Offensive first half dooms Hawkeye basketball in Bloomington

BY TOM CLOS | MARCH 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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Without injured starting freshman point guard Mike Gesell, the odds seemed stacked against the Iowa men’s basketball team even before it took the floor against top-ranked Indiana.

Combine that with the defense the Hoosiers played in the first half, and the Hawkeyes had no chance.

Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller posted a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Iowa was able to muster only 14 first-half points in a 73-60 defeat at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., on March 2.

Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell scored 19 points and added 5 assists, and junior forward Victor Oladipo added 10 points and 8 rebounds for the top-ranked Hoosiers (25-4, 13-3 Big Ten), who bounced back from a loss at Minnesota earlier this week to remain in sole possession of first place in the conference.

Junior guard Devyn Marble led the Hawkeyes (18-11, 7-9) with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists, and sophomore forward Aaron White notched 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Black and Gold, who have now lost two of their last three contests.

Indiana used a suffocating man-to-man defensive scheme to shut down Iowa throughout the opening 20 minutes, holding the Hawkeyes to a 7-of-24 (29 percent) shooting performance from the field and an 0-0f-5 from 3-point range. Iowa also committed 14 of their 19 turnovers in the first period.

“In the locker room after the game, I explained to the guys that we had lost the game with our turnovers,” senior guard Eric May told the Hawkeye Radio Network. “We had 14 of them in the first half, and these guys are too good to give them 14 more possessions at home.”

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, were unable to break the game open and led only 26-14 at the break thanks to an 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) performance from the field. But the home team was able to pull away following the intermission thanks to Zeller and Ferrell, who combined for 27 of Indiana’s 47 second-half points. The Hoosiers also benefited from attempting a season-high 42 free throws, of which they made 29.

“We fouled them a little too much, so we have to make sure we move our feet,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery told the Hawkeye Radio Network. “42 is a lot — that’s a high number.”

May gave the Hawkeyes crucial minutes in place of Gesell off the bench, scoring 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds. The senior’s 10 second-half points helped Iowa stay within striking distance until the end, and he said his team was able to find easier ways to score to keep the game close throughout the final period.

“We got back to the things we do well, and that was running [in the open court],” He told the Hawkeye Radio Network. “We have so many weapons in transition we can make things happen and put them in a tough position by making them foul us.”

Indiana head coach Tom Crean said he was impressed with how his team shut down what he feels is an NCAA Tournament caliber squad in Iowa.

He said the Hawkeyes have proven themselves worthy of a bid into the field of 68 given their accomplishments throughout league play.

“Playing in the best conference in America as the Big Ten has been all year, certain teams should get an exclusion from the bubble, and I think Iowa is one of them,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean told the Hawkeye Radio Network. “Nobody wants to see them in the NCAA Tournament.”

Unfortunately for Iowa, Crean will not decide their fate; the NCAA Tournament committee will.

And the Hawkeyes know they’ll have to do a lot the rest of the way to convince them of their value.

“With this team we have, we really can make something special happen, and we have chances to prove that,” May told the Hawkeye Radio Network. “Between our last two games and the conference tournament, there’s a lot we can do. That’s what makes the Big Ten so great.”

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