BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In a season filled with jagged edges, the cuts are starting to draw blood for the Iowa men's basketball team.
The Hawkeyes dropped their third straight game, this one 93-86 last night at Indiana's Assembly Hall. Before last Saturday, Iowa had yet to lose more than one game in a row. Before Tuesday, the Hawkeyes had yet to lose to an unranked team. Before last night, the Hawkeyes hadn't lost to a team that wasn't in position for an NCAA tournament berth.
Defense again stymied the Hawkeyes, especially in the first half. Iowa gave up at least 93 points for the second straight game and failed to generate meaningful stops in a wild first half. The game's pace slowed in the second half, but when Iowa needed a play, its clutch was stuck in neutral -- on both ends of the court.
Iowa (19-9, 8-7 Big Ten) led 60-53 with 15:50 left in the game. Indiana (16-12, 6-9) crept back in the game with a Stanford Robinson basket, a Will Sheehey 3-pointer, and a Jeremy Hollowell free throw.
Then, almost with the basketball-gods-must-be-with-Indiana precision, Evan Gordon hit the shot of the night, banking a 3-pointer straight on to give the Hoosiers a 62-60 lead with 13:07 left.
Iowa went six consecutive possessions without a basket during Indiana's 9-0 run. That included three turnovers and a charging call. The Hawkeyes retook the lead at 66-64 on a Melsahn Basabe basket. Then the Hoosiers raced to a 13-3 run, capped by a Robinson three-point play to lead by eight points. The Hawkeyes never could climb closer than five points the rest of the way.
It was the first men's basketball game at the venerable arena since a 50-pound metal facing crashed to the lower bowl on Feb. 18, the original date the teams were supposed to play. The game was delayed nine days, and the arena was deemed safe by engineers late last week.
Sheehey was honored before the game for scoring 1,000 career points. He responded with a career-high 30 points. Devyn Marble scored 20 to continue his run as the Big Ten's only player to score in double digits in every league game. Basabe returned to action after missing Tuesday's game after an illness and playing only one minute on Saturday. Iowa's Aaron White scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The teams raced up and down the court in the first half with Iowa leading 52-49 at halftime. Each team mounted runs at breakneck speed. The Hawkeyes stormed to a 10-2 lead, scoring on their first five possessions. Indiana scored eight straight to tie it up at 10-10. Iowa scored the next seven, followed by a 7-0 run by Indiana.
The Hoosiers rushed to an eight-point lead on a Jeremy Hollowell jumper, then Iowa rallied with an 8-2 run to cut its deficit to 45-43. The Hawkeyes finished on a 9-0 run, highlighted with a a pair of baskets by Aaron White with assists from Mike Gesell, a Zach McCabe 3-pointer and a turnaround jumper from Gabe Olaseni.
Iowa shot 59 percent in the first half (23 of 39) while the Hoosiers were equally as prolific (17 of 32). Sheehey scored 19 in the first half alone, while Marble had 14 points and four assists.The Hawkeyes return home Sunday to play Purdue (15-13, 5-10).