ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Iowa entered Wednesday’s top-25 Big Ten men’s basketball duel in unfamiliar territory.
The Hawkeyes were ranked 10th, their first trip inside the top10 in 12 seasons. It was not a winning return to the national spotlight. Too many turnovers, not enough perimeter shooting and too much Nik Stauskas added up to a 75-67 loss to No.21 Michigan at Crisler Center.
“You can’t turn it over 14 times here and win, I don’t think,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “If you’re not making 3s and turning the ball over, you’re really going to put a lot of pressure on your offense in the half court to score at a high percentage.”
Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard who looked like the Big Ten’s best player, matched a career high with 26 points, including four 3-pointers in nine attempts. He also had five assists.
Iowa, entering the game fifth nationally in scoring at 86.8 points a game, made just two of 10 triples. The Hawkeyes, off to their best start in 16 seasons, fell to 4-2 in the Big Ten and 15-4 overall.
“Everyone wants to be respected, everyone wants accolades,” said Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe, who scored 15 of his season-high 17 points in the first half. “There’s a responsibility that comes with that. We have to focus on what we didn’t do (Wednesday) and not let it happen again Saturday (at Northwestern).”
Michigan, winning its eighth straight game, improved to 6-0 in the Big Ten and 14-4 overall. The only team to beat the Wolverines in nine home games this season was top-ranked Arizona 72-70.
Iowa’s game plan was to pound the ball inside against a Michigan team that starts four guards. It wasn’t a bad idea, considering Basabe’s strong start and Aaron White’s white-hot finish. White scored 13 straight Iowa points down the stretch and finished with 17.
But Iowa’s size advantage inside was a disadvantage when it came to guarding Michigan on the perimeter. Stauskas was the difference maker, shooting over Iowa defenders and beating them on the dribble drive.
“He’s obviously someone everyone marks when they get ready to play Michigan,” McCaffery said. “He was still able to get shots out of the offense. He gets shots on his own. He’s really doing a lot off the dribble. His length helps him there. He’s got range, obviously.”
White had trouble with Stauskas on the dribble, but schooled him in the paint down the stretch.
“I’m really disappointed in myself with how I played,” White said. “It’s the second game in a row I haven’t showed up until it was late. I felt like I let my teammates down.”
White had just one point at halftime and Iowa trailed 38-34. He was shut out in the first half Sunday against Minnesota, and scored 18 in the second half of a 94-73 victory.
“I know I’m one of the top players in this league, and I have to play like that every night,” White said. “It finally clicked. But I should have impacted the game more than I did.”
Iowa was down 62-51 with 8 minutes to play when White came alive. He scored on four consecutive possessions to cut the deficit to 62-58 at the 6:28 mark.
It was at that point that McCaffery felt his team started to lose its composure. Devyn Marble took, and missed, a quick 3-pointer. He had Iowa’s only two 3-pointers and finished with 13 points.
“If that goes in, we probably win the game,” McCaffery said.
Stauskas made a jumper, and White countered with a dunk. But Michigan freshman Zach Irvin made a 3-pointer. Iowa never got the ball down one possession again.
“When the momentum shifted to us is when I think we had some poor decisions, and that’s not like us,” McCaffery said.
Iowa has made a living in transition this season, but Michigan’s ability to score and Hawkeye turnovers in transition limited those opportunities for a team that had averaged 81.8 points in the first five Big Ten games.
And Iowa’s bench, averaging 36.3 points a game this season, was limited to just eight.
“The bench was a little gun shy,” McCaffery said. “That’s not typical. Usually they come in and play with reckless abandon that I think is necessary for our team.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball