I don't know what to say anymore.
Iowa storms back from a 14-point deficit, takes a late lead over visiting Indiana, on Senior Night, in front of the loudest crowd of the season... and then just like that, the offense grinds to a halt, as it has done in late-game situations time and time again. Yogi Ferrell's three-pointer was the effective killer, but it was bound to be something or other, and Iowa dropped its fourth straight game (and fifth in six games), 81-78.
Peter Jok had an open look at a tying three-pointer after a hectic last 30 seconds of the game, but it clanged well short, and the Hoosiers got to celebrate on Iowa's court as they wrapped up the Big Ten Championship.
Iowa took a 74-72 lead on Jok's layup to break IU's spell and get the crowd roaring, then a free throw by Adam Woodbury gave Iowa a 75-74 lead with 3:59 left. Iowa then missed its next eight shots while the Hoosiers crept back ahead, and were it not for a desperation three-pointer by Anthony Clemmons with seven seconds left, Iowa would have finished the game on an 0-fer. And just naming shooting stats feels like blaming it on the luck of shots not going in, and we promise you that was not the case; Iowa's movement and spacing were downright atrocious. The Hawkeyes missed the shots because the shots were universally bad.
Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa with 18 points, but it came on 5-for-17 shooting, including another poor night at the rim. Uthoff's not strong enough to power through contact there, and he's scarcely getting calls on the drives either. It's a poor combination, especially as his three-point shooting remains in a prolonged cold snap (1-for-5 tonight, 24% since the start of February). Uthoff's defensive effort is still strong and like good leaders do, he finds ways to make an impact even if his shot isn't falling. But his shot is doing him and the Hawkeyes few favors these days, and against a team with as many sharpshooters as the Hoosiers have, it's especially troublesome.
It's a shame, because this was the first strong performance from Iowa's bench in way too long, including a surprising eight points and two steals by Christian Williams, long an afterthought in the Iowa rotation. He was the first (and only) guard off the bench Tuesday night, rescuing the team when Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons both committed two first-half fouls. Williams still has a long way to go, but the potential was on finally on display. Nicholas Baer broke out of his long slump as well, hitting two huge threes as Iowa stormed back in the second half, and Ahmad Wagner was the physical interior presence Iowa needed him to be against IU's large frontcourt, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds in just 17 minutes of work.
Iowa falls to 11-6 in the Big Ten with just a trip to Michigan remaining, and could theoretically still end up as an 8 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, a scenario that sounded about as outlandish as winning the PowerBall just three weeks ago. But with so many teams jammed into the 2-through-8 window as we speak, there's really no telling what Iowa's BTT path is going to look like, even with only one game remaining.