Iowa Comes Up Short Against No. 8 Wisconsin

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa students were treated to a free game and they took full advantage, as a large crowd came out and cheered the Hawkeye men’s basketball team despite a losing effort as No. 8 Wisconsin came out victorious, 60-54, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday night.

“Good move on somebody’s part to suggest the students have free admission,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “They were great. That was a great move and I’m glad they were here.”

With the loss, Iowa falls to 4-7 in Big Ten action and 11-13 overall. Wisconsin remains in first place at 9-1, 19-3.

Both teams struggled out of the gate to do any damage. Hawkeye senior center Seth Gorney had the opening points on the first possession putting Iowa up, 2-0. Iowa mystified Wisconsin with its stingy signature defense. Both the Badgers and Hawkeyes failed to put up 10 points as 10 minutes had already surpassed before Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry hit a jumper to put the Badgers in the lead 10-8 with 9:32 remaining.

The lead would be short-lived for Wisconsin as Gorney hit a jumper before junior guard Tony Freeman drilled a three ball. Gorney had another jumper before Wisconsin’s Brian Butch nailed a perimeter shot as Hawkeyes led 17-15 with 6:01 left to play in the half.

As good teams do, the No. 8 team in the nation answered Iowa with a three from Jason Bohannon and a layup by Butch to give Wisconsin the lead 20-19 with 4:14 left in the period. Bohannon, a native of Marion, Iowa, heard a loud round of boos from the crowd every time he touched the ball throughout the game.

The Hawkeyes took the lead and momentum with 3:15 to go as freshman guard Jeff Peterson threw up a prayer to senior forward Kurt Looby who alley-ooped it home and Iowa led 23-20. Freeman’s play toward the end of the half helped Iowa to a 29-26 halftime lead as he hit two from downtown in the closing 1:50.

Freeman led all scorers at halftime with 12 points, with each point coming from behind the arc as he went 4 of 6. Gorney did his part as he added eight points on a perfect 4 of 4 shooting.

The Hawkeyes shot 11 of 25 (44 percent) from the floor, 4 of 8 (50 percent) behind the arc, and 3 of 3 from the free throw line. Wisconsin’s Landry led the Badgers in scoring at half with 10 points as Wisconsin went 11 of 26 (42 percent) from the field, 2 of 5 (40 percent) from three point range and 2 of 3 (67 percent) from the charity stripe. Iowa has struggled with controlling the basketball all year, but had only four turnovers in the first half as Wisconsin matched it.

The Badgers got off to a quick start in the second half and took a 32-31 lead on a Joe Krabbenoft jumper. The Hawkeyes had an answer with a Freeman three to put Iowa back up 34-32 with 16:54 left. Wisconsin’s Michael Flowers, who had a quiet first half, answered Iowa’s three with one of his own to put Badgers back on top 35-34.

Freeman regained Iowa’s lead in the back-and-forth battle when he was fouled on a layup and hit the latter two free throws. The Hawkeyes continued to be strong at the charity stripe, led by Tate who hit two with 8:27 remaining as Iowa trailed 43-42. At that point Tate was 5 of 5 from the line as he finished the game 7 of 9 and his team was also a perfect 9 of 9.

“Practicing. Every time after practice I’ll just shoot free throws,” said Tate, who is shooting 56-percent from the line but has been better of late. “I’m pretty poor at free throw shooting so I just work at the things that I’m not good at and try to get better. When I get in those situations, I can help the team out as much as I can.”

Neither team could break away as the lead continued to go back and forth from the lack of turnovers and second-chance points. With 7:15 to go, Peterson hit 1 of 2 free throws to knot the game up at 43 a piece. Both teams hit the one-and-one bonus early had an early and with 6:29 left Freeman made one of two giving the Hawkeyes a 44-43 lead.

The Badgers started to pull away with a few free throws followed by a three from Butch as they led 48-44. Iowa received a gift with 4:20 to go when Butch picked up his fourth foul and had to come out of the game. Iowa senior guard Justin Johnson held scoreless all game hit a monumental three to give back some momentum as the Hawkeyes trailed 48-47 with 3:44 remaining.

With 32.8 seconds remaining Bohannon was put at the free throw line and made both as Wisconsin led 56-51. Peterson came down and drilled a three to make it 56-54 with 25.6 tics left. Iowa wasted no time in fouling Krabbenhoft who made both, making it a two possession game. Landry put the dagger in the upset-minded Hawkeyes when he made both as Wisconsin won 60-54.

“I don’t think you can fault the guys’ effort tonight,” Lickliter said. “We knew it was going to be a lower-possession game and every possession was going to be very valuable. We had three or four bad decisions and in a game like this it’s hard to have those and win. I think we did more good things than bad and I’m proud of our guys because they were playing to win, and they’re hurting right now. We’ll bounce back and build on this and keep getting better.”

“It was real tough. They have some really skilled big players that can go inside and can go outside,” Gorney said. “It was real tough for us trying to keep up. They put Krabbenhoft on me for a little while and then Landry and it kind of changed my game a bit in the way they guarded things.”

Iowa had a steady rotation of scorers led by Freeman’s 18 points, Tate’s strong second half led him to 15 points including 7 of 9 from free throws, and Gorney added 10. Wisconsin was led by Landry with 16 as Butch added 12.

“(Tony) Freeman, later, had a rough night but he hit some tough shots,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “I thought we did a pretty good job on (Justin) Johnson and to his credit he did not force a shot. (Jeff) Peterson is very good at attacking. I’ve said this before, but I guarantee you that if (Seth) Gorney played on my team I’d advertise for my basketball camp on his arms. He’s big and he’s got that touch.”

“We have made a lot of strides,” Gorney said. “I think our team is doing really big things right now, we are starting to get a grasp of Lickliter’s system. We are focusing in on strength and weaknesses of players, we are getting our scouting reports down and guarding pretty well.”

Iowa was 17 of 48 (35 percent) from the floor, 7 of 20 (35 percent) from three point range, and 13 of 17 (77 percent) from the charity stripe. Wisconsin was 20 of 46 (44 percent), 5 of 11 (46 percent), and 15 of 20 (75 percent) from the free throw line. Iowa handled the ball better as they had nine turnovers on the game.

“When you cut them like that, you think back and say, `gosh, if we could have done that against Purdue,’ but people play different ways,” Lickliter said. “Wisconsin is more of a position-oriented team, good defensive, very sound. They just defend. They aren’t trying to create a turnover situation. I think it was a good night’s work. Anything under 10 is a pretty good nights work.”

“We don’t treat this game any different than any other,” Ryan said. “Everybody picked everybody else up.”

Iowa will travel to Minnesota on Saturday for a 1:05 p.m. tipoff.

“We go into every game expecting to win,” Freeman said. “It hurts because we were right there. We have to have a short memory, take the good from the bad because there was a lot of good but some bad. We have to move on and this Saturday is a must win like all of them are.”