Indiana completed the season sweep of Iowa with a 81-78 victory over the Hawkeyes in Carver-Hawkeye Arena Tuesday night. The win gives the Hoosiers the outright conference title this season.
Iowa's loss is their fifth in the last six games and their fourth in a row. They were 19-4 and 10-1 in the league before the skid began.
Peter Jok got a good look to tie the game and send it in overtime but couldn't connect. It was a game marred by a bunch of fouls. Indiana committed 25 while Iowa had 17.
The positive stat line for Iowa is the bench play. They got zero points from the bench in Bloomington but the reserves combined to score 27 tonight.
Jarrod Uthoff lead the way for the Hawkeyes with 18 points. Anthony Clemmons added 14 and Ahmad Wagner finished with 11. Wagner was just a rebound shy from his first double-double of his career. Adam Woodbury did secure 11 rebounds in his final game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa slips to 20-9 overall and 11-6 in the league. Here are the takeaways from tonight's loss.
IMPROVED BENCH PLAY
Yes, the result was disappointing but there were some bright spots in this one. Sometimes you have to remember the opponent you are playing. The losses to Penn State and Ohio State were certainly disappointing. And I'm not ignoring that the other three contests were winnable but the rise in competition was also evident. The bench scored 27 points against Indiana in CHA last night. That's a positive to take away from this one. One can certainly gather optimism after watching the play of Christian Williams who finished with 8 points and 3 rebounds. He was aggressive attacking the hoop. Ahmad Wagner did what he always does. Nicholas Baer also got going a little bit in the second half. Now, they just need Dom Uhl to find his shot again.
14 POINT DEFICIT
I know Iowa could have won at the end or at least tied it. But I think the first portion of the second half is where the game was lost and Fran McCaffery agreed afterwards. The Hoosiers scored 7 of the first 8 anad pushed their lead to 14 points. That was just a tall task to fight back and it took a lot from the Hawkeyes to do so. The ending of the game looks a lot different and they don't have to chase throughout the game if that run does not take place. Starting out slow in the second half hurt immensely.
FIRST HALF DEFENSE
The rotations were slow. The help defense was late. The penetration into the paint was too easy and then they helped off a guy sitting next to the hoop. It was breakdown after breakdown it seemed. Some of that credit has to go to the Hoosier offense and their ball movement and ball reversals and quickness off the dribble. But that wasn't happening earlier in the season to Iowa. I don't think it necessarily happened to that level even in Bloomington when they played Indiana. The Hawkeyes just looked a step slower on defense than what they needed to be. It did look like the effort and the intensity increased in the second half.
FINISHING AROUND THE RIM
A lot of bunnies were missed. I don't know what you blame this on. You can't ask for more fouls. The stripes called 25 fouls on the Hoosiers. Is it strength? Is it concentration? I don't know but a staggering number were missed last night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Finish a few of those and you're probably also looking at a different result. Williams missed a couple, Uthoff missed a few, as did Clemmons and Jok.
WHERE DO THEY GO FROM HERE
Can they take any solace in the fact that they played better against Indiana? Or does the fact they still lost continue to pile on this team and diminish their confidence and hurt their ability to take steps forward? They weren't taking last night's loss lightly at all but they did show afterwards that they did have the recognition to see that they did play better. It wasn't a lackluster performance like you saw against Minnesota, Ohio State, or Penn State. This team didn't play well last night. They just didn't finish. I think they got a step closer, personally. But nobody really knows where this team is at right now. Finishing games is what they need to improve on the most probably.