BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Iowa lost for the second time in 17 days to Indiana, a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten men’s basketball team that relied a lot on four freshmen as substitutes Sunday.
Which makes the Hawkeyes, ranked No. 8 nationally until Monday morning, middle of the pack itself. Iowa’s 67-65 to the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall left it in sixth place at 7-5 after it was 6-1 five games ago when its season felt so much different than it does now.
Indiana sophomore guard Armaan Franklin hit a step-back jumper over Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp with 1.6 seconds left for the game-winner.
“He was 1-of-9 before that,” Iowa’s Luka Garza said, “and makes a really tough shot. That’s some grit right there.”
Indiana (10-8, 5-6 Big Ten) was in a position to win for several reasons. Iowa shooting 19-of-51 from the field (37.3 percent) and 8-of-21 from 3-point distance after starting 6-of-9 and 4-of-4, respectively, is one. The Hoosiers getting 15 offensive rebounds and eight steals are others.
Then there was the officiating. It caused rage on the Hawkeyes’ sideline and throughout its fandom in the first half when Iowa had nine fouls to Indiana’s three and Luka Garza got his second with 12:30 left. He was taken out by coach Fran McCaffery for the duration of the half.
Iowa led 17-7 when he left. It trailed 33-31 at the break. The five backups Iowa used scored a total of three points in a combined 42 minutes.
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Garza played the entire second half and never got another foul, scoring 16 second-half points. Could he have played a few more first-half minutes, McCaffery was asked.
“You guys are unbelievable,” the coach replied. “You want me to play the bench, so the bench is in there because guys are in foul trouble, and you want me to take them out. How are they going to get any better? How are they ever going to improve? It’s a ridiculous question.”
“I trust Coach McCaffery and his decision,” Garza said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Garza did talk at length about things he did that made him unhappy, such as getting the second foul so early and missing a shot he called “a bunny” with 41 seconds left and Iowa down 63-62.
He called his second foul a “50/50” call, but said “I just can’t put my team in that position.”
“When they call those tick-tack fouls, it’s frustrating,” said Wieskamp, who matched Garza’s 18 points. “Obviously, Coach got offended by that in the first half.”
McCaffery had a first-half technical foul. It may have paid off for a while, since Indiana got the first seven fouls of the second half.
“Obviously, (the foul situation) says everything in the first half,” McCaffery said, “and I think coming down the stretch again, yeah, it did.”
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Iowa not only saw a double-digit first-half lead vanish, it pulled back ahead 45-35 with 14:30 left after a 14-0 run only for that to dissolve.
Garza, untracked after his slowest first 30 minutes of a game production-wise, scored 12 straight points for Iowa down the stretch before Jordan Bohannon’s 3-pointer tied the game with 27 seconds left.
Franklin dribbled down the clock at the other end, then popped and swished the game-winner with Wieskamp on him. He was well-guarded.
“The game was in the balance, the kid makes a tough step-back,” McCaffery said. “We had opportunities, we had a lead in the second half. We had wide-open 3s that were really good shots, they didn’t go."
Iowa got the defense it had lacked too often during its previous four games. Indiana shot a mere 35.9 percent. The Hawkeyes didn’t have the offense this day, and now they’re a sixth-place team until further notice.
“Losing four out of five and each one you had a lead,” Garza said, “that just sucks.”
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