By Pat Harty
Just four games into the 20-game Big Ten schedule, and yet, the Iowa men’s basketball team is already three games out of first place.
Iowa was put in that precarious situation with Thursday’s 87-78 loss to a surging Wisconsin team at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Iowa trailed 45-32 at halftime and by double figures throughout the second half as the Badgers dominated the boards and won their fourth consecutive game.
The game wasn’t as close as the nine-point final margin would suggest as Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon made three 3-points baskets in the final minutes with the outcome already decided.
The Hawkeyes now have a week to recover and to prepare for their next game against Indiana next Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Sophomore forward Keegan Murray had another impressive scoring performance with 27 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Badgers controlled the game pretty much from the midway point of the first half.
Wisconsin sophomore shooting guard Johnny Davis continued his spectacular play with 26 points, nine rebound and three assists.
It marked the sixth consecutive game that the 6-foot-5 Davis has scored at least 20 points.
Davis was far from a solo act, however, as all five of Wisconsin’s starters scored in double figures.
Kris Murray, who is Keegan Murray’s twin brother, scored 12 points for Iowa, as did Bohannon thanks to his late 3-point flurry, while sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery finished with 10 points.
No other player for Iowa scored in double figures.
Iowa fell to 1-3 in the Big Ten and 11-4 overall, and now has ways to go to catch up with current Big Ten leader Michigan State, which is 4-0 in conference play.
“What we have to do is learn from it,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of his Learfield post-game radio show. “
The fact that Wisconsin almost scored 90 points in Thursday’s game shows just how much Iowa struggled to defend. The Badgers don’t normally score at that pace, but many of their points came on easy baskets in transition.
The game was close until the Badgers made a run about midway through the first, expanding the lead to double figures by halftime.
Wisconsin led by as many as 23 points in the second half.