Men’s hoops rediscovering the magic touch

Iowa+center+Adam+Woodbury+grabs+a+rebound+against+Augustana+in+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+6%2C+2015.+The+Vikings+defeated+the+Hawkeyes%2C+76-74.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FJoshua+Housing%29

The Daily Iowan

Iowa center Adam Woodbury grabs a rebound against Augustana in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. The Vikings defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-74. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Men’s hoops heads for crucial game against Ohio State.
By Ian Murphy | [email protected]

 

The Iowa men’s basketball team will travel to Ohio State on Feb. 28 trying to break out of a funk it’s suffered recently.

A full Carver-Hawkeye could only watch on Wednesday as Wisconsin flustered Peter Jok, muted Jarrod Uthoff, and let the rest of the Hawkeyes stew in the rut they’ve been in the last four games en route to their third loss in four games.

“We’re not a one-man team. We’ve got to be able to score when he’s on the bench,” Adam Woodbury said about Uthoff.

Wednesday’s prime-time game showcased two teams trending in the opposite direction, and Ohio State, which lost, 81-62, to Michigan State most recently, could figure to be more of the same.

The Buckeyes won four of their last five and are 18-11 overall on the year after being written off early. They’re not in a position to take a regular-season crown, but the Hawkeyes have good reason to be wary.

Iowa ran into Wisconsin at the wrong time, there’s no questioning that. The Badgers, after beating Iowa, 67-59, are now the winners of nine of their last 10 and are playing at a top-25 level.

The Badgers are playing like a team much of the country would not like to run into come the Ides of March.

The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are trending down and doing so in a hurry.

Losses in three of their last four wouldn’t send the mercury in the panic thermometer soaring to the current level early in the season.

Every loss in February is magnified, and a close win over Minnesota doesn’t inspire the same amount of sympathy on Valentines Day as it would the week before Christmas.

There’s also the loss on the road at Penn State in a game the Hawkeyes, frankly, had no business losing.

“We haven’t played well in the last two games,” head coach Fran McCaffery saidWednesday. “Yet we have done some good things in those two games.”

Not playing well extends to the bench, where the Hawkeyes have suddenly lost almost all production, in rebounding, and in shooting.

Iowa, with some exceptions, has shot the ball exceptionally well all season.Wednesday falls into the exception category.

The Badgers held the Hawkeyes to just 18-of-55 on field goals, just 32.7-percent. Shooting 32.7-percent won’t beat a defensive-minded team like the Badgers. It won’t beat the Buckeyes, either.

Iowa turns its attention now to Ohio State, a team the Hawkeyes have had a modicum of success against.

The Hawkeyes are winners of two of their last three over the Buckeyes, including the last two games in Columbus.

Key to beating the Buckeyes will be to reverse what happened against Wisconsin, which Woodbury summed up well.

“We didn’t score enough points and turned the ball over too much,” he said.

The senior tallied a career high 18 rebounds Wednesday while looking visibly exhausted; he figures to be a key player Feb. 28.

Ohio State lost starting forward Jae’sean Tate for the season with a shoulder injury, and none of Ohio State’s centers have been particularly exceptional this season, with just one, Trevor Thompson, averaging more than 5 points per game.

Iowa has its work cut out to win a Big Ten title, but the Hawkeyes still have a mathematical shot.

To win, however, will require rediscovering whatever magic the Hawkeyes had earlier this season, and they seem to know what went wrong against the Badgers.

“We just didn’t get the stops we needed, and they made some key shots in key moments,” Mike Gesell said.

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