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WISCONSIN 72, IOWA 66: THE FIRST CUT

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Iowa falls short for the first time all year

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

It was a night of coming up short in terms of shots and bounces for our formerly undefeated Iowa Hawkeye basketball team. Cold shooting and a litany of other reasons contributed to the 72-66 loss at the hands of the No. 22 Badgers.

Neither team could get much going early on. Quick whistles and interesting shot selection will do that do you. Big Ten Basketball is BACK.

The first half ended in a 27-27 tie. Some call it defensive poetry. Others call it Slopshow 2018. The announcing crew made a point to describe this game as being a great first half of basketball. That’s one way to put a half that saw Iowa:

  • Shoot 2-12 from three (Joe Wieskamp and Nicolas Baer each went 1-2)
  • Shoot 11-30 from the floor (Jordan Bohannon shot 0-7 in the first half)
  • Get to the line just four times despite playing almost eight minutes in the bonus.

This game never really got into any sort of rhythm. Turnovers and shooting and no lead greater than five points for either team will do that to you.

As gross as it was, it did produce one murdered rim.

Tyler Cook really kept Iowa alive in the first frame; he had a team-high 10 points and made his presence felt on both ends of the court in a way I feel like we haven’t seen since he was a freshman. He was vocal, aggressive and commanded a lot of attention from Wisconsin. And really, that’s what this whole story should be about. Cook was an absolute monster tonight. He ended the game with 19 points, 15 boards and 4 assists. He was a joy to watch all night.

To put his dominance in perspective: he had a double double with 14 minutes to play. That’s nuts!

Big ups to Nicolas Baer in the first half as well; he was the spark off the bench he can be counted on, pulling down 3 boards, scoring 4 and blocking 2 shots in just 8 minutes of action. He was a big part of the reason why Ethan Happ was rendered to just 4 at half.

The second half made up for the lackluster one that preceded it.

Back-to-back put-ins from Luka Garza and Cook set up quick offensive possessions for Wisconsin in the early minutes. Jordan Bohannon found some touch and hit two consecutive threes, and all of a sudden Iowa was up 43-36. Bohannon ended the game with 11 points, but on 3-12 shooting. That’s not gonna cut it. He was scrapping on the defensive end, but it felt like Iowa really could’ve used a sharpshooter in this one. This team simply isn’t built to win games when it’s only shooting 25 percent from range.

Now right around here was the turning point. Iowa went up 46-38 there and it felt like they had the momentum to step on Wisconsin’s throat and finish this game. Instead of sticking with the lineup that was currently enjoying an 18-9 run, the break presented the chance to get starters rest and sub-in a completely new lineup.

So naturally, Wisconsin clawed back. The Badgers secured the lead with 6 12 minutes to go and never let it slip away. Ethan Happ fouling out with 45 seconds wasn’t enough. It did produce a fun sequence, though: after Bohannon made both his free throws, D’Mitrik Trice hit a three to make it 68-63 with 20 seconds left. Bohannon drove the court and made a pull-up three to put us back in sniffing distance, but the cookie crumbled the wrong way.

Next up, Iowa travels to East Lansing on Monday. A bounce back win over Michigan State would be neat!

Other notes

  • Ethan Happ ended with just 13 points and 1-4 from the line. What’s gonna happen to his KenPom score?
  • Iowa committed just 12 turnovers, but couldn’t stymie Wisconsin enough; the Badgers coughed it up just nine times.
  • Iowa didn’t really have an answer for Trice. He ended with 20 points and was the most clutch player on the court.
  • All in all, this was pretty disappointing. Iowa had more than a few chances to come away with a win, but to take a football term ... simply couldn’t execute, it seemed.