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Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Disappointment was prevalent from outside the Iowa locker room, but it wasn’t confined to just the final result Thursday night.
No. 5 Iowa dropped an 85-78 setback to No. 22 Indiana before an electric and sold-out Assembly Hall. But more than just slipping into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten standings, there was one aspect of the game that really grinded at the players, and that was the way they defended the post early on.
Indiana (20-5, 10-2) entered the game ranked third among Big Ten teams in rebounding margin (plus-8.3) while Iowa (19-5, 10-2) sat ninth (plus-1.3), so that was a difficult match-up for Iowa. But the ease with which Indiana crashed the boards and picked up baskets on multiple chances, left distaste with the players afterward.
“We gave up way too many offensive rebounds,” Iowa point guard Mike Gesell said. “A team like Indiana, it’s hard, too, when you give up that many offensive rebounds. They’re a team that really thrives on getting those boards and hitting 3s off those or getting easy putbacks.”
“They’re an aggressive, attacking team. Very athletic,” Iowa center Adam Woodbury said. “They attack from multiple positions. Obviously their big guys attack; their guards were getting in the mix as well. A couple of times we didn’t put bodies on people and they just outfought us multiple times. As the game went on, we got tougher, but that little lull in the beginning of the game really hurt us.”
Less than nine minutes into the game, Indiana led 18-10. The Hoosiers held a 12-5 rebounding edge but more importantly was 10-2 in second-chance points. Two of those possessions resulted in 3-point baskets.
It wasn’t simply a battle of centers where Iowa got beat early on; it happened mostly along the perimeter.
“They were running from the 3-point line, and they were rebounding from the perimeter,” Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff said. “They came out with a lot of energy. We came out kind of tentative, especially on the rebounding end.”
“We were not locked in,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “We did a much better job in the second half, I thought.”
The Hoosiers out-rebounded Iowa 21-11 in the first half but held just a 39-35 edge overall. Both teams ended with 19 offensive rebounds.
Woodbury, in particular, rebounded quickly. He finished with 15 boards, including nine on the offensive glass. He has 44 rebounds in his last three games and 84 over his last seven.
Iowa’s starters all played at least 30 minutes and had to compensate for zero bench points. That left the starters gassed by the game’s end.
“They run a high-tempo offense, and we kind of pride ourselves on the same thing,” Woodbury said. “So it was a very high-tempo game, both sides. Nobody really tried to slow it down a lot.
“We knew what to expect coming into this place and they just kind of beat us at our own game. Transition, we didn’t play as well defensively. Offensively, we got some good looks, we just got away from it a little bit.”
Iowa guard Peter Jok, who briefly left the game after getting kicked in the calf, said Indiana’s early aggressiveness was crucial in the game’s outcome.
“They made a lot of 3s in the beginning,” Jok said. “We didn’t come ready to play. They were more aggressive than us and made more plays than us.”
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