AMES — One could call Iowa’s lack of composure and absence of concentration in the final two minutes a mental blip at Iowa State Thursday night. Or you could call it a collapse.
One wouldn’t be wrong either way.
The Hawkeyes led by 20 points with 16 minutes, 50 seconds left against in-state rival Iowa State. Iowa held an eight-point lead with less than two minutes remaining. Then, just like two years ago at Hilton Coliseum, the Hawkeyes unraveled and ultimately fell 83-82 to the No. 2-ranked Cyclones.
“Pretty much down the stretch here we didn’t execute,” Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons said. “We had the game in our hands. We were pretty much in control, they amped it up. We pretty much stayed lax. That pretty much sums it up.”
The Hawkeyes committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions in the final 1 minute, 5 seconds. With the Hawkeyes holding an 82-76 lead, Clemmons attempted an inbound pass to center Adam Woodbury under the basket. ISU guard Matt Thomas knocked the ball away, and Cyclones center Jameel McKay grabbed it. Two passes later, Thomas drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to pull the Cyclones within 82-79.
On Iowa’s next possession, forward Jarrod Uthoff tried to inbound from under the basket. Before he passed to Woodbury, Uthoff bobbled the ball and was whistled for a five-second call. On ISU’s ensuing possession, forward Georges Niang was fouled and knocked down two free throws to cut Iowa’s lead to 82-81.
The Hawkeyes still had the lead, and Iowa point guard Mike Gesell ran down the clock on their next sequence. With 10 seconds left, Iowa’s players started to move. Uthoff was supposed to get the ball, but he was covered by Niang. Gesell drove to the basket, but his shot caromed off the backboard and missed the rim. The ball bounced away, and the Hawkeyes were hit with a shot clock violation. ISU guard Monte Morris then completed the comeback on a jumper with eight seconds left to put the Cyclones ahead for good.
Three possessions, three turnovers, three consecutive Cy-Hawk losses.
“Just couldn’t get the ball inbounds twice in a row,” Gesell said. “That’s unacceptable, especially with our experienced group. We’ve got to either call a timeout there or get open. That’s part of the reason why this loss, I think, hurts so much because we were up like that. We had the game in our hands, and it was our game to lose. We kind of handed it to them.”
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The endgame situation was the most glaring, but the Hawkeyes failed repeatedly to retain offensive momentum. The Cyclones scored 32 points off Iowa turnovers, including 18 in the second half.
“We’re obviously disappointed with how we handled the ball, not just the end, but coming down the stretch,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “You can’t turn it 17 times, that’s just too many. I know they’re quick and they’re up in your space but we’ve got to come down and get a shot. If you get a shot, it might go in, you might get fouled, you might get an offensive rebound. But if you’re turning it over, that’s problematic.
“Then we turned it over twice against the press with a timeout left. So that one is disappointing because I can’t call it anymore. I wanted a timeout. I thought Clemmons or Jarrod would have done it.”
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