Losing it Late



So the Hawkeyes have a late-game problem that has haunted them all season. As I've said before in another thread, Iowa is about 4 minutes and one less #Frantrum from being undefeated right now. In all reality, it doesn't matter that the Hawkeyes aren't undefeated. Their 3 losses are to current top-10 teams and are 41-1 to this point. Heck, they moved UP in the AP Poll this week and are still top-20 in RPI and BPI.

But imagine where the team would be had they won those games. There would be no questions of talent, no questioning why depth hasn't resulted in wins, and probably less #Frantrums. So here is why Iowa is losing:

56-75. Iowa has a -19 scoring margin in the final two minutes of the basketball game. Here is the saddest part: Iowa outscores opponents 1235-909 in the first 38 minutes.

If a team scores perfectly consistent throughout a game, they should score 5% of their points every two minutes. So from game to game, the points will vary (in a game Iowa scores 100 points, they should be scoring 5 points every 2 minutes, in a game they score 70, they should be at 3.5). But for argument's sake, we will take their season average (86.1 ppg) as the reference point, meaning the Hawks should score about 4.3 points every 2 minutes.

The Hawks have only eclipsed the 4-point mark in the final 2 minutes 5 times this season (6 if you count their 4-point performance against Arkansas-Pine Bluff — but we aren't going to). They are averaging only 4.3% of their total points in the final 2 minutes - a time when teams hope to score a big chunk of their points. Now, being .7% short of a goal really isn't that big of a deal for the most part. However, it's the OTHER team that has killed Iowa at the end of game.

Iowa's opponents are scoring 7.6% of their total points in the final 2 minutes. In other words, Iowa is giving up a lot of points at the end of games. So here is the comparison in Iowa's 3 losses this season in the final two minutes:

Iowa | Villanova

Score @ 2:00 : 81-82

FGs: 1-3 (.333) | 0-2 (.000)

3 PT: 0-2 (.000) | 0-2 (.000)

FTs: 0-0 (.000) | 6-8 (.750)

Reb (Off-total): 0-0 | 3-5

T/O: 1 | 1

PF: 4 | 0

Final Score: 83-88

Iowa | Iowa State

Score @ 2:00: 81-77

FGs: 0-4 (.000) | 1-1 (1.000)

3 PT: 0-1 (.000) | 0-0 (.000)

FTs: 1-4 (.250) | 6-8 (.750)

Reb (Off-Total): 4-5 | 0-3

T/O: 1 | 0

PF: 4 | 3

Final Score: 82-85

Now, this one I will extend to 2:30, when it was a 1-point game. Provides for a better view on Iowa's inability to finish a game.

Iowa | Wisconsin

Score @ 2:30: 63-64

FGs: 3-6 (.500) | 2-5 (.400)

3 PT: 1-3 (.333) | 1-2 (.500)

FTs: 1-2 (.500) | 6-7 (.857)

Reb (Off-Total): 0-2 | 1-3

T/O: 0 | 0

PF: 4 | 1

Final Score: 71-75

So in the 3 losses combined:

Iowa | Opponent

Score at ~2:00: 225-223

FGs: 4-13 (.308) | 3-8 (.375)

3 PT: 1-6 (.167) | 1-4 (.250)

FTs: 2-6 (.333) | 18-23 (.783)

Reb (Off-Total): 4-6 | 4-11

T/O: 2 | 1

PF: 12 | 4

Final Score: 236-248

Obviously, Iowa is just flat-out under performing in every category. There isn't a category Iowa is better in than their opponent in close games.

Iowa had an impressive final 2 minutes against Notre Dame, scoring 11 points (11.2% of total points). However, their defense also allowed 10 points in the final 2 minutes, which made up 9.3% of all of Notre Dame's points - which is way too much.

Iowa had a 38-point lead on Arkansas-Pine Bluff before allowing a 46-point second half with 11 of those points coming in the final 2 minutes. That's 18% of ARPB's total points. They scored nearly 1/5 of their TOTAL POINTS in the final two minutes of the game. The 25-point win was no longer impressive.

Iowa has a last-minute problem. In fact, they have a 2nd half problem. They are outscoring opponents 663-428 (44.2-28.5) in the first half, yet only outscoring opponents 609-535 (40.6-35.7) in the second half.

Even more concerning is Iowa's first-half leads in their 3 losses. They outscored each of their opponents in the first half, combining for a 122-95 lead. That's averaging a 9-point lead over ranked opponents, only to be outscored 114-153 for the remainder of the game.

It seems to be a lack of coaching adjustments at halftime and a lack of focus or motivation to win games when it counts the most. I attended the Iowa-Iowa State game and noticed deer-in-the-headlights looks from Iowa players and hanging heads. It was looks of pure confusion from a team that mostly dominated Iowa State for 38 minutes of the game.

But I will leave everyone with this: A bright spot. Against a now 12-3 Xavier team (#24 RPI), Iowa closed the gap to draw overtime and eventually the win. Iowa NEVER LED in regulation, yet found a way to tie it at the end when nothing seemed right. Xavier went on to finish last in the tournament, which may show that the Bahamas messed with the team's focus, but it's a bright spot either way. The last two minutes of overtime were lame because Iowa had basically sealed it, so here are the final 2 minutes of regulation:

Iowa | Xavier

Score @ 2:00: 63-67

FGs: 2-3 (.666) | 0-3 (.000)

3 PT: 0-0 (.000) | 0-0 (.000)

FTs: 2-2 (1.000) | 2-2 (1.000)

Reb (Off-Total): 0-2 (BOTH BLOCKS) | 3-4

T/O: 0 | 2

PF: 1 | 1

Final Score: 69-69

The team shot better than Xavier and two blocks by Olaseni (which are counted as rebounds since they aren't technically turnovers) and two forced turnovers were huge in tying the game. Had McCabe's final shot gone in instead of being blocked, it could have been a perfect 3-3 from the field, outscoring Xavier 8-2. Even without it, it showed this team CAN make something happen in the final 2 minutes.

Share your thoughts.

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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