Iowa men’s basketball falls to Eastern Illinois at home

The Hawkeyes dropped a historic loss to the Panthers, 92-83, on Wednesday afternoon.


Grace Smith

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery yells during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes in overtime, 78-75.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s basketball team lost in abysmal fashion to the visiting Eastern Illinois Panthers on Wednesday afternoon. The Hawkeyes fell, 92-83, after a second-half surge by the Panthers.

Iowa entered the contest as 30+ point favorites on Fanduel, making it one of the worst upsets by point spread in college basketball history.

“We didn’t shoot well, and they shot it really well,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said postgame. “They made some tough shots, we’ve got to give them credit.”

The Hawkeyes maintained a 45-37 lead entering halftime, but Eastern Illinois turned the tide in the second half. The Panthers converted over 72 percent of their field goal attempts after the break, while the Hawkeyes shot just 11-for-36 from the floor. 

“We certainly got nothing going on offense [in the second half],” McCaffery said. “They were very comfortable running their stuff, and they were making buckets. They shot 21-for-29 [after halftime], that’s unacceptable.”

Iowa’s three-point woes reappeared after a lights-out performance against Southeast Missouri on Dec. 17. In the second half against Eastern Illinois,  the Hawkeyes knocked down just two of their 17 triples.

RELATED: Payton Sandfort, Filip Rebraca career-highs lift Iowa men’s basketball over Southeast Missouri State

Juniors Patrick McCaffery and Ahron Ulis both shot 0-for-7 from behind the arc in the contest, while sophomore Payton Sandfort shot 3-for-10.

Injuries affect Hawkeye rotation

Two significant contributors were missing for the Hawkeyes in Wednesday night’s loss.

Standout forward Kris Murray missed his fourth straight contest with an undisclosed lower-body injury suffered against Duke on Dec. 6. Sixth man Connor McCaffery, who had stepped into the starting lineup for Murray, was unavailable with a wrist sprain.

Fran McCaffery said the loss of Murray and his eldest son was detrimental to the team’s scoring efforts against the Panthers.

“Our team was definitely a bit tired,” McCaffery said. “We don’t have as many subs. I tried to put Dasonte [Bowen], Josh Dix, and Josh Ogundele in for a few minutes, but we just didn’t have enough depth today. We’ve got to get our other two guys back.”

Rebraca shows scoring consistency

Big man Filip Rebraca pitched in 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting with eight boards. Wednesday marked the third game in the past four contests that the Serbian native scored 20 or more points.

“He was phenomenal,” Fran McCaffery said postgame. “I took him out for just a little bit, but he played 37 minutes. They were rotating three big guys on him, and he pretty much played the whole time.”

Rebraca’s performance pushed him over 1,500 collegiate points. Just over ⅕  of those points have been earned in an Iowa uniform, after Rebraca played his first three college seasons at North Dakota.

However, Rebraca said his individual statistics don’t mean much if his team loses.

“I think we took [Eastern Illinois] lightly,” Rebraca said. “I feel like we were a little too arrogant after our win against SEMO, we were feeling good, we went up 18-4, we thought everything was nice and easy, but they have hoopers … We didn’t respect them.”

Up next

Wednesday’s loss drops Iowa to an 8-4 record on the season.

The Hawkeyes will look to bounce back against Nebraska in Lincoln on December 29. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.