By Tyler Devine
AMES, Iowa – It's the cold and flu season, and the Iowa men's basketball team can't seem to avoid the turnover bug.
Iowa committed 18 turnovers for the third consecutive game, and that contributed to Thursday's 84-78 loss to Iowa State at a raucous Hilton Coliseum.
Despite leading 41-36 at halftime and out-rebounding Iowa State 53-31, including a 20-6 advantage on the offensive glass, Iowa lost its fourth consecutive game and fell to 4-6 on the season
“You look at the stats, 53 to 31 on the glass you’re supposed to win,” siad Iowa head Fran McCaffery. “But 12 turnovers in the second half and 18 turnovers leading to 28 points, that’s why we lost. That’s unfortunate. We’ve got to get better in that area.
“We had six turnovers early and then didn’t turn it over the rest of the half we ended up up five. In the second half we never really got in the kind of rhythm we needed to.”
Not only did Iowa turn the ball over, it allowed Iowa State to capitalize on the turnovers.
The Cyclones (6-2) scored 28 points off of Iowa turnovers, 21 of those coming in the second half as Iowa State won for the seventh time in the last nine games against Iowa, and extended its home winning streak against the Hawkeyes to eight games.
Junior forward Nicholas Baer, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two turnovers, said that consecutive turnovers allowed Iowa State to gain momentum in the second half.
The killer was a 10-3 run by Iowa State that started with, you guessed it, an Iowa turnover with 6:38 left in the second half. It would end with a 76-66 Iowa State lead with 4:20 left to play that essentially put the game out of reach.
Iowa State also made 15 of its 20 free throw attempts, while Iowa was just 1-for-8 from the charity stripe.
“They really executed off of our turnovers unfortunately,” Baer said. “We did a nice job in the first half of making plays for each other and being unselfish and sharing the ball. But when we have consecutive turnovers in the second half they feed off of that especially in this environment. They were able to go on a run and take the nine or 10 point lead.”
Iowa is still a young team, and young teams tend to get ahead of themselves when facing a double-digit deficit, especially in a road game.
Freshman forward Jack Nunge, who didn’t commit any turnovers and tied a career high with 17 points, said it comes down to making the easy pass instead of trying to force the issue.
When Iowa made the easy pass, it often worked and led to 36 three-point attempts, 11 of which the Hawkeyes made.
But even 11 three-pointers weren't enough to overcome 18 turnovers in a rivalry game.
“I think in the second half we started speeding ourselves up,” Nunge said. “They went on one of those runs and we weren’t executing like we wanted to and I think that’s what led to those turnovers.
“We’re a pretty young team. It’s a work in progress. We’re trying to get better and work at it every day in practice and coach is always telling us just make the easy pass. One dribble kicks to the open guy for three.”