The resiliency that the young bunch showed on the road last night was amazing. Peter Jok had just two points in the first half and the Hawkeyes were staring a double digit deficit right in the face at the break. They could've rolled over and let Minnesota hand them a 15 point loss, but they didn't. Instead, Jok got hot, they started taking care of the ball a little more, and the defense picked up. Especially the pressure that they were throwing at the Gophers. It says a lot about a young team's character when they have the guts to climb out of a double digit hole, on the road, in a tough environment and nearly win the game. Lets be honest for a second, Iowa probably should've won the game. Minnesota just got the breaks to go their way and, unfortunately for Iowa, that's what happens when you're at home. You tend to get the benefit on some close calls.
The experience that all the young guys got tonight is going to be so valuable the rest of this season, next year, and beyond. Williams Arena is a tough place to go and win a basketball game and for Iowa to nearly do that, it's going to help a ton in the future. They were able to not only nearly win the game, but come back from a double digit deficit at the break. They just did little things right in the second half. They tuned up the defensive pressure, which led the run-outs. They were finding Peter Jok, who was in a rhythm in the second half. They did a lot right, which led to the big comeback. They had young guys step up and hit key shots in both regulation and overtime. A big Jordan Bohannon three in OT comes to mind right off the top of my head. It didn't turn out the way they'd liked it to, but this is a game Iowa wins next year, that is for certain.
I did think they had some key turnovers in some crucial spots. There were a couple in that second overtime that they could just not overcome. Maybe they were drained out from thinking they had won the game in regulation? I don't know what it was, but two turnovers led to some Gopher points and that pretty much sealed it up for them. The Hawkeyes had 18 turnovers on the night, which isn't too terrible when you consider they played 50 minutes of basketball, but the Gophers did have 22 total points off of those turnovers. There were two key turnovers in the second overtime that Minnesota got 4 total points off of and that ultimately was the nail in the coffin for this young Iowa team.
Big Step Forward
They went from being absolutely blown out in road games, to winning one against Rutgers, and then to battling against a really good Minnesota team at their place. It looked like from the beginning that Iowa was on their way to being blown out again. They were leaving shooters wide open and didn't seem to have any real flow within the offense. Instead of letting the Gopher runs build and build, they cut them off when they got started. There were a few exceptions, but the run to start the game was key for Iowa in terms of confidence because it let them believe they could compete and win inside The Barn. This is going to help a lot with road games against Michigan State, Maryland, and Wisconsin left on the schedule.
Tough Loss Leads to Opportunity
There is no doubt that this loss is going to sting a bit for them, because they all believe they should've won the game. But it's over and it can't be something you dwell on heading into another road matchup with a good team on Saturday in Michigan State. You went and competed on the road, so now you have to build off of it. Michigan State and Minnesota are two fairly even teams in terms of talent, in my opinion, so the Hawkeyes shouldn't have any trouble hanging with them either. It's another great opportunity for them to garner an elusive road win and build a possible tournament resume.