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Men's basketball stuck on repeat in loss to Minnesota

BY TORK MASON | FEBRUARY 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Gesell didn’t know what else to do when Minnesota’s Austin Hollins stripped the ball away from him as he went up for a shot to take a late lead. He immediately dove for the loose ball on the baseline near the Iowa bench as time was winding down.

“My first instinct was, ‘Dive on it and scream time-out,’ ” Gesell said.

But Gesell didn’t get a time-out. The ball was whistled out of bounds off of the freshman with just 4.7 seconds remaining and Minnesota holding on to a 60-59 lead. The Gophers’ Andre Hollins hit a pair of free throws after being fouled on the ensuing possession to seal a 62-59 Minnesota victory on Sunday.

The flow of the game followed a similar script to those of the Hawkeyes’ recent contests: Iowa dug itself a deep early hole — Minnesota jumped out to a 14-2 lead at the start of the game — then made a dramatic comeback to make things interesting, only to come up short in crunch time.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery appeared frustrated in his postgame press conference as he repeated what has become a familiar line over the last month.

“We obviously blew an opportunity today, “ he said. “We had opportunities at the free-throw line; we had opportunities on the break. We didn’t execute again. We kept fighting — that’s the good thing.

“But when you miss free throws and don’t execute, it’s hard.”

Iowa’s offense took too long to get going, and McCaffery said he was disappointed with the energy level from his starters at the opening tip. The early 12-point deficit was an issue that also didn’t escape Eric May’s notice.

“We can’t spot teams that many points,” May said. “You can’t play the whole game digging yourselves out of a hole, and that’s what we did. We’ve got to be ready to play [right away], and that’s kind of been an issue on road games.”

The offense also came to a grinding halt in the final two minutes. May completed a 3-point play with 2:10 remaining to give the Hawkeyes a 59-55 lead, and the Black and Gold never scored again.

Junior Devyn Marble — who went scoreless with only two shot attempts in 17 minutes of action and looked out of sorts all game — knew what the team needs to do, but didn’t have any answers for how to make it a reality.

“It’s really tough,” Marble said. “This is another one we should have won. We’ve just got to make the plays down the stretch, and we’re not doing that. We’ve got to find a way to make it happen. We’ve got to figure out how to make plays in crunch time.”

May said with late-game drama comes a different mindset, one in which the natural tendency is to feel rushed and get ultra-cautious. And the senior said the team needs to get over it, and soon.

“We’ve got to take the next step,” May said. “We can’t take that next year — we’ve got to take it right now, we’ve got to take it in these next two days [before Wisconsin].”


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