Wolverines halt Hawkeye basketball buzz, for now


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Until Wednesday night, Hawkeye fans could cling to the notion that Fran McCaffery’s group hadn’t been outplayed by any opponent yet this season.

There were several chances to put away Iowa State in Ames. The Hawks blew a sizeable lead against Villanova. And McCaffery’s technical-foul debacle fogged an otherwise winnable game against Wisconsin.

But this time around against a scorching Michigan squad, there weren’t any excuses that could defend the Black and Gold’s misstep. Michigan clearly outplayed the Hawkeyes Wednesday night in Ann Arbor, winning 75-67 in front of a loud and amped-up Crisler Center.

“The kids really hung in there and maintained their composure, and that’s what it is all about,” McCaffery said in a release. “When you go on the road, you want them to play with composure. We can look at this constructively and get better from it.”

Iowa failed to reach the 70-point plateau for just the second time this season. The deep 11-man attack that Iowa has disposed opponents with all year was clearly absent, as shown by the one-man attacks in both halves.

Melsahn Basabe more or less carried Iowa in the first half, finishing the opening frame with 15 points and 3 rebounds. In the second half, it was Aaron White’s turn to be the lone producer on offense.

The Strongsville, Ohio, native’s 16 second-half points included a streak in which he scored 14-straight tallies for the Hawkeyes.

But despite White’s efforts and several comeback attempts, Iowa was never able to catch Michigan.
Wolverine guard Nik Stauskas continued his ascent as a candidate for conference Player of the Year, totaling 26 points on 57 percent shooting. It was the third-straight game that Stauskas finished with at least 20 points.

“The game plan was to pound it inside; they play four guards and we tried to take advantage of that,” said Basabe said in a release. “It’s on me; in the second half, I ran out of energy. That contributed to the pace of the game because I was supposed to continue my dominance.”

More than anything, Wednesday’s loss should serve as a reminder to the Hawkeye faithful that, regardless of how good Iowa may be, winning in the Big Ten remains as hard as ever.

Undefeated in conference play, Michigan and Michigan State now hold a two-game advantage on Iowa in the loss column. If the Hawkeyes want to compete for the conference championship, they now must find a way to get wins against both the Spartans and Wolverines when they visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena next week.

“Every game in this conference is a challenge,” Basabe said in a release. “You can’t take them lightly. They play super hard, and every game is a battle. There is no time to feel sad for ourselves; we’ll address what went wrong tonight and make sure it doesn’t happen Saturday.”

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