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’s second-half comeback spoiled late against Indiana as Hawkeyes drop three of their last four contests

Powered by center Kel’el Ware, the Hoosiers finished the final 1:26 of play on an 8-0 run to vanquish the Hawkeyes, 74-68.
Theodore Retsinas
Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery reacts to a foul call during a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Maryland Terrapins at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. The Terrapins defeated the Hawkeyes, 69-67.

The Iowa men’s basketball team had won four straight contests against Indiana and was looking to earn its fifth-straight victory over the Hoosiers – a feat it hadn’t accomplished in 26 years. That streak would conclude on Tuesday night, as the Hawkeyes fell, 74-68, spoiling a 12-point second-half comeback at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. 

The Hawkeyes were led in scoring for the second-consecutive game by Payton Sandfort, who piled up 26 points. Finishing close behind was Tony Perkins with 22. The pair shot a combined 47 percent from the floor. 

On the defensive end, head coach Fran McCaffery’s squad couldn’t contain Hoosier 7-foot center Kel’el Ware, who dropped 23 points and 10 rebounds as Indiana dominated down low, posting 45 rebounds to Iowa’s 32 and scoring 32 points in the paint to Iowa’s 24. 

The beginning of the contest had the makings of an offensive explosion, as neither squad missed a shot in the opening two minutes. The Hoosiers, who didn’t connect on a triple in their last game, splashed two of its first three shots from three-point land and 4-of-6 overall from the field as they took a 15-7 lead in the opening five minutes. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over twice in a row during this stretch, leading to four Indiana points. 

Iowa narrowed the lead to four with threes from guard Josh Dix and Sandfort, as well as a post-bucket from big man Owen Freeman. The seven-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, who accounts for 13.1 percent of the Hawkeyes’ points this season, put a nifty spin move on a defender for a reverse layup. 

Yet these highlights didn’t last for long, as Indiana jumped out to an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to double-up Iowa, 30-15. Ware jammed a dunk over Dix, then followed up the slam by banking in a triple from beyond the arc. 

Indiana’s offensive prowess was a far cry from Iowa, which missed ten straight field goal attempts and connected on 1-of-14 shots from the floor over a multi-minute stretch leading into the final 3:47 of first-half play. With 2:39 remaining in the period, the Hawkeyes finally found their rhythm, as Sandfort and Perkins combined for nine points to bring Iowa down 11 heading into the break. 

Even with 6-foot-9 forward Malik Reneau exiting the game early due to a left ankle injury, Iowa was still outrebounded, 19-16, and outscored in the paint, 18-8. The Hawkeyes shot 28.1 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, while shooting 4-of-13 from behind the arc. 

The start of the second half didn’t bode much better, as the Hoosiers caught the Hawkeyes slacking. Taking the ball out beneath its attacking basket, Indiana’s Mackenzie Mgbako tossed the ball off Freeman’s back, then caught the ricochet for an easy layup as the Hoosiers found themselves up 12 in the opening three minutes. 

That advantage would eventually dwindle to six, as the Sandfort-Perkins combo delivered 11 straight points. Perkins’ jumper from the elbow brought the Hawkeyes within two with 11:09 remaining.

Just seconds later, the senior from Indianapolis tied the game at 49 with an and-one right-handed layup. 

Iowa would get the lead for the first time since the opening 30 seconds of the contest after the Hawkeyes forced three straight turnovers and Dix converted a Sandfort pass for an and-one layup. 

The two squads would play some back-and-forth basketball over the next several minutes, highlighted by Ware’s posterizing and-one jam over Freeman.

Ware appeared to be shaken up after the play, grabbing at his leg but stayed on the hardwood down the stretch as Indiana took a 62-60 lead with 5:07 remaining. 

Five Perkins’ points, along with a second-chance basket from Freeman put Iowa ahead, 66-64, with 2:20 remaining. Indiana answered right back after Hoosier guard Trey Galloway swished a pair of free throws. Then, with two seconds left on the shot clock, Perkins found Sandfort in the corner for two – tying his career-high point total. 

Hoosier guard Gabe Cupps drilled a three, and on the following Hawkeye possession, Perkins drove the lane, only to be denied and force an errant pass to the top of the key. His offering was intercepted by Galloway and resulted in a made free-throw after a foul on Sandfort. 

After an air-ball triple from Sandfort, Indiana provided the final blow. Mgbako’s corner three clanged off the rim, and Dix couldn’t corral the rebound, falling out of bounds and throwing the ball at Freeman’s feet. Galloway nabbed the loose ball and fed Ware for a triumphant dunk, putting Indiana up four. 

A pair of made free throws concluded an 8-0 run for the Hoosiers over the final 1:26, vanquishing Iowa’s second-half comeback and its sixth Big Ten loss of the season and third loss in its last four games.

Up next

The Hawkeyes flock home to Iowa City for a matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday at 6 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on FS1. Ohio State is 13-8 on the season and 3-7 in conference play, most recently falling to No. 14 Illinois, 87-75. on Tuesday. Guard Bruce Thornton leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 16.1 per game.

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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
Theodore Retsinas, Photojournalist
Theodore Retsinas is a freshman at the University of Iowa studying Neuroscience.