Losing streak meets losing streak

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Losing streak meets losing streak

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery talks with a referee against Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes, 70-66. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery talks with a referee against Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes, 70-66. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Joshua Housing

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery talks with a referee against Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes, 70-66. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Joshua Housing

Joshua Housing

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery talks with a referee against Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes, 70-66. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

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By Adam Hensley

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Iowa (14-13), currently on a three-game losing streak, needs to find its winning ways in order to make a run up the cluttered Big Ten standings.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they will clash with another team in the midst of a late-season slump.

Indiana (15-12) will travel here today for an 8:05 p.m. tipoff in Carver-Hawkeye. Before Iowa’s three-game skid, the Hawkeyes built up a three-game winning stretch. But since Peter Jok’s return on Feb. 5 in a win against Nebraska, Iowa hasn’t looked the same.
An offense that grew accustomed to scoring in the mid-80s scored 66 points in back-to-back losses.

This pivotal conference matchup features two teams that love to shoot the 3-ball, but Iowa can’t solely focus on just that aspect of Indiana’s play.

“Yeah, they are going to shoot a bunch of [3s],” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “But they also get them off of dribble penetration. They also get them off post-feed kickouts. I mean, I think they shoot a lot of 3s, but I don’t think they shoot a lot of bad 3s. I think they are pretty good with their shot selection.”

Iowa failed to shoot better than 38.9-percent from the field in those games as well. Against Illinois, there was little consistency on offense.

McCaffery admitted his team was “quick-shotted” at times, but there were plenty of good looks his team failed to capitalize on, include numerous shots under the rim.

“We didn’t really execute as a team,” Jok said. “I thought we had a couple of good looks at the end that didn’t go in with [Nicholas] Baer and Brady [Ellingson], but that’s the game of basketball.”

Late free-throw miscues and missed heaves from deep doomed Iowa in the final minutes of play; neither the coaching staff nor the players chalked up the poor late-game action to fatigue.

“I don’t think we ran out of gas,” Baer said. “[Illinois] was tired, too. They executed better than we did down the stretch.”

Iowa has been in this situation before.

Earlier this season, Iowa went on a four-game losing streak, capped by a loss at home to Omaha. In mid-January, the team failed in three-straight contests.

However, the Hawkeyes put some of their best basketball together with their backs against the wall.

Following its first losing streak, Iowa smacked Iowa State in the mouth and smothered Northern Iowa at the Big Four Classic. That was probably the best basketball the Hawkeyes have played all year.

Then in late January, after the first three-game losing span, the Hawkeyes played some of their smoothest, most fluid basketball of the season against Ohio State and Rutgers.

Indiana, which earlier this season defeated the likes of Kansas and North Carolina, has gone much the same way as Iowa in the past week or so, losing four-straight games leading into tonight’s matchup.

“They still have personnel that present problems for you, and Tom [Crean] has got them playing,” McCaffery said. “I mean, they lost a couple games in a row, but they are battling and fighting. It was a tough loss for them against Minnesota, taking the lead late, and then they had a shot, essentially at the buzzer.”

Some of Indiana’s problems come from injury — OG Anunoby, who may be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, is out for the rest of the season.

However, the Hoosiers still have the likes of James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant to bother the Hawkeyes.

Indiana looked as if it would be on its way to winning a conference title and making a run in the NCAA Tournament. Recently, all those aspirations have all but disappeared.

Iowa and Indiana’s matchup can be viewed on ESPN. Tickets start at $28 for adults and $15 for youth (18 and under) and University of Iowa students.

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