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TEXAS 71, IOWA 57: MIKE GESELLS, BUT WHO'S BUYING?

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The Longhorns pull away with a huge second half from Jonathan Holmes to win big against the Hawkeyes.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

So, uh, about Iowa looking improved over last year...

Iowa fought gamely through the first half, and even held a double-digit lead as late as 30-20, but Texas' size and shooting overwhelmed the Hawkeyes as Texas rolled, 71-57, in Madison Square Garden.

Texas point guard Isaiah Turner was impossible for any of Iowa's guards to slow down, and Jonathan Holmes was a matchup nightmare; his 19 points on 12 shots helped key Texas' second-half surge.

Iowa's point guards had a miserable evening not only guarding Turner, but creating on the offensive end too. Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons and Trey Dickerson combined to go 3-20 from the field for nine whole points to go along with five turnovers. Gesell was especially out of his class, making unforced errors and driving for shots that the long Texas defenders had zero difficulty erasing.

This is becoming a pattern for Gesell, who went 22-80 in Iowa's 1-7 swoon at the end of last season. He gets rattled fairly easily against quality competition and even when he creates contact in the lane, he virtually never gets the call. I don't know what the answer here is—clearly, neither Clemmons nor Dickerson shined either tonight—but there's no reason for defenders to fear Gesell right now.

Jarrod Uthoff started off strong with six of Iowa's first eight points, and he had a relatively good day on defense with three steals and two blocks to go with his six boards. He lost his offensive rhythm fairly early and by the second half, looked like the Uthoff of last year—tentative and passive, rarely looking for his own shot. We're talking about the best shooter on the team here (no offense, Josh Oglesby)—disappearing as a threat is simply not an option if Iowa's going to be anything better than a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team.

Aaron White was stellar, though. His weakness has always been long, physical defenders, which Texas has in bunches, and instead White turned in a massive performance: 23 points, six rebounds, two steals and an assist. He created a boatload of fouls, going 14-16 from the free throw line and keeping Texas in foul trouble in the first half. If anything, Iowa needed more of his work on offense, but the cold reality is that the Hawkeyes were overmatched no matter what White was doing.

Lackluster composure, leads evaporating during prolonged cold snaps, poor production from the point... this seems uncomfortably familiar. Let's hope this isn't just more of the same from last season and Iowa can improve on this. Otherwise, woof.

Tomorrow, Iowa gets the loser of Syracuse-California—or more simply, California. The game hasn't been played yet, but let's not kid ourselves, it's Cal. We'll see if the Hawkeyes can turn things around and at least not leave New York empty-handed.