INDIANAPOLIS - Cyrus Tate slouched in front of his locker searching for words to describe his disappointment. Three years ago he brought his all-American junior college credentials to Iowa City in hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
That childhood dream died here at Conseco Fieldhouse on Thursday.
"I tried to do what I could to get us over the hump," Iowa's senior captain said. "It's sad that I've been here for three years and that hasn't happened. It's tough personally.
"It's not anybody's fault. This season would have been a special season, but we had injuries. It's not about being close. It's about winning."
For the second year in a row, Michigan bounced the Hawkeyes from the tournament in the opening round. Thursday's 73-45 Wolverine win followed a 55-47 victory a year ago.
Hawkeye Coach Todd Lickliter was asked by a reporter how he felt.
"Sick," he said.
Iowa could not find an answer for Michigan's DeShawn Sims. The sophomore hit his first 10 field goal attempts and finished with 27 points. His classmate Manny Harris chipped in with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. That duo matched Iowa's offensive output.
"It was obviously evident that we didn't come out with the energy that they had," Iowa's Jarryd Cole said. "By the time we realized it, we couldn't match it. (Sims) just had a phenomenal shooting day. When you contest shots and they go in, there's nothing much you can do about it."
Cyrus Tate led the Hawkeyes with 12 points. Leading scorer Jake Kelly, who had averaged 20.4 points in his last seven games, was held to 10 on 3 of 11 shooting from the floor. Iowa's second leading scorer, Matt Gatens, converted just 1 of 10 field goal tries and finished with two points.
"I thought Manny did a great job on Gatens and then C.J. (Lee) on Kelly," Michigan Coach Beilein said. "C.J. has done a great job defensively for this team, but Manny's job on Gatens was pretty good. Gatens can play."
Iowa fell to 15-17 after posting a 13-19 mark in Lickliter's first season. The Hawkeyes left here with the possibility of playing in two different postseason tournament - The College Basketball Invitational and the CollegeInsider.com.
"I think the criteria is a winning record for most of those," Lickliter said. "That would probably eliminate us. We're set to go on our trip overseas in the end of May. And so, that will be our focus now."
Iowa lost its third consecutive game at this event. Its last win came when they captured the championship here in 2006. Its also 0-4 against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
Thursday's game represented the rubber match between the two schools. Each team won at home, the most recent a 70-60 overtime Hawkeye triumph in Iowa City on Feb. 22. Iowa lost nine Big Ten games each by eight or fewer points, but put up little fight on Thursday.
Iowa turned it over 17 times with just eight assists.
"We're usually very team oriented," Iowa's Jarryd Cole said. "Today we were exposed individually. That's not us. We didn't play the way we should play and we deserve what we got."
All of the Hawkeyes are eligible to return next season with the exception of Cyrus Tate and J.R. Angle. Iowa will add incoming freshmen Brennan Cougill and Eric May as well as Anthony Tucker, who sat out this semester with academic issues.
Some pundits felt Michigan needed Thursday's win to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines started the game like that was the case.
After Michigan a 12-point lead midway through the first half, Iowa worked its deficit down to eight on a Jarryd Cole lay-in with 5 minutes, 54 seconds to play in the half. From there, things disintegrated for the Hawkeyes.
The Wolverines finished the half on a 15-2 run to take a 40-19 lead into the locker room. During that stretch, Iowa missed all six of its field goals and turned it over three times. Iowa inside of 16 points of the lead the rest of the way.
Sims notched 18 first-half points ( 8 of 8 from the floor) compared to the Hawkeyes' 19. Iowa scored 16 points in the first half during a 64-49 loss at Michigan on Jan. 11.
"This sucks," Iowa's Jermain Davis said. "Going out like this sucks. This one just got away from us. We felt like we could beat this team."
Said Iowa's Devan Bawinke: "It hurts to lose by that many points, to end your season on a game where you get blown out. We've been in every game pretty much all year long. It hurts, but at the same time, we had a good year. We dealt with some adversity and we overcame a lot of it.