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Men’s basketball loses again

BY SETH ROBERTS | JANUARY 17, 2011 7:10 AM

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Midwesterners know how dangerous a drought can be, and the Iowa men’s basketball team relearned that lesson on Sunday.

Iowa (7-10, 0-5 Big Ten) couldn’t buy a field goal for almost nine minutes in the second half, which allowed No. 25 Minnesota (14-4, 3-3) to coast to a 69-59 win in Minneapolis.

Hawkeye freshman Melsahn Basabe converted a three-point play to give Iowa a 40-37 lead with 14:02 left in the game, but the team didn’t score another basket until Basabe’s lay-up at the 8:54 mark. The next field goal didn’t fall until Eric May hit a 3-pointer with three minutes left.

“We found shots, but nothing went in,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a radio interview.

“[Minnesota] revved it up a little …[but] we were shooting jump shots, and when you’re living with the jump shot, sometimes you’re going to have stretches where they’re not going.”

Iowa had to rely on jumpers because the Gophers dominated the Hawkeyes in the paint. Minnesota blocked 12 shots, won the rebounding battle 42-32, and used 15 offensive boards to net 24 points.

Perhaps a bigger discrepancy, though, came at the free-throw line. Minnesota shot 37 freebies, while Iowa only visited the line 11 times. May and Basabe were whistled for four fouls apiece, and center Jarryd Cole fouled out with 4:30 left in the second half.

McCaffery called the apparent home-court advantage “disappointing” but declined further comment.

Instead, the first-year coach highlighted several positives he saw in the game.

Basabe, who continues to be impressive in his freshman campaign, led all scorers with 20 points. He pulled down 13 rebounds despite a considerable size disadvantage with having Minnesota’s post players.

McCaffery also lauded Matt Gatens for holding star Minnesota guard Blake Hoffarber to nine points on 2-for-10 shooting. Hoffarber is one of the better 3-point shooters in the Big Ten, but Gatens forced the senior from Minnetonka, Minn., to go 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“[When] people talk about Matt Gatens, they always talk about his offense,” McCaffery said. “What a job he did [defensively] on Hoffarber. This kid is playing as well as anyone in our league, and we had been having problems with the 3. [Gatens] took that aspect of their game out.”

Most important for the Iowa coaching staff, though, was that the team show more effort after a pair of lackluster losses last week. Even though the Hawkeyes only managed 19 first-half points, assistant coach Andrew Francis said it was evident that the team was in the game.

“Our defensive intensity was a lot better,” Francis said in a halftime radio interview. “Our attention to detail was a lot better, and our overall effort was a lot better.”

Francis wasn’t the only one who noticed. Basabe said the game could prove to be a stepping stone in the development of a young team.

“It seemed like we’ve learned from our past experiences,” he said in a radio interview. “There are no such things as moral victories, but there were things I saw on the court [that I hadn’t before]. I felt it was evident that we’re starting to bond and smarten up in the way we approach the games.”


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