taken care of the ball. It's so odd because they were among the best in the country throughout the year in limiting turnovers. And the annoying thing for Fran McCaffery right now is that a lot of them are unforced errors. They were fortunate today. Among their 15 turnovers, Ohio State only scored 15 points off of them. It could have been much more. This needs to be fixed.
BOUNCE-BACK GAME FOR GESELL
Boy, this was much needed. The scoring outside of Jok and Uthoff has been few and far in-between. He stepped up today. He was active and not just a floor general and distributor. He attacked the hoop. It's important for him to share the ball and get other guys going but he needs to give opposing defenses more to defend than just steady, mistake-free play with distributing. The Hawkeyes need more weapons on offense so this needs to become common. I'm still not sure what he was trying to do in his final field goal attempt when he was blocked by Keita Bates-Diop. It looked like he was in between dunking the ball and laying it in.
I've been reconciling Iowa fans for the better part of a week. I said it was a rut. I said it was just a losing streak and some positive momentum could still be obtained. It could still be turned around. It was a phase. They've now lost 4 of 5 and winning the conference title outright is no longer doable. It may be time to panic some now. The players will say they won't. They'll say they're not pressing. I think they are at least to some extent. And I think it's fair to show some concern now. The permission is granted. There's only two games left and this season is getting away from them. I thought the game against Wisconsin was a must-win. I thought the game today against Ohio State was a must-win. Every one is from here on out. They're desperate for anything positive whatsoever.