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 downed by Michigan, 90-80, as late comeback attempt falls short

The Hawkeyes lost their third game in a row, hitting five of 20 triples and shooting 44 percent from the floor, to fall to 5-5 on the season.
Isabella Tisdale/The Daily Iowan
Ben Krikke goes to shoot a basket during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 10, 2023.

The Iowa men’s basketball team lost its third game in a row, most recently falling to Michigan, 90-80, Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes finished a scrappy first half down just two points but unraveled in the final 20 minutes as head coach Fran McCaffery was ejected. Hitting just one three-pointer heading into the final 10 minutes, Iowa regained its form from beyond the arc, but its late comeback attempt proved futile. 

“I’ll just say that we’re just trying to figure out everything out,” Iowa senior guard Tony Perkins said in his postgame media availability. “The last few games have been not that good in defensive rebounding and defense. You’ve got to keep working on it, you know, especially with the young guys.”

During warmups, the Black and Gold faithful were told to stand until the Hawkeyes scored their first basket of the afternoon, an event that was far from immediate. After an official review for possession during the opening 30 seconds, Iowa missed a layup and a mid-range jumper and had a shot blocked before senior guard Tony Perkins made a notch on the scoreboard with a pull-up shot from the elbow with 18:02 remaining.

After fellow senior Patrick McCaffery knocked down a second-chance layup and a three, Iowa found itself with an early 7-2 advantage, but that lead would evaporate into a one-point deficit, as Michigan took command down low to lead, 18-17, midway through the first half. 

Even with Hawkeye big men Owen Freeman, Ben Krikke, and Even Brauns seeing action on the floor, the Wolverines still put 16 points in the paint, led by forward Tarri Reed Jr with eight. Freeman and Krikke combined for three fouls and Iowa didn’t regain the lead till 4:12 remaining when Krikke hit a layup off a turnover.

Michigan associate head coach Phil Martelli lauded the Wolverines for putting the “pressure” on the Hawkeyes by drawing those fouls in the early minutes.

“If you’re always playing around the defense, then you can’t ever say to the referee, ‘We need a foul call here,'” he said.

Fran McCaffery said Freeman and Krikke both started the game as a result of Michigan’s two-post player style, featuring the 6-foot-10 Reed Jr. and 6-foot-9 Olivier Nkamhoua at the four and five spots. The head coach said this style would be an element the Hawkeyes will see often in Big Ten play.

“It didn’t help Owen, he picked up [a foul early],” he said. “I don’t know if that made him a little more tentative.  I said [to him], ‘Just play.’ When he got his third [foul], I left him in there. For him, having that experience to start, go against veteran teams, and kind of figure it out and play through his mistakes, he’ll get better.”

Krikke would continue his production in the post, scoring two more buckets on another layup and lefty hook shot to notch the match at 33 apiece. 

After Michigan guard Nimari Burnett hit each of his two free throws to take the lead, Iowa couldn’t respond in the closing seconds, as McCaffery’s shot was blocked, and first-year guard Pryce Sandfort’s second-chance jumper rimmed out at the buzzer. 

The Hawkeyes shot 38 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, converting just one of their seven three-point attempts. On the defensive side, they racked up six steals and two blocks. 

“We had an opportunity in the first half to get a little bit of a lead with some open looks,” Fran McCaffery. “Our defense was pretty good to start the game … the zone was good to us for a while, but the rebounding wasn’t great.”

Iowa started its second half with another slow start, scoring two points in the opening 3:23 as Michigan went on a 9-2 run, complete with two three-pointers and an alley-oop dunk from forward Nkamhoua.

Martelli credited the Wolverines’ transition defense in limiting Iowa’s offense but also made sure to point out his squad’s ball movement as key to breaking the zone defense.

After that stretch, Iowa made a lineup change, subbing in four new players to pair with Krikke. 

This new rotation didn’t make much of an impact, as Michigan hit seven of their next seven field goals, highlighted by a reverse and-one layup from Reed Jr. On Iowa’s next possession, first-year forward Ladji Dembele was called for a charge after making a drop step on the left block.

Hawkeye head coach Fran McCaffery was less than pleased with the whistle, drawing a technical foul. Just minutes later, McCaffery continued to voice his displeasure after Krikke was called for a block under the basket, leading to his second technical and ejection from the contest. 

“I would say it gave us energy for sure, but I mean, we had energy all throughout the game, we just started getting sluggish the ball,” Perkins said. “We just came together and said, ‘We don’t have our head coach anymore, so we just have to depend on each other.”

With the Hawkeye crowd roaring following the head coach’s departure, Iowa sparked even more excitement when Payton Sandfort hit Freeman on a bounce pass for a transition dunk. That play would be the start of a 6-2 run for the Hawkeyes, but they never got within 10 points as the Wolverines broke the press and nailed timely threes. 

After Michigan’s Terrance Williams’ corner three and Nkamhoua’s layup, Iowa found itself down 20 for the third game in a row, this time with 3:30 remaining. Multiple Hawkeye starters, including Perkins, Patrick McCaffery, Sandfort, and Krikke, would stay on the court to finish the contest. Sandfort hit back-to-back triples to make it an 89-77 affair, but Michigan would eventually pull away. 

When asked his thoughts on the Hawkeyes’ season outlook, Martelli started his answer with simple reassurance.

“Hang on, you’re all going to be busy in March.”

But with three straight losses, all of which were by double digits, such a future remains to be seen.

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About the Contributor
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