Traevon Jackson, Aaron White

Late-game execution costs No. 15 Iowa again

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No. 16 Wisconsin paid a visit to No. 15 Iowa on Saturday afternoon and, as you should come to expect from a marquee Big Ten game, it turned into a thriller, with the Badgers leaving Iowa City with a 79-74 win.

In the first half, the Badgers found more holes in Iowa’s man-to-man defense than a TV critic could find in the plot of Dexter’s final season, building a double-digit lead and heading into the half up 40-31. In the second stanza, Iowa switched to a 2-3 zone, stymied the Badgers and eventually took the lead back.

The two sides traded buckets — and leads — over the final minutes, and after Josh Oglesby’s second-straight jumper curling off of a screen, the Hawkeyes had a 72-71 lead with less than a minute left.

That’s when the true colors for both teams shined through.

Bo Ryan called a timeout and drew up a play to try to get Traevon Jackson coming off of a ball-screen from Frank Kaminsky, but Iowa defended it perfectly. With the shot clock running down, Josh Gasser came off of a ball-screen from Kaminsky and made a beautiful, over-the-top pass to get Kaminsky a go-ahead layup after he slipped the screen.

On the ensuing Iowa possession, after a Fran McCaffery timeout, Roy Devyn Marble turned the ball over. After two Wisconsin free throws gave the Badgers a three-point lead, Iowa called another timeout that led to … Zach McCabe taking a challenged three off of a curl with plenty of time left on the clock.

And therein lies the difference between the Badgers and the Hawkeyes.

From a personnel perspective, there really isn’t much of a difference between these two teams. They are both balanced offensively and up-and-down defensively with a pair of all-conference caliber players that are way under-the-radar. Their records are similar enough, with the Badgers sitting at 22-5 and 9-5 in the league while Iowa is 19-7 and 8-5 in the Big Ten.

The difference?

Late-game execution.

The Hawkeyes are 2-7 on the season against teams ranked in the top 20 of the RPI. The two games they’ve won were both by double-figures. The seven games they lost? None of them were by more than eight points.

Rankings that crunch numbers — KenPom, BPI, etc. — love the Hawkeyes. They do so many things well, and they don’t have a single “bad” loss on their resume.

The problem, however, is that they are a handful of possessions away from having one of the best profiles in the country.

Iowa has proven that they can outplay anyone in the country. Literally. That’s not an exaggeration. But their late-game execution has cost them time and again this year, and their seed in the NCAA tournament will show it.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.