Dec. 31, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It was a game there for the taking, but in the end fifth-ranked Indiana made the plays down the stretch to hand the University of Iowa men's basketball team a 69-65 loss on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"I was impressed with our fight," said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. "We have got great character on our team. We fought hard, we hung in, but we have to understand the anatomy of the game."
After falling behind 56-48 with 10:04 remaining, the Hawkeyes scored five straight points to trim the deficit to 56-53. Junior Zach McCabe made two free throws before sophomore Josh Oglesby's 3-pointer trimmed the margin to three.
A jumper by McCabe at the 6:13 mark made the score 57-56, but Iowa couldn't get over the hump despite the best efforts from the sold out crowd of 15,400 in attendance. The Hawkeyes committed turnovers in three critical possessions, which added up in the end.
"Ultimately, when you're in a game of this caliber where it is a one or two possession game, it's those kind of things that add up," said McCaffery. "You can survive a bad shooting day, if you rebound well, execute and don't turn it over."
Indiana junior Will Sheehey's jumper opened a 6-0 Hoosier spurt to push the advantage to 63-56 with 3:05 to play. Junior Roy Devyn Marble kept Iowa within striking distance by converting at the free throw stripe. He scored six straight down the stretch, pulling Iowa to within three (65-62) with 46 seconds remaining.
The Iowa defense then forced a turnover with its full court press, but McCabe's 3-point attempt with 30 seconds left from the top of the key was off the mark, which allowed the Hoosiers to escape Iowa City with the narrow four-point victory.
"There are a bunch of little plays when you look on film, you'll be like `ehhh', you'll cringe when you watch them," said sophomore Aaron White, who paced the Hawkeyes with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. "That's what's special about basketball; it's a bunch of little plays that equal into a big collective effort from the group. We didn't make some of the little plays."
Along with White, two other Hawkeyes landed in double digits. Marble scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, making 12-of-13 free throw attempts. The junior was 1-of-14 from the floor in the game. Gesell finished with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Iowa shot 33.3 percent (21-of-63) for the game and made 3-of-17 attempts from 3-point range. Indiana made 26-of-65 attempts (40 percent) and was 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from long range. The Hoosiers won the battle on the boards, 46-39.
Sophomore center Cody Zeller led a group of four Indiana players in double digits, finishing with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. Guard Victor Oladipo also posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"We kept saying, `If we get a win there, it will be a big deal because not many people are coming in here and winning," said IU head coach Tom Crean. "This was truly one of those 15 round heavyweight fight games that the Big Ten is full of. You can't necessarily land the knockout punch, but you want to make sure it doesn't get landed on you."
Indiana jumped out to an 11-6 lead over the first six minutes before Iowa used a 10-0 run to take a 16-11 advantage at the 9:52 mark. Gesell opened the run with a layup before junior Melsahn Basabe's jumper made the score 11-10. White followed with six straight -- on a 3-pointer and three-point play -- to give Iowa the five point advantage.
The Hoosiers regained the lead with an 18-4 spurt that saw Indiana build a nine-point advantage. After scoring the first 12 points on point-blank looks, Sheehey and Christian Watford pushed the margin to 29-20 with consecutive 3-pointers with 3:11 remaining in the half.
Iowa trimmed the deficit to 29-25 with 1:57 to go in the half, but Yogi Ferrell made the final two field goals to send the Hoosiers into the locker room with a 33-25 advantage. The Hawkeyes shot 23.5 percent (8-of-34) over the opening 20 minutes, while the Hoosiers were 14-of-36 (38.9 percent).
"It was an exciting atmosphere to be in as an opponent," said Crean. "I hope the fans continue to pour out like that all year long for them because that team deserves it because they're going to be really good."
The Hawkeyes return to action Jan. 6 at No. 2 Michigan. Game time is set for 11 a.m. (CT).