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Iowa was in control of this one, until it wasn’t

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes teams can overcome a game where its best players are off their game, and rise to a win at a critical occasion.

This was not one of those times.

Jordan Bohannon and Peter Jok combined for 13 points (all 13 were from Jok) and went 0-11 from three in a 77-66 loss to Michigan State, and no amount of stellar (and more often, average) play from Ahmad Wagner, Nicholas Baer, Tyler Cook or Cordell Pemsl could overcome the absence of a signature Peter Jok outing from this Iowa team.

It didn’t look that way the entire time. Iowa led 32-31 at the half, though the Hawkeyes really should have led by more given the fact Michigan State turned it over a whopping 12 times. Iowa meanwhile turned it over just 8 times the entire game, so at least there’s that.

Iowa resorted to an unconventional lineup for the majority of the first frame—Jok, Christian Williams, Tyler Cook, Ahmad Wagner and Baer saw significant minutes with some Dom Uhl and Isaiah Moss sprinkled in, and it worked. The fresh feet kept Sparty on its toes, and Williams was a force on the defensive end.

But then the second half happened.

Iowa went back to its normal starting lineup, with the hope Jok could improve upon his 4-point, 1-6 shooting first half the same way he did against Minnesota.

He did not.

Sparty used 12 second-half points from Nick Ward and a double-double from Miles Bridges to assert themselves all over the court in the second frame, and there’s nothing the Hawkeyes could do to stop State from scoring while creating any sort of scoring chances on their own end. Twenty-one points off of turnovers wasn’t enough for Iowa, and frankly nothing could help Fran McCaffery’s squad get out of its own way. Iowa shot just 33 percent from the field, and 4-21 from three. That’s just not a winning equation.

Iowa was out-rebounded 46 to 33 and had no answer for Bridges or Kenny Goins in the paint, who each recorded double-digit rebounds. They frustrated Baer, Cook and Pemsl in the second half so much so where Iowa had just 8 offensive rebounds. Iowa couldn’t get any second chance points and put up gross shots when it did.

I was cautiously optimistic going in to the road trips against Minnesota and Michigan State. We are Iowa fans, and this sucks but at least we’re used to this feeling, right? Right? RIGHT?

Iowa has the whole week off until Illinois comes to town for a Saturday afternoon game on Feb. 18. Let’s get revenge against the Illini.

Other notes

-This was probably Christian Williams’ best game as a Hawkeye. He had 4 points 3 assists and 3 steals which isn’t eye-popping, but he was damn good on the defensive end. He also got stuffed by the rim once so that was less than ideal.

-Cordell Pemsl had 10 points and 7 boards despite being outmatched in the paint often. Once he trades in some of that baby fat for muscle he becomes a force.

-Despite Williams playing so well, I’m still not so sure why Bohannon was put in a drawer. He played just 18 minutes, which possibly contributed to his cold shooting.

-Baer was the only guy who could buy a shot, notching 9 points going 3-5 from range.

-”Go Green, Go White” is the dumbest chant in sports.