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.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.