Poor three-point shooting dooms Iowa men’s basketball for second straight game in loss to Wisconsin

The Hawkeyes shot under 11 percent from beyond the arc in a 64-52 defeat in Madison Wednesday night.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Connor McCaffery talks to Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery during a basketball game Iowa and Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Dec. 8, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 75-56.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team shot 3-for-24 from three-point range on Feb. 19 in an 80-60 loss at Northwestern — a season-low of 12.5 percent from deep.

The Hawkeyes set a new season-low in that category on Wednesday night in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Head coach Fran McCaffery’s team converted three of its 28 looks from downtown during a 64-52 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Hawkeyes have made six of their last 52 3-point attempts — good for 11.5 percent. 

Before its current two-game skid, Iowa had shot 35 percent from beyond the arc this season. 

“I felt it was the same at Northwestern, I didn’t think the shots we took were bad,” McCaffery said after Wednesday’s loss. “I think you always go back and say, ‘Could we have worked the ball a little bit more, maybe got a drive, maybe got a post feed.’ But, you know, you’ve seen us play, we typically let our guys go, we let them shoot the ball.

“I encourage them to shoot open shots, open threes. I thought we moved it. It was a frustrating night from that standpoint. That’s two games in a row where it just wasn’t dropping from three.”

No Iowa player scored over 13 points against Wisconsin, and only big man Filip Rebraca, and guards Tony Perkins and Payton Sandfort reached double-digits in the scoring column — with 13, 13, and 10, respectively. 

Iowa’s leading scorer, forward Kris Murray, who averages 20 points per game, was held to a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting, his worst shooting performance of the season.

“They worked hard guarding him,” McCaffery said of the Wisconsin defense. “They were physical, they were chasing him around, but truthfully, I mean, that’s kind of what he gets every game. But, you know, I thought that they were really paying attention to him and made it hard for him. He hit the one three and then he missed a couple bunnies that he normally makes. I think that weighs on you a little bit.”

McCaffery said he was proud that his team’s defense kept the Hawkeyes in the game for as long as it did despite the shooting struggles. 

“[Poor shooting nights are] part of the game,” McCaffery said. “So what you want to see is continued effort defensively, which I thought we had until the very end when we broke down a couple times. But they run really good stuff. So they, at some point, they’re going to have open guys … But I thought we were pretty locked in you know, we were fighting them. We were right there.”

Iowa fought through a 9-for-29 shooting performance in the first half and only trailed, 28-27, at the break. 

The Hawkeyes trailed, 49-45, with 7:48 remaining in the game, but the Badgers ended the night on a 15-7 run. Iowa made just two field goals during that stretch. 

Iowa shot 32 percent from the field Wednesday, while Wisconsin converted 52 percent of its looks. The Hawkeyes are averaging over 45 percent from the field this season.  

Big Picture

The Hawkeyes’ second straight double-digit defeat drops them to 17-11 overall and 9-8 in conference play. Iowa is now in sixth place in the Big Ten as the conference tournament looms. 

In yesterday’s projected NCAA tournament bracket from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Iowa was a No. 8 seed in the West region, but that seed will most likely drop after Wednesday’s loss.

The Hawkeyes have three regular season games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 8 at the United Center in Chicago. 

Up next

Iowa will return home to face the Michigan State Spartans in a matinee matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 25. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. between Iowa and Michigan State. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 63-61, on Jan. 26 in East Lansing.