IOWA CITY, Iowa — Perhaps, coach Fran McCaffery said, his Iowa team got too comfortable.
The fourth-ranked Hawkeyes came into Thursday night’s game against Indiana on a five-game winning streak and tied for the Big Ten lead.
But the Hoosiers’ defense shut them down in an 81-69 comeback win.
It’s a lesson McCaffery hopes his team learned.
“I think we have to understand a little bit better what this league is and the quality of the teams that are coming in here and that we’re going to face on the road,” McCaffery said. “I thought up until now we did a pretty good job of that.”
It was a season low in points for the Hawkeyes (12-3, 6-2), who entered second in the nation in scoring at 92.2 points per game.
Iowa led by nine in the second half, then went 11 minutes without a field goal as Indiana went on a 23-3 run.
“I thought they were tougher than we were tonight,” McCaffery said. “And that’s disappointing. Our execution wasn’t sharp.”
“The offense was stagnant,” said center Luka Garza, who led the Hawkeyes with 28 points. “We’re better than that.”
Indiana’s defensive effort started during a week of practice after last Thursday’s 81-69 home loss to Purdue.
“We had to challenge some guys,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Guys had to challenge each other.”
“I think our defensive intensity ramped up in practice,” said forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who led the Hoosiers with 23 points despite second-half foul trouble. “I think it transferred over to the game. I think the week off really helped us. It was more of a reset.”
The Hoosiers (9-6, 4-4) trailed 53-44 with 12 minutes to play before they went on their run. The Hawkeyes didn’t have a field goal in that stretch, a drought that lasted until Joe Toussaint’s layup with 59 seconds left.
Iowa was 9 of 34 from the field in the second half, including 1 of 10 on 3-pointers. The Hawkeyes, ranked second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 39.5%, were just 5 of 23 from behind the arc for the game.
Garza, the nation’s leading scorer at 26.9 points per game, had 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. But he faced constant double-teams and with no outside shooting to open the lane, found himself surrounded in the second half.
“I think, like a lot of teams, they were sending a lot of heat toward me,” Garza said. “I didn’t do a good enough job dealing with the double-team in the second half.”
“We didn’t get out of the way around the rim,” Miller said. “We walled up. It wasn’t perfect — he got 28 and 12. Hopefully, he had to work for it.”
The rest of the Hawkeyes were silenced. Joe Wieskamp scored 16 points, but only one in the second half.
“Credit to them, they did a good job in the second half of taking everything away from me,” Wieskamp said.
Jordan Bohannon, who was averaging 17 points in the last five games, went scoreless and missed all nine of his shots.
“They got up in his face and they chased him around and he had a couple in-and-outs early and just never really got comfortable,” McCaffery said.
Rob Phinisee had 18 points for the Hoosiers. Aljami Durham scored 14, and Armaan Franklin added 11.
Iowa guard CJ Fredrick did not play in the second half because of a lower leg injury. Fredrick was questionable for the game because of the injury, but played 13 minutes in the first half. Fredrick, who has started every game this season and came in averaging 9.8 points, missed both his shots and did not score. “CJ’s definitely a huge loss,” Wieskamp said. “He brings such a huge presence to our offense.” . Indiana guard Trey Galloway did not play because of a sore back.
Indiana, which had lost two of its last three games, earned an impressive road win over a top-5 team for its postseason resume.
Iowa had won 22 of its previous 23 home games, and now will play two of its next three on the road.
Indiana: At home against Rutgers on Sunday.
Iowa: Play at Illinois on Jan. 29.