Pesky Hawkeyes hang Tough at Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — Justin Johnson scored 13 points and made 3 of 5 from three-point range for the University of Iowa, but No. 24 Wisconsin used a late surge to shake off the pesky Hawkeyes 64-51 on Saturday in the Kohl Center.

The Badgers improved to 12-2 overall, 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa is 7-8, 0-2.

Cyrus Tate scored eight points with eight rebounds and two blocked shots for the Hawkeyes. Tate tied the game at 28-28 with a layup with 17-minutes, 24-seocnds left in the game. Iowa trailed by two (31-29) with 16:08 remaining.

Johnson started the same way he finished the Indiana game — on fire. In the final 1:48 of the Indiana game, Johnson scored 19 points, going 6 of 6 from downtown in Wednesday’s Big Ten opener. He finished with 29 points in that game.

After Tate dunked in Iowa’s first points against Wisconsin, Johnson continued to rain in three’s. A few minutes into the game he drilled his first triple, then knocked down another to put Iowa up 10-9 with 13:51 remaining in the first half.

Johnson finished the first half with nine points on 3 of 4 shooting, all from behind the arc. The Badgers, one of the best Division I home teams, have won the past 30 of 31 games in the Kohl Center only losing earlier this season to state rival Marquette.

The Badgers kept that home tradition alive as they kept pace early with Iowa when Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry gave Wisconsin several second-shot opportunities on five of their six offensive boards. Iowa finished the half with no offensive boards.

“They shot some pretty deep ones and we just turned,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “You have to hold your ground, you have to stand, you have to find out if the guy is coming, pick up the slack, and rebound the ball. You can’t turn and watch and that happened to us a number of times. We shot 52 percent and were still down by six. That is just disappointing.”

Iowa shot much better than Wisconsin in the first half but second-chance points and free throws helped the Badgers to a 28-22 lead going into intermission. The Hawkeyes, already having a somewhat depleted roster without freshman forward Jarryd Cole, who is out for the season, beat themselves early with 12 fouls by halftime to Wisconsin’s three.

The Hawkeyes shot 9 of 17 (52.9 percent) from field goal range and 4 of 6 (66.7 percent) from downtown compared to the Badgers 9 of 28 (32.1 percent) from the field and 3 of 11 (27.3 percent) from three point land. The difference-maker was the free throw attempts, as Wisconsin had eight more attempts than Iowa and the Badgers hit 7 of 9.

In the second half, the Hawkeyes corrected their mistakes and started quickly. A Tate layup with 17:25 to go knotted the game up at 28-28 as the Hawkeyes went on a 6-0 run. Iowa was much tougher on the glass in the second half, grabbing five offensive boards and 28 overall to Wisconsin’s 31. The Hawekeyes attended the charity stripe much more in the final half but could not muster many of those free throws.

“Mainly because we were playing with the lead that free throws will look like that,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “If you are Iowa and trying to play from behind that is what you have to do. This was one of those games that was pretty physical. It is the Big Ten and you just have to play through a lot of things at times and our guys did a good job of that. When they got to the line they were opportunistic.”

“In the first half we didn’t play our roles,” Tate said. “Coach told us at halftime to play our roles and do what you are good at. My role is to set the screens and roll to the basket hard so I can get looks, finish plays and get layups.”

Butch was nearly unstoppable as he had a game-high 22 points to go along with his seven rebounds. He helped the Badgers go 20 of 48 (41.7 percent) from the field, 5 of 15 (33.3 percent) from behind the arc and 19 of 27 (70.4 percent) from the charity stripe. Iowa’s fast start was followed by a slow finish as the Hawkeyes finished 19 of 45 (42.2 percent) from field goal range, 6 of 16 (37.5 percent) from three point land and was hurt by less than stellar free throw shooting as they went 7 of 15 (46.7 percent).

“It was a difficult game,” Lickliter said. “I thought it would be very challenging. They space the floor so well and not only do they space it, but put skill players around and now you have to make decisions. If you get anxious they really exploit it and we got anxious a few times. We were behind the play and that is why we were fouling because we couldn’t beat them to spots.”

After the Hawkeyes went on a 6-0 run, the Badgers gave an 8-0 streak of their own and led 39-29 with 12:24 left to play. Iowa went on a five-minute drought before freshman guard Jeff Peterson hit a bank shot and the latter free throw after being fouled by guard Trevon Hughes.

“They executed, we struggled,” Lickliter said. “There were times where you could see where we could have some flashes and we did some good things, but just not enough of them.”

Johnson had a quiet second half until late when he hit two free throws with 7:53 to go and Iowa trailed 46-37. Johnson hit a jumper with seven minutes left, but the Hawkeyes trailed by 10. Johnson finished with 13 points before fouling out of the game with 3:14 left to go. Freshman guard Jake Kelly, coming off a sprained ankle, also fouled out with 1:44 to go. He finished with three points as he was slowed by the injury.

The Hawkeyes continued to battle and stay within striking distance, but the Badgers proved to be too much as they continued to run away with the game late.

“We just have to refocus on what we need to be doing defensively,” Tate said. “We were right there. We need to regroup in practice, focus on what we need to do defensively and play with a lot of heart, toughness and poise.”

The Hawkeyes play 10-3 Ohio State next Wednesday with a 6:05 p.m. tip-off from Columbus, Ohio.