The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball falls in embarrassing fashion to Iowa State, 90-65, Thursday night in Ames

The Hawkeyes committed 19 turnovers during the contest and never got within 18 points of the Cyclones in the second half.
Cody Blissett
Iowa Sate guard Tamin Lipsey dribbles the ball after making a steal during a basketball game between Iowa and Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.

AMES, IA — Iowa men’s basketball suffered its worst loss of the season Thursday night on the road at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. Falling to the Cyclones, 90-65, the Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome a 12-turnover first half, finishing the contest with 19 giveaways and shooting a measly 38.6 percent from the floor. With the win, Iowa State earned its 600th victory at Hilton. 

The game featured the widest margin of victory for either side in the more than 100 years of the Cy-Hawk game.

Amidst a raucous hostile crowd, the Hawkeyes struggled to find their rhythm early, committing four fouls, two of which resulted in and-ones, and two turnovers as the Cyclones jumped to a 12-6 lead in the opening four minutes. 

“We kind of fell in love with the three ball at that point because we got a little behind,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in his postgame press conference. “We have to do a better job collectively to limit that kind of discrepancy [in fouls].”

In his first start of the season, Iowa second-year guard Josh Dix looked shaky, coughing up the ball before crossing halfcourt and then losing possession near the three-point line a little later before being subbed out in favor of fellow sophomore Dasonte Bowen.

Iowa State’s lead grew to ten after ten minutes of play, as Iowa turned the ball over three more times after Dix’s substitution and couldn’t get a basket to fall. Outside of junior forward Payton Sandfort’s three makes from behind the arc, the Hawkeyes shot just 2-of-10 from the field to open the game. 

“Honestly, I think it starts with we’re getting down so bad in the games, it’s hard to shoot when you’re down and everybody is screaming at you,” Sandfort said. “We got to come out with more fight and make it more of a back-and-forth game.”

McCaffery likened the Hawkeyes’ offensive effort to Monday night’s game at Purdue, another double-digit loss. The head coach explained how his squad needed to move better with the basketball with regard to cuts, drives, and screens.

“We kind of moved [the ball] side to side until somebody shot at the clock,” he said. “We have to have way more activity to challenge the defense in a better way.”

Until Iowa grad transfer forward Ben Krikke hit a jumper near the baseline, the Hawkeyes had gone scoreless for almost three minutes. Even after that basket, Iowa couldn’t get anything going, as first-year forward Pryce Sandfort stepped out of bounds on the following possession. He then committed another turnover, leading to a three from Iowa State’s Keshon Gilbert. 

Gilbert would later miss a jumper, but got his own rebound and fired a pass to teammate Tamin Lipsey for a three. On the next trip down the floor, the Cyclones nailed another triple, this time from first-year Milan Momcilovic, to take a 42-26 lead with two minutes to go in the half. 

After Payton Sandfort made two of his three attempts from the charity stripe, Iowa found itself down, 47-29, at the break. Payton Sandfort led both teams in scoring with 14, but Cyclone Tre King followed close behind with 13 of his own. 

Iowa scored two points in the paint to its opponents’ 30, and its 12 turnovers led to 15 Iowa State points. Perhaps the most jarring stat of the first half was that the Hawkeyes had three more turnovers than made field goals. The Cyclones, meanwhile, finished with 18 made field goals and four turnovers. 

First-year big Owen Freeman was the only difference in Iowa’s lineup to open the second half and contributed to baskets in the opening minutes, but his presence didn’t make much of a dent in the scoring differential, as Iowa State extended its lead to 27 after Gilbert’s second three of the contest. His triple resulted from a bad pass turnover from Freeman on the inbounds pass. 

The rest of the half was more of the same: missed shots, inopportune fouls, and costly turnovers. 

Iowa registered its ninth foul of the half when first-year guard Brock Harding was called for a swipe on Iowa State’s Robert Jones, who converted both ends of his one-and-ones. Then on the ensuing inbounds play, a wide-open Jones slammed home a ferocious dunk, eliciting chants of “Bobby” from the Iowa State faithful. 

“We missed some [defensive] rotations, that was a big part of it,” Payton Sandfort said of the Cyclones’ offensive firepower. “We need to have more pride on the ball and ultimately that starts with me as a leader. So we’re just going to continue to keep working. It looks bad, but we’re right there.”

Over their past three games, the Hawkeyes have given up an average of 85 points to their opponents.

Gilbert added to his highlight film with a shot fake on along the left wing, getting his defender to jump and then driving to the left block, where he dished a nifty, behind-the-back pass to King for a layup. 

In terms of scoring defense, Iowa State ranked second in its conference heading into Thursday. Bowen explained that competing against a stout defense like the Cyclones requires not just better offense, but also a tough defense to match. To the guard, these two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

“When we play the tougher teams, we might not hit shots at as much a high clip as we usually do,” he said. “So we’ve got to buy in a little more on the defensive end so we get in the flow on transition where we thrive. Now we’re getting layups and the threes start to come: that’s where we’re at our best.”

The Hawkeyes never got within 18 points the entire second half, falling to the Cyclones in their worst margin of defeat so far this season. If there’s any solace to Iowa fans, it is that the last time the Hawkeyes lost by 20 points in Ames, plenty of success followed. Falling, 73-53, at Hilton on Dec. 9, 2021, Iowa went on to finish the season with a 26-10 overall record and earn the Big Ten tournament title in Indianapolis. 

“Coach [McCaffery] always says, ’50 percent of people don’t care about how you feel right now and the other 50 percent are happy the way you feel right now,'” Bowen said. “So the only people we can really rely on are our locker room and our family. So that’s what we’re buying into right now and we’re going to try to turn it around.”

Up next 

Iowa returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 10, to take on the Michigan Wolverines. The 5-4 Hawkeyes will take on the 4-5 Wolverines, who have lost three straight contests.

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.