Adam Woodbury

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

No. 20 Iowa loses to Illinois, suffering fifth loss in its last six games

Leave a comment

Having lost four of their last five games of the regular season, No. 20 Iowa looked to establish some positive momentum at the Big Ten tournament this weekend. A team that some believed to be the best in the conference at the end of January has fallen on hard times of late, and that continued Thursday afternoon as they lost to Illinois 68-66 in Indianapolis.

Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes have now lost five of their last six games. And even with their efforts to fight back from double-digit deficits on multiple occasions Thursday, one has to wonder if this team has the confidence needed to turn things around ahead of the NCAA tournament.

Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok, who have led the way offensively all season long, combined to score 50 points for Iowa. But, as has been the case in multiple games during this streak of losses, they didn’t receive much help from the supporting cast. Remove the eight points scored by Nicholas Baer off the bench, and the other Hawkeyes combined to score a total of eight points. It’s incredibly tough to win games when that’s the case, whether it’s against another NCAA tournament-caliber team or one in Illinois that’s playing simply to keep its season alive.

Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell combined to dish out 14 assists, but they also combined to score just three points (all from Gesell) on 1-for-13 shooting from the field. And center Adam Woodbury shot 1-for-7 from the field, scoring two points and grabbing ten rebounds.

During their 2-6 run, with the wins coming over Minnesota and Michigan, the lack of production from the “supporting cast” has been a major issue for Iowa. And given how long this has been the case, does Iowa have what it takes to turn things around? It would be unfair to hold the last two seasons against Iowa because this is a different group, but given past setbacks that’s going to be a question that asked quite often between now and next week.

The NCAA tournament is about match-ups, but a team’s mindset is also an important factor. And in the case of Iowa, they’re mired in a slump at the worst possible time.

No. 9 Iowa beats No. 22 Purdue, moves to 7-0 in Big Ten play

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Leave a comment

Given the shift in momentum in the first meeting between No. 22 Purdue and No. 9 Iowa, Sunday’s rematch in Iowa City set up to be an interesting contest. And while the shift from one half to the next wasn’t as drastic this time around, the Hawkeyes once again took control of the action in the second half. Fran McCaffery’s team won 83-71, moving to 7-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since the 1969-70 season.

A theme in both games between the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers was turnovers, with Purdue once again struggling to take care of the basketball. In West Lafayette, Iowa called upon pressure defense throughout most of the second half to turn a 17-point deficit into a seven-point victory. Sunday afternoon Purdue committed a total of 17 turnovers, with Iowa converting those mistakes into 24 points on the other end.

There were times when Iowa went to their trapping defense and they were successful with it, but for most of the game they played their standard man-to-man. It was another example of the one concern many had about Purdue before the season began: did they have the ball-handlers needed to get the team into advantageous situations on the offensive end of the floor? P.J. Thompson, who scored 16 points off the bench, had just one turnover on the day but Rapheal Davis racked up four and Johnny Hill had as many turnovers as starting center A.J. Hammons (three).

Given Iowa’s offensive options, led by national Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff and much-improved Peter Jok, those turnovers can be turned into points either in transition or in the half-court.

Uthoff scored 22 points against Purdue, which ultimately had to change its lineup to account for his skill set at the four with Vince Edwards shifting to that spot and Caleb Swanigan playing the five. But for as good as Uthoff’s been this season, stopping Iowa requires a lot more than simply keying in on the senior forward. Jok added 13 points as did senior center Adam Woodbury, who also grabbed ten rebounds, and Anthony Clemmons added ten points and six assists.

With their ball and player movement Iowa’s done a good job of finding quality looks on a consistent basis this season, and against one of the nation’s better defenses the Hawkeyes shot 50 percent from the field and 11-for-20 from three.

With Iowa now claiming season sweeps of both the Boilermakers and No. 11 Michigan State, underestimating this group’s chances of winning the Big Ten would be a fool’s errand. And with their league slate being front-loaded for the most part, Iowa can take another step in that direction with a win at No. 7 Maryland Thursday night. Having already experienced significant success on the road, Iowa won’t lack for confidence heading into that game either.

No. 16 Iowa beats Michigan 82-71

Associated Press
Leave a comment

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Jarrod Uthoff scored 23 points and No. 16 Iowa beat Michigan 82-71 on Sunday for its first 5-0 start in the Big Ten in 19 years.

Peter Jok had 14 of his 16 points in the second half for the surging Hawkeyes (14-3, 5-0), who could make a big leap in Monday’s rankings after a tumultuous week for many of the nation’s top teams.

Iowa, which has won seven straight, broke open a tight game with a 16-3 run midway through the second half, and Jok buried a 3-pointer that made it 76-68 with 2:34 left.

Derrick Walton Jr. had 16 points for Michigan (13-5, 3-2). The Wolverines played their fourth straight game without star Caris LeVert, who was out with a left leg injury.

Iowa’s 76-59 blowout win at No. 4 Michigan State on Tuesday further cemented the Hawkeyes status as a legitimate Big Ten contender.

Iowa avoided a letdown against the Wolverines – who were coming off a 70-67 upset of No. 3 Maryland – and joined Indiana atop the league at 5-0.

Perhaps the most encouraging development for the Hawkeyes was that their crucial run came with the likes of Uthoff and point guard Mike Gesell on the bench.

Jok and Anthony Clemmons hit consecutive 3s, and Jok buried another one from the corner to make it 63-52 with 9 minutes left.

Reserves scored 22 points the Hawkeyes, who opened with an 11-0 run and looked set for another easy win.

But even without LeVert, Michigan showed that it’s still explosive by scoring 13 straight points to take a 21-20 lead. The Hawkeyes re-asserted themselves, most notably on a breakaway dunk from slow-footed 7-foot center Adam Woodbury, to go ahead 38-33 at halftime.

The Wolverines scored on six straight possessions early in the second half though, hopping back on top 49-47.

Aubrey Dawkins had 12 points for Michigan, which lost for just the second time in nine games.

TIP-INS

Michigan: The Wolverines’ win over Maryland was their first at home over a top-five team since 1997. … LeVert is Michigan’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game. … Duncan Robinson hit a 30-footer at the first-half buzzer, but it was waved off.

Iowa: By beating Michigan State twice in just over two weeks, the Hawkeyes became the first team since Duke and Kentucky in 1965 to beat the same top-five opponent by at least 10 points in a given season. … Dating to last season, Iowa has won 11 straight regular-season conference games, its longest such streak since 1970..

UP NEXT

Michigan hosts Minnesota on Wednesday.

Iowa plays at Rutgers on Thursday.

Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LukeMeredithAP