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Deja vu all over again for men’s hoops

BY SETH ROBERTS | FEBRUARY 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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As Steven Tyler would say, the Iowa men’s basketball team’s 73-70 overtime loss to Michigan on Feb. 19 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena was the same old story and the same old song and dance.

Almost every story line from the entire season was represented in the defeat. The team suffered a long scoring drought, couldn’t hit a 3-point basket when it counted, and allowed an opposing player to explode for 25 or more points.

For the umpteenth time this year, the Hawkeyes had a lead before slumping down the stretch. The team was ahead of the Wolverines by as many as 10 points, but the Maize and Blue stormed back to pull ahead by 7 late in the second half.

The Hawkeyes managed to force overtime, but couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean in the extra period. Iowa missed all five treys it attempted in overtime, and the Hawks are just 13-for-57 from beyond the arc over its past three games (22.8 percent).

Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr., became the sixth opposing player to score more than 25 points against the Hawkeyes and the fourth to finish with 30 or better. At one point in the game, the Wolverine with the famous father had accounted for half of his team’s points.

But perhaps the most familiar aspect was that Iowa finished with fewer points than its opponent. The Hawkeyes (10-17, 3-11 Big Ten) have lost four straight and six of their last eight games, while Michigan (17-11, 7-8) improved its NCAA Tournament chances with its fourth win in five chances.

Iowa also appears to be making a habit of losing close games. The loss to Michigan was the third time in the last four contests that Iowa has lost by 3 points, and senior center Jarryd Cole said losing in that fashion sticks in his craw.

“It hurts,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher to lose these kinds of games than it is to lose games where you get blown out. You look at these games, and you look at things you could have done … you wonder what you could have changed to make the outcome a point or two different.”

For starters, point guard Bryce Cartwright said the team has to keep attacking once it builds a lead. The Hawkeyes played lackluster basketball for much of the second half, and the Wolverines capitalized. Hardaway’s 30 points were complemented by 20 from Darius Morris and 18 from Jordan Morgan.

Morgan was also responsible for Michigan’s biggest play of the game. With Iowa up by two with 14 seconds left, the center grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled, and nailed both free throws to force overtime — even though Iowa coach Fran McCaffery called a time-out between the shots in an attempt to freeze the 54.7 percent shooter.

“We said if he gets a rebound or if he has the ball near the basket, you’ve got to chop him [and] make him earn it — don’t let him lay it in,” McCaffery said. “The kid made both with a time-out in between. Gotta give the kid credit for that.”

With time winding down in the extra period, the game was once again in Cartwright’s hands. The point guard has been McCaffery’s go-to player in clutch situations this year, but he came up short when his twisting, fade-away 3-point heave clanged off the rim.

“Tomorrow’s a new day,” Cartwright said. “If given the opportunity to take the shot again, I’m going to take it — and make it.”


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