Sometimes it comes down to made shots.
That plagued the Iowa basketball team on Monday as the Hawkeyes were just 3-of-17 from long range in a 69-65 loss to No. 5 Indiana.
The Hawkeyes battled throughout, erasing multiple eight-point deficits and played the preseason No. 1 team to the final seconds but ran out of gas late in the loss.
“I was impressed with our fight,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We have got great character on our team. We hung in, but we have to understand the anatomy of the game. We have to understand what the things are that we have to do to win, and the things we can’t do.”
Iowa junior Zach McCabe missed an open 3-pointer with just less than 30 seconds to go and then missed two other triples in the closing seconds as Iowa fell to 11-3 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten action.
The Hawkeyes got the deficit down to one midway through the second half but then turned it over on two of their next three possessions and the other possession ended in an Indiana shot block.
“There is always a fine line with us because we want to run, we want to get to the attack,” McCaffery said. “We want to get the ball and look ahead, so that’s how we school them. Unfortunately, when you’re in a game of this caliber where it’s a one or two possession game, it’s those kind of things that ultimately add up.”
The Hoosiers got strong efforts from Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Will Sheehey and improved to 13-1 on the season.
Zeller finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Oladipo added 14 points and 10 boards. Sheehey scored 13 points off the bench and Christian Watford added 11 points and eight boards in the victory.
Oladipo did everything for Indiana as he led the team in scoring and guarded Iowa’s hottest scorers. He also made the bucket of the game with 1:04 to play as he converted a putback on a Zeller air ball to put the Hoosiers up five.
Aaron White, Roy Devyn Marble and Mike Gesell all finished in double-figures for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes fell short of the upset in a front of a sell-out crowd of 15,400 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
White had 15 points and six boards, while Gesell added 13 points.
Marble was just 1-for-14 from the floor but scored 14 points because he went 12-of-13 from the line. He also had a team-high nine boards.
“They were getting after him pretty good,” McCaffery said. “At least he was able to get to the free throw line a few times and get us going. But we did not do a great job of screening and we were shooting under duress. He was trying to make plays for his team.”
Iowa worked hard to get back in the game early in the second half and did so despite shooting poorly. The Hawkeyes were just 21-of-63 from the floor but attacked the basket in the second half, which helped them get to the line and make 20-of-26 from the stripe.
“You can survive a bad shooting day if you rebound well and execute and don’t turn the ball over,” McCaffery said. “We had some great looks. We just have to shoot it better.”
Indiana though was too much inside as the Hoosiers converted 40 points in the paint. If it wasn’t Zeller working his way through traffic in the lane, it was Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls finding seems with penetration.
Ferrell scored nine points and had four assists in the game. Hulls, a sharpshooter who entered the game as a 55 percent 3-point shooter on the season, did not score but had a team-high six assists.
The Hawkeyes trailed by eight at the break as a combination of poor shooting and spotty defense led to the deficit. Iowa made just 8-of-34 in the first 20 minutes and let Indiana’s guard penetrate into the lane way too much.
“That is nothing different than they do anywhere else,” McCaffery said of Indiana playing tough in the post. “The X was on the O. They were pressuring us at every position, taking away our space and they are big and strong.”
Iowa led by as many as five in the first half, while Indiana’s biggest lead was 10 with four minutes gone in the second stanza.
It won’t get any easier for the Hawkeyes, who next play at No. 2 Michigan before hosting nationally ranked Michigan State.