Baskets hard to come by for men’s hoops in loss to Michigan State

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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Clink. Clank. Clunk.

The Iowa men’s basketball team heard those sounds a lot in its 85-66 loss to Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., on Wednesday night.

The Hawkeyes (10-19, 3-14 Big Ten) were 0-for-12 from 3-point territory, snapping a 239-game streak in which the team connected with at least one trey. Overall, the team shot 41.1 percent from the floor, including 35.7 percent in the second half, as the Spartans (17-12, 9-8) pulled away.

Iowa couldn’t find the basket with a GPS, but Michigan State had no such trouble. Coach Tom Izzo’s squad torched the nets on Senior Night, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc. The Spartans have won three of its last four games and extended their home win streak against the Hawkeyes to 16.

Iowa began the game well, and even had a 5-point lead midway through the first half, but head coach Fran McCaffery said he saw a dip in his team’s energy level after the break.

“In the first half, we got a lot of running opportunities off of their misses,” he said in a postgame radio interview. “In the second half, we weren’t quite as energetic. We didn’t get those rebounds that we got in the first half. They got put-backs, they got to the free-throw line, and we didn’t get our run-out opportunities.

“That was our best offense this game.”

Of course, there wasn’t much other offense to compare it with. Four Hawkeye starters finished in double-figures, but they didn’t get any help from the bench, which was outscored 42-12.

Iowa also continued its seasonlong struggle to make free throws, going 20-for-33 from the stripe (60.6 percent). Forward Melsahn Basabe missed four freebies, and Jarryd Cole and Roy Devyn Marble both missed three. Even junior Matt Gatens, who came into the contest shooting 87 percent from the line, whiffed on the front end of a technical pair.

“We lost by 19, but we missed 13 free throws,” Gatens said in a postgame radio interview. “We clean that up, and we’re right there.”

Instead, Gatens added the team’s free-throw shooting to a long list of “dumb mistakes” committed during the game — particularly during the second half, when the Hawkeyes missed 11 freebies.

The shooting guard didn’t hesitate to accept a good portion of the blame, though. The Iowa City native is known for being a sharpshooter but has shot 9-for-35 from 3-point range in the last five games. He misfired on all five of his tries on Wednesday as the team earned the dubious distinction of being the first squad to not make a 3-pointer since 2004.

“It’s really disappointing,” Gatens said. “I’ve been trying to work a lot on [my shooting] recently, since I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Five of those 12 [misses] were mine, and it’s disappointing to look at that.”

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