Men’s basketball blown out by Minnesota


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Iowa struggled offensively against Minnesota’s 2-3 zone, gave up a staggering run on defense, and wound up falling, 62-45, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday.

Minnesota (17-8, 6-7) snapped its four-game losing streak, thanks largely to a 24-6 run that at the end of the first half.

One factor that led to such a lopsided sequence was Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe’s two fouls in the game’s first 10 minutes.

The freshman was a marked man for Minnesota for the rest of the game, and he eventually fouled out. His restricted play spelled trouble against a lengthy Gopher frontline.

After the game, players said this void may have not only led to lapses on defense but also on offense, where there was little post presence.

“That was upsetting. It’s too bad that he couldn’t play the first half,” said Iowa sophomore guard Eric May. He didn’t say it fully excused the team’s lack of execution with the ball, though. “We still have to find ways to get inside.”

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The score wasn’t in Minnesota’s favor the whole time — just most of it.

Iowa held a 17-16 lead with under six minutes left in the first half, but that was the last time the Hawkeyes led.

Soon after, Iowa began to struggle from the field, especially from long distance. Against the 2-3 zone, which Minnesota played the entire game, the strategy was to shoot from deep. But Iowa made just 6-of-28 3-point attempts.

Usual sharpshooter Matt Gatens took 11 of those, sinking only 2. The poor shooting seemed contagious, too.

“Our confidence was shot; I don’t know why,” Gatens said. “[Especially because] we had some guys shooting well early.”

With all the problems on offense, Iowa couldn’t afford to play bad defense. But that’s exactly what happened.

Gopher forward Trevor Mbakwe gave Iowa problems in a stellar second half after managing just two points in the first. The junior took advantage of heavy Iowa pressure and subsequent ball movement by his guards to drop 22 points in the second. That total included 10 free throws on just 11 attempts, a great day from the line for a sub-60 percent free-throw shooter.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery gave Mbakwe credit but said his side could have done more to stop the 6-8 stud.

“We were not rotating on a few occasions,” the coach said. “[He] got some dunks off of penetration out of our press. That was disappointing … There’s no excuse for that.”

The only excuse he did make is that every man has his off nights. It just seemed that all the Iowa players happened to have off nights on the same night.

There were the five turnovers from point guard Bryce Cartwright, which McCaffery attributed to the junior trying to create offense.

He also cited the number of 3s as a necessity because of Minnesota’s tough zone.

And most of all, the team didn’t take bad shots. But sometimes, the ball just won’t get in the hoop.

“We usually wouldn’t take 28 3s,” McCaffery said. “With few exceptions, I thought we had open looks.”

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