If this all feels like déjà vu, you can understand: it's the Hawkeyes second freefall in three seasons. And lo and behold, a team that spent most of the Big Ten season as a frontrunner for the title may have just dealt itself a crippling blow in the race as Iowa dropped a home game to Wisconsin, 67-59.
Peter Jok led the way with 21 points, but 17 of those came in an otherwise poor first half for the Hawkeyes, who couldn't even leverage Jok's hot start to a lead; Wisconsin went into the break up one. Jarrod Uthoff had spent most of the first half on the bench in foul trouble, though, and he sparked the Hawkeyes to a quick six-point lead after the break, and order seemed to be restored.
Alas, letting a streaky team like Wisconsin hang around for so long is a terrible idea, and once again, the Badgers closed out the game hot from deep; Wisconsin hit five three-pointers in the last 10 minutes, and Iowa responded with... none. Uthoff finished the game just 2-for-9 from deep, and unless something good happens in the Big Ten Tournament (or even, we suppose, the NCAAs), he'll finish his Iowa career without a win against his former school.
Iowa missed 14 of their last 16 shots— Jon Miller (@HawkeyeNation) February 25, 2016
Iowa's bench continues to languish in productive poverty, as the four regular contributors gave the Hawkeyes just four points on eight shots from the field in their combined 47 minutes of play. Dom Uhl has regressed significantly as an offensive presence, and it's hard to say what value he provides on the defensive end. Nicholas Baer and Ahmad Wagner are quite clearly freshmen, and Brady Ellingson has been an utter horror show on offense since the Big Ten season started; here, he turned over the ball within seconds of his first appearance in the game, and it wasn't even a surprise. It's not that Fran McCaffery has any better options sitting on the bench, either; his choices are a rapidly deflating pool of talent on the bench, or trying to ride his starters for 35+ minutes apiece, and neither is a good option.
Iowa's bench has scored 56 points in six February games. 28 of them came in the 73-49 win against Penn State.— Mike (@mikjones24) February 25, 2016
All told, this is Iowa's sixth straight loss to Wisconsin, and for the first time in conference play this season, Iowa is a full game behind in the Big Ten standings; Indiana is the front-runner and can all but clinch with a win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday. Iowa should be favored in that game, but with the way Iowa's limping into the last few weeks of the season, it's hard to say exactly what games Iowa should be expected to win anymore.