Poor shooting display dooms Iowa in loss to Ohio State


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Hawkeye players and coaches may point to the 45 points allowed in the second half as the reason Iowa couldn’t complete the regular-season sweep of the Buckeyes. But 11 of those 45 Ohio State points came from the free-throw line in the final 1:17.

The reason Iowa lost its second-straight game in front of a home crowd is simple: It couldn’t put the ball in the basket at an effective rate.

“Couldn’t get stops, couldn’t get scores, seemed like nothing was going for us,” junior forward Aaron White said. “Couldn’t make a jump shot, couldn’t make a lay-up, couldn’t make a free throw — it was a tough night.”

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Iowa shot just 3-of-20 (15 percent) from 3-point range, which is the worst rate at which Iowa’s converted from the outside all season. And leaving out a late Mike Gesell 3 after the Hawkeyes’ hopes had evaporated, Iowa was just 2-of-19 from behind the arc.

“We had told our guys, I think they [Iowa] were only averaging 4.5 [3-pointers made] in Big Ten play,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. “They don’t normally take 20; they had to take some late … But hopefully, our defense had something to do with it.”

The shooting wasn’t just poor from the outside — Iowa shot just 45 percent from the field — a number they’ve bested in seven of nine conference games.

White was just 3-of-9 from the field. Senior Zach McCabe shot 1-of-8. And leading scorer Devyn Marble finished with just 10 points (4-of-11).

“I thought there were a couple that were a little deep, maybe a little rushed,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said about Iowa’s shooting. “Some of that comes with the fact that Ohio State is very quick, and they close out hard. Maybe we could have shot-faked and drove a couple. But, I mean, we had good shooters shooting open 3s. I wasn’t upset with anything … We got good looks; we got the ball inside. We had 15 offensive rebounds, so the effort was good there. Execution on our set plays was good; our execution in motion was not.”

Prior to the season, many pointed to a lack of outside shooting as the reason Iowa may not go as far as what’s generally expected at this point. Shooting hasn’t troubled the Black and Gold significantly yet, as shown by its 17-5 record prior to Tuesday and third place standing in conference play.

And some may view it as a positive that Iowa competed with Ohio State despite the putrid display from the 3-point line. But Tuesday’s performance was exemplary of the dangers of postseason play in college basketball.

If the Hakwyes have a tough time converting shots on any given night later in the season, they may find themselves in the off-season sooner than they want.

“We missed some good looks that we usually knock down,” sophomore guard Mike Gesell said. “We’re capable of knocking those down. But when you’re not hitting shots like that, I think you need to attack a little bit more and try to get to the free-throw line.”

“We probably forced a couple of them that we normally would just pass on and maybe take later in the shot clock,” Marble said. “Sometimes, they just don’t fall, and tonight [Tuesday] was one of those nights.”

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