Midseason tailspin continues as No. 8 Hawkeyes fall to Indiana

Following a loss to Indiana Sunday, Iowa has now dropped four of its last five contests.


Katina Zentz

Iowa center Luka Garza looks to Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery during the men’s basketball game against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 85-76.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

As Indiana guard Armaan Franklin’s step-back jumper from 15 feet fell through the nylon to give the Hoosiers a 67-65 lead, only two seconds stood between the Hawkeyes and their fourth loss in five games.

With exactly 1.8 seconds left in the game, Iowa had to go the length of the court to score to tie or win. Junior guard Connor McCaffery threw his inbound pass to the other end of the floor, but it did not reach its intended target. Instead, the ball ended up loose on the hardwood as time expired in the game.

With that, Iowa had officially lost four of its last five games. In each of those four losses, the Hawkeyes had a lead at one point or another in the second half.

Now, Iowa’s frustration is beginning to build.

“I think [the players] are frustrated because we were in every one of these games we’ve lost,” head coach Fran McCaffery said postgame. “The game was in the balance, so that’s going to be frustrating. They’re frustrated, and you expect them to be. I think, for the most part, they’ve been positive with themselves and with each other. The last thing I would want those guys to do is to blame themselves. I want them to hold themselves accountable. I’ll hold them accountable. Don’t blame each other. Just stay together and stay positive.”

The Hawkeyes now sit in sixth place in the Big Ten Conference standings with 7-5 league and 13-5 overall records. If the season ended today, the Hawkeyes would not be a top-four seed for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. So, they would not receive the coveted conference tournament double-bye.

Sitting ahead of Iowa are 8-1 Michigan, 9-3 Illinois, 9-4 Ohio State, 8-5 Wisconsin, and 8-5 Purdue.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating to lose, but especially like this,” senior center Luka Garza said. “To lose three games where we have a second-half lead, that’s tough. In a game where we were right there, obviously it’s tough. We got to learn from it. These are lessons that we’re going to use to motivate us and improve on. Obviously, we have eight games left in the Big Ten, so we got to finish it up strong and do our thing.”

“The team’s going to be fine,” Garza said. “We’re going to be motivated. Obviously, right now, it stings. Especially me, I just couldn’t put my team in a position to win the game. I think we did a pretty good job, just not good enough. Personally, I got to do a better job staying on the floor in terms of foul trouble. Then, obviously, toward the end, being able to finish on one of the most important possessions.”

While the Hawkeyes haven’t had much bounce their way over the last four weeks, Garza isn’t getting hung up on past failures. Instead, he is focusing on the things that still lie in front of Iowa this season.

“Obviously you never want to lose four out of five,” Garza said. “When you’re losing four out of five and each one you had a lead, that just sucks. It’s unfortunate, and I think right here is down the stretch. These next eight games, that’s the last stretch. What we do now is going to show the character of this team. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put some wins together and start getting on a roll towards the Big Ten Tournament and March.”