Men's hoops sluggish in second half against Iowa State


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Iowa jumped out to an early lead, but played from behind for most of the second half on Dec. 10, eventually falling to Iowa State, 75-72.

In what many players dubbed the best atmosphere they've ever played in at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a raucous crowd of 13,276 witnessed the Cyclones' (8-2) first victory in Iowa City since 2002.

"It was a lot of fun to be out there tonight, although my pacemaker was working on overtime," Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg joked after the game, referring to the life-saving device that ended his NBA career.

In a heated contest that saw plenty of controversial calls and even a technical foul on Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, the experience and calm of the Iowa State squad conquered the youthful Hawkeyes (5-5).

Junior guard Scott Christopherson dropped 30 points for the Cyclones — 24 in the second half — to lead all scorers.

Iowa's statsheet was again a mix of many players in double figures, including a surprising 12 points from oft-maligned center Andrew Brommer. Freshman Melsahn Basabe also had arguably his best game ever, with 12 points, 14 rebounds, and seven blocks. The swats especially were key for Iowa's quick start — all seven came in the first half.

Yet after a toughly fought game, the Hawkeye players were somber, knowing they had missed an opportunity.

This because, amid the atmosphere and the positives, the loss highlighted two major issues the team has suffered from all season — a pair of faults that make it tough to win when the team lets both occur on the same night.

The first is giving up second-half runs. Much like a similar loss this year against Wake Forest, in which the Hawkeyes gave up a 19-4 run at the beginning of the second half to let the Demon Deacons back into the game, the Cyclones were able to erase a nine-point halftime deficit almost instantly with an 8-0 run to begin the second period.

"It was a little bit of inexperience, a little bit of nerves, I think, and the situation," McCaffery said of the team's penchant for allowing an early run in the second half. "We were trying to get it all back at once, which is what you try to guard against."

While Iowa had 18 turnovers in the game, players said there were also some unquantifiable factors that led to Iowa State's fast-break chances and Cristopherson's big night.

"For a team such as [Iowa State], which runs off of makes and misses like we do, a bad shot is just as bad as a turnover," senior forward Jarryd Cole said.

The other major hole in the Hawkeyes' game right now is free-throw shooting. Especially frustrating for most coaches because they seem so simple, Iowa just has not fared well from the charity stripe.

In the last three games, the Hawkeyes have made a combined 36 out of 68 attempts from the free throw line — just 53 percent.

"Well, the ironic thing is they make them in practice," McCaffery said. "We chart every free throw from the opening day of practice. We shoot a ton."

Of course, shooting a free throw in an empty gym and shooting a free throw in front of 13,000 plus is a much different task. But listening to the team's only senior, there's no excuse for missing a shot so often practiced.

"I blame it on concentration if anything," Cole said. "We're young, but I'm not one for mistakes. We just missed them."

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