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Rough streak continues as Hawks fall to Purdue

BY SCOTT MILLER | FEBRUARY 16, 2009 7:50 AM

The rebound soared just inches above Jake Kelly’s finger tips, out of his grasp. Instead, Purdue’s Keaton Grant snagged the board, and with it, a 49-45 victory over to Iowa, sending the Hawkeyes home on Valentine’s Day with another heart-breaking defeat.

It’s a familiar tune for head coach Todd Lickliter’s squad, which has now lost five games by four points or fewer this season. All and all, the Hawkeyes sit at 13-13 (3-10), having been defeated 11 of their last 15 times on the hardwood.

During this stretch, Iowa has had its former leading scorer (freshman Anthony Tucker) be declared academically ineligible for the second semester, its leading rebounder (senior Cyrus Tate) miss nine games with an injured ankle, and its starting point guard (sophomore Jeff Peterson) hurt his hamstring.

“Obviously, losing Jeff and Cyrus is a big [blow] to our team,” said sophomore Jarryd Cole, who had 13 points and five rebounds against the 20th-ranked Boilermakers. “I think that we as a team played real well [on Feb. 14]. … We’re going to struggle a little bit, but we’re going to try to plug away as hard as we can.”

With Tate and Peterson’s prognosis still unknown, the question now for the Hawkeyes is: Where do they go from here?

Five games remain on the schedule, plus the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Two of these contests are on the road, where the young Hawkeyes are winless in conference play.

“We know if we keep playing like we did [against Purdue] — get a little tougher, get a little more consistency — we’ll be rewarded,” said junior Jermain Davis, who replaced Peterson in the line-up against the Boilermakers.

Perhaps even more troubling than Iowa’s road deficiencies is the absence of Peterson, who Lickliter relies almost entirely on to run his team’s offensive sets. Without him in the game, Kelly, who had 19 points against the Boilermakers on Feb. 14, said the Hawkeyes ran only “a few” plays.

“It’s a little less organized than what we’re used to playing,” he said.

In Tate’s absence, Lickliter’s squad has morphed into a poor-shooting team, connecting on slightly more than 40 percent its shots without the 6-9 senior filling up the lane.

The trend continued against Purdue — the Hawkeyes shot just 36 percent. In fact, Iowa came up empty on three potential lead-changing possessions late in the game, before Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson sealed the contest with a 19-foot jumper at the 1:20 mark.

“I thought that we passed up a couple of looks,” Lickliter said. “I don’t know, probably wanting to win so bad, but we passed up a couple of looks. They wouldn’t have been great looks because they were switching out and we just didn’t find the right one.”

While the loss against Purdue was disheartening and there is seemingly little to play for at this point, Cole contends the Hawkeyes are still looking at these last five regular season games as a way to better their overall standing in the conference.

“We just want to finish,” Cole said. “We want to finish in games. … We just want to finish on a high note. And that’s what we’re concentrating on.”


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