Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa basketball tries to escape basement horror

Wednesday's Iowa-Minnesota game features two 0-for-February teams

Iowa forward Luka Garza (55) blocks a shot by Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy (3) during the Hawkeyes’ 94-80 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 30. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa forward Luka Garza (55) blocks a shot by Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy (3) during the Hawkeyes’ 94-80 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 30. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Things have gone terribly wrong. Two groups of students from rival universities are trapped in a cellar. To escape, one group will have to take out the other.

The tagline of a dreadful direct-to-cable horror movie? Hopefully not. The story of Wednesday’s Iowa-Minnesota 8:05 p.m. (BTN) men’s basketball game at the Gophers’ Williams Arena? Definitely.

The Hawkeyes and Gophers are 3-13 in the Big Ten. The loser of this contest will almost surely be tied with Rutgers for the Big Ten’s worst record, since 3-13 Rutgers is at Ohio State Tuesday night.

Will the Iowa-Minnesota winner be the Hawkeyes team with the five-game losing streak that has lost seven league road games by 13 or more points? Or will it be the Minnesota squad with the nine-game losing streak that let victory elude it Monday night at Wisconsin?

And what events will be shown on NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage at the same time?

Never mind that and let’s focus on another wintry wonderland, Minneapolis in February. What is Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery looking for from his Hawkeyes there Wednesday night?

“What I want to see is a group of individuals that keeps grinding so that our team gets better,” McCaffery said Tuesday. “That’s all I’m asking for.”

It’s a season-gone-sour, but can the Hawkeyes reach the end of the schedule without being sour? With 16:35 left in Iowa’s 84-82 home loss to Indiana, McCaffery clearly showed displeasure with Isaiah Moss’ defense and pulled the sophomore starter of all 29 games this season out of that one. Moss never returned.

A message sent and received?


“He’s a great kid,” McCaffery said. “He wants to be great. He’s played well.

“I just thought, at the 11-minute mark particularly, we went with the lineup of Nicholas (Baer), Ahmad (Wagner) and Ryan (Kriener) with T.C. (Tyler Cook) and J-Bo (Jordan Bohannon) until they ran out of gas. We went back with Maishe (Dailey) because he had played well.

“Isaiah gets it. He’s a really good player, a team guy all the way through. He’ll be starting again (Wednesday).”

The Gophers are coming off a 73-63 overtime loss at Wisconsin Monday night. Minnesota led 58-51 with 5:58 left, and 59-56 with 13 seconds to go in regulation, but the game got away.

Included in the Gophers’ losing streak is a 94-80 decision at Iowa on Jan. 30 that was one of the Hawkeyes’ finest games of the season. Six Iowa players scored 10 or more points and the team shot 55 percent from the field.

Neither team has won since.


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