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It wasn’t a game, then it was, then it wasn’t again

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Leave it to Iowa to play some abysmal basketball but leave it just close enough at half to goad you into watching the rest of the game, then go up late in the second, then fumble it away. We’ve seen this movie before. This particular version ended with an 84-76 win for the Terps in Iowa City.

Jordan Bohannon knocked down a three to tie it up at 66 with just under 6 minutes to play in the game, and Ahmad Wagner followed it up with a free throw to give the Hawkeyes their first lead of the game. A trip to the line for Tyler Cook then made the Iowa lead 72-69 with 3:19 to play.

It would be short lived.

Iowa decided to not guard Melo Trimble on two consecutive possessions. Trimble made the Hawkeyes pay; he hit two open threes, and it was goodnight for Fran & Co. The junior ended with a team-high 20 points for Maryland while going 5-9 from long range. Trimble was a killer.

Iowa battled the entire second half, and used a 9-0 run to go down just 3 with 11 minutes left. Brady Ellingson hit a tre in the corner to make it close, and five minutes later Bohannon tied it up.

Ahmad Wagner was a revelation in the second half, scoring 10 of his 12 points and bringing down five of his 6 rebounds. He helped cover for a Peter Jok who scored just 2 second-half points.

It was Jok who kept Iowa afloat in the first frame, however, as the Hawkeyes played its worst half of basketball since ... Sunday in Evanston. Iowa shot an abysmal 29 percent from the field early on, and attempted 17(!) threes, making just five in the first half, despite Maryland not being that large or imposing in the paint.

Yet Iowa found itself down just nine points, when in reality it felt like a million. If not for Jok’s 12 points in the first half, this game has a totally different feel. Iowa also didn’t score for over five minutes during the first frame, so there’s that.

Iowa didn’t stay cold and the Hawks drove to the paint with reckless abandon after their poor performance in the first, shooting 41 percent in the second half. The cold hands from earlier on were perhaps too much to overcome, however, and that coupled with Maryland’s constant hot-handedness spelt doom for the Hawks.

The Terps ended on 30-53 shooting, and 11-23 from three. Iowa ended the game with just 7 made threes on 28 attempts and 25-70 from the field; what was thought to be an asset became a weakness.

And the shooting is where Iowa really got beat. The Hawkeyes out-rebounded the Terps ferociously on offense, pulling down 20 offensive boards compared to Maryland’s 6. The Hawkeyes did get out-rebounded 31-20 on the defensive end, so it did sort of even out.

The Terrapins also did their best Iowa impression when they had the ball, turning it over 21 times. 21! Iowa scored 30 points off those turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.

This game featured some interesting tinkering with the lineups, with Moss, Wagner, Ellingson and Kriener seeing extended minutes. Whatever Fran had cooking worked though, as Iowa notched 26 points off its bench.

And that’s that. Iowa now falls to 3-4 in the conference and has a long break until it travels to Illinois next Wednesday. Maryland is in the driver’s seat of the Big Ten now, which sucks because Iowa has shown it can play with and beat anyone in the conference this year. But horseshoes, hand grenades, cigars, whatever.

Other Notes

  • Dale Jones made his first on-court appearance since November. The senior jacked up two ATROCIOUS threes early in the first half, and I don’t think he ever saw the court again.
  • Dom Uhl must be injured as he didn’t see any action tonight and had his hand taped up. We’ll probably know more about that later on.
  • Ahmad Wagner, with 16 minutes tonight, saw his most meaningful action since Iowa played Delaware State, where he logged 22 minutes of action. His 12 points also tie a season-high.
  • Tyler Cook is starting to look more and more like his pre-B1G self (8 points, 7 boards) but he’s still not quite there yet.
  • 19-25 for free throws. Not bad.
  • Fran really wanted to get T’d up late in the game: