MADISON, Wis. — The Iowa Hawkeyes were props Thursday night at the Kohl Center, nothing more.
This is how you throw a Senior Night: Wisconsin 6-foot-5 senior guard Khalil Iverson had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Ethan Happ, a 6-foot-10 post player with all-around skills like few big men the Big Ten has ever featured, had 21 points and 14 rebounds in his home finale.
Iowa’s bigs? Squadoosh. Iowa’s everybody? The middle of a doughnut.
Wisconsin (21-9, 13-6) won, 65-45. The Hawkeyes dropped to 21-9 and 10-9. They lost a third-straight game for the first time this season, and they’ve lost the three by an average of 18 points.
Junior forward Tyler Cook, the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer last season and this, had his first career scoreless game Thursday. He missed all six of his shots.
“My focus is trying to make sure we don’t lose a game like that again,” Cook said.
It has become the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Iowa missed 41 of 59 field goal tries. Its 30.5 percent was worse than even its last game, the 35.7 percent it shot in an 86-72 home loss to Rutgers.
“The ball didn’t go in, that’s for sure,” said Kirk Speraw, who served as acting head coach here. Head coach Fran McCaffery served the second game of a two-game suspension for a postgame exchange with a game official last week at Ohio State.
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“Where’s your daddy?” Wisconsin’s student section chanted at Iowa freshman guard Connor McCaffery during the game.
“Where’s your offense?” would have been a more-pertinent question.
It was Iowa’s smallest point total since its 56-44 loss to Northern Iowa in December 2014, and its fewest points in a Big Ten game since getting 45 against Minnesota in 2011. The Hawkeyes’ season-low had been in their 72-66 loss to Wisconsin in Iowa City last Nov. 30.
Iowa had its lowest-scoring half of the season when it tallied just 22 first-half points, then scored 23 in the second half. The Badgers had twice as many points in the paint, over three times as many second-chance points. No Hawkeye scored more than eight points. The rebounds? Wisconsin 49, Iowa 29.
This was March Badness.
“You start seeing the ball go in the hole a couple times,” said Cook, “and you’ll start seeing the other areas of the game change for us.”
“Bottom-line, we’re a team that has good shooters and we’re not shooting the ball very well right now,” Speraw said. “That’s been the theme for a little bit. We’ve just got to snap out of it and continue to grind and find some answers. Somewhere along the line we’ll start making shots again.”
Time is running out if Iowa is to stop tumbling down the NCAA tournament bracketology ladder. It closes its regular season at Nebraska Sunday at 1 p.m., then jumps into the Big Ten tournament against some hungry team that will desperately need a win and has won the night before.
“We have to stay connected,” said Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon, who made 2 of 8 3-pointers. “That’s the main thing we’re going to focus on the next two days. The best teams in March stay connected for 40 minutes.”
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