Jan. 31, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — No. 5 Wisconsin turned 15 offensive rebounds into 16 points in handing the University of Iowa men’s basketball team a 74-63 loss Saturday afternoon on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“If you’re going to look at one thing that was the difference in the game, it was offensive rebounding,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Normally if they make seven 3s, you’ve got a shot, but not if you look (at the box score) and see 35-24 (rebounding), 15-7 (offensive rebounding). That’s a recipe for disaster.”
The Hawkeyes had a higher field goal percentage, shooting 47.9 percent (23-of-48) compared to 44.2 percent for Wisconsin, but the Badgers made seven 3-pointers (7-of-19) to Iowa’s four and converted 21-of-26 attempts from the free throw stripe. The Hawkeyes were 13-of-20 for 65 percent.
The Badgers were plus-11 on the glass, out-rebounding Iowa, 35-24, which included the 15 offensive boards. Wisconsin had a 16-7 advantage in second-chance points.
“It’s frustrating because I think we guarded pretty well, but the offensive rebounds killed us,” said senior Aaron White, who paced the team with 15 points. “They’re No. 1 in the country in efficiency in the country on second-chance points, and they proved that today.”
With his status questionable because of a stinger suffered Jan. 24 at Purdue, White played a career-high 38 minutes, making 5-of-11 field goals. Two of his makes were from 3-point range, and he grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Aaron,” said McCaffery. “I didn’t think he was going to play on Wednesday and Thursday I felt pretty sure he was going to play. My biggest concern was him getting hit again… we played him 38 minutes… he’s a tough kid.”
Senior Gabriel Olaseni was the only other Hawkeye in double figures, scoring 12 points. Junior Mike Gesell scored eight points despite playing with an elbow injury suffered in a Jan. 26 practice.
“Mike couldn’t really shoot a 3, that’s why he kept turning down 3s,” said McCaffery. “He could shoot a pull-up and get to the rim. He didn’t practice all week, but he lived in the training room, like White. They both were effective and gave us a chance to win. You’ve got to love that about both of them.”
Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky led a quartet of Badgers in double figures with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. Nigel Hayes made 6-of-10 field goals en route to 14 points, while Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser added 11 points apiece.
The Badgers stretched their six-point halftime lead to 11 points with a 5-0 start to the second half behind a Kamisky 3-pointer and a Bronson Koenig layup. Iowa followed with a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to 49-43 with 16:10 remaining.
Iowa’s defense kept it in the game, limiting the Badgers to six points over the next seven minutes, but the Hawkeyes’ offense hit a dry spell at the same time. Iowa cut its deficit 49-44 at the 13:46 mark, and it trailed 51-45 with 11:58 remaining.
“We hit a cold spell,” said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. “That could have been a time that changed the tide, but it didn’t, so we kept plugging defensively. I like to say we were playing good defense to get it back, but they had some shots that just didn’t go down, that do go down at times.”
After the Badgers pushed their lead to double 55-45 with 9:44 to play, Gesell’s runner trimmed the lead to eight, but Gasser answered with a fall-away 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to open an 11-point Wisconsin advantage with 8:47 to play.
“Gasser’s 3 — Josh Oglesby cannot play better defense than he played on that possession,” said McCaffery. “That was a big play in the game.”
Iowa climbed to within 65-57 on a White 3-pointer with 2:57 remaining, but Wisconsin iced the game at the free stripe to improve to 19-2 overall and 7-1 in Big Ten play.
Iowa trailed 42-36 at the break despite shooting 64 percent from the floor in the opening half. The Hawkeyes made eight of their first nine shots over the first eight minutes, but the hot start didn’t translate to the scoreboard as the game was tied at 17 at the 11:48 mark.
The Badgers followed by scoring 7-of-8 points to build a 24-18 lead before Dekker scored four-straight to push the lead to eight (28-20) with 9:02 left in the half. The Hawkeyes fought back and brought the sold-out crowd to its feet when White and sophomore Peter Jok connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 32-30 with 5:09 left in the half.
Gasser answered with an old-fashioned three-point play, and the Badgers led by six at the break. The two teams combined to shoot 58.4 percent in the first half and commit just three turnovers.
Iowa (13-8, 4-4) returns to action Thursday at Michigan, facing the Wolverines at 6 p.m. (CT) in Ann Arbor.
“Our team’s confidence is still strong,” said McCaffery. “You lose three in a row; it’s not going to be the same as if we won three in a row. It’s incumbent on me and my staff to make sure we remain focused and keep trying to get better and believing in each other.
“You don’t want to get too negative, but you don’t want to accept defeat.”