IOWA CITY — Luka Garza was shouldering responsibility and making promises late Thursday night.
Garza had just scored 28 points against Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but his fourth-ranked Iowa men’s basketball team was on the wrong side of an 81-69 score. So it’s 6-2 in the Big Ten when it expected to be 7-1.
Only three of Garza’s points, all free throws, came from the 12-minute mark of the second half to the 1-minute mark. Iowa went without a field goal in that time as its 53-44 lead turned into a 73-61 deficit.
Indiana swamped Garza defensively in the second half, and no one else picked up the slack. Joe Wieskamp had one point in the half. Jordan Bohannon went 0-for-8 from 3-point distance in the game and was scoreless.
Two hours after the game, Bohannon tweeted about going 0-for-8 from the floor and 0-for-6 from 3-point range in a 77-66 loss at Michigan State as a freshman in 2017.
“I was a young kid, growing up in front of everybody. The feeling I felt after this game could’ve ended my college basketball career. Then (teammate Peter Jok) texted me on the plane when we landed, ‘Keep shooting that (expletive).’ Life goes on.”
February 11th, 2017 @ Michigan State. I was a young kid, growing up in front of everybody. The feeling I felt after this game could’ve ended my college basketball career. Then @Jok_City14 texted me on the plane when we landed, “Keep shooting that s***.” Life goes on. https://t.co/gf1SgtKGOq pic.twitter.com/Qz56rE8SnJ
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— Jordan Bohannon (@JordanBo_3) January 22, 2021
Indeed it does. The Hawkeyes’ five-game winning streak ended. Thursday’s game was their first true clunker of the season. They happen, especially in the Big Ten. Still, it wasn’t being shrugged off by Garza, the nation’s leading scorer. He used the word “upsetting” six times in a postgame Zoom interview.
“They, like a lot of teams, were just sending a lot of heat towards me,” Garza said. “Honestly, I didn’t do a good enough job dealing with the double-team in the second half.
“I can’t turn it over that many times (four in the second half). I’m better than that, and I have been better than that, and I will be better than that. So it’s upsetting for myself. It’s something I work on every single day, and I’ve got to be better.”
Wieskamp made three first-half 3s and had 15 points in the first half, which ended with Iowa up 37-31. But he took just two shots after that.
“When I caught the ball they were up in my space,” Wieskamp said. “If I tried to drive, there were guys in the gaps ... I couldn’t get anything off.”
Garza and Wieskamp both suggested the team didn’t practice well enough this week.
“It’s upsetting we weren’t able to play to the level we know we can and we understand that,” Garza said.
“It has to be used a lesson, not finger-pointing. We’re going to be better. I’m going to make sure that we’re better. I’m going to make sure that we don’t take anything for granted and that we’re going to see every game as the most important on the schedule. And I’m going to have to do that as one of the leaders on this team and I will do that.”
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Wieskamp said the second-half absence of CJ Fredrick hurt because “he brings such a great presence on the floor” as a shooter and playmaker. Fredrick has a lower leg injury, so maybe it’s a good thing for the Hawkeyes that don’t play again until next Friday, at Illinois.
“I think we have to understand a little bit better what this league is and the quality of the teams that are coming in here that we’re going to face on the road,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I thought up until now we did a pretty good job of that. I thought they were tougher than we were tonight. And that’s disappointing.
“To beat good teams you have to play better defense than that. I think you can talk about a lot of things, but it starts with that.”
The Big Ten is a 20-game road with a lot of potential potholes. Every team hits them. To be a title contender, you can’t let one or two turn into anything more than that.
“I think we just need to look in the mirror and kind of not focus on all the hype we have surrounding our team,” said Wieskamp. “Obviously, there’s a lot of buzz around our team and people telling us how good we are.
“But at the end of the day we have to go out there and prove it. We’re only halfway through the season, if that. We have a whole lot left to prove if we want to be where we want to be.”
“I promise the rest of the year,” Garza said, “every Hawkeye team that steps on the court will be locked in and ready to go.”
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