The Iowa men’s basketball team didn’t quit against Indiana. But it also didn’t finish the job.
Indiana ended Tuesday’s game in Bloomington, Indiana on an 8-0 scoring run and that was enough to prevail 74-68 at Assembly Hall.
Iowa, which has won the previous four games in the series, was in danger of being blown out when it fell behind by 17 points late in the first half.
But instead of unraveling, the Hawkeyes cut the deficit to 11 points at halftime and then took the lead in the second half.
“I was really proud of that, their effort and their execution for the most part,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on the Big Ten Network post-game show. “They just kept coming. And when you’re on the road and you’re behind, it can get away from you, especially in this building. And we didn’t let it get away from us. And that’s what the good teams do.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t finish it with a few more plays, but we’ll learn from that.”
Iowa once again was led by junior forward Payton Sandfort and senior guard Tony Perkins on offense as they scored 26 and 22 points, respectively.
Perkins, who is from Indianapolis, scored 17 points in the second half, and has now scored at least 20 points in four straight games.
Tuesday’s game was similar to Iowa’s previous game when Sandfort and Perkins combined for 50 points in a win at Michigan this past Saturday.
The difference, of course, is that Iowa failed close the deal against the Hoosiers.
Iowa fell to 4-6 in the Big Ten and 12-9 overall and will host Ohio State on Friday, while Indiana improved to 5-5 and 13-8 and gave head coach Mike Woodson his first win against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa already has lost three Big Ten home games, so Friday’s matchup against the Buckeyes is a must-win in Iowa’s quest to stay within striking distance of making the NCAA Tournament.
And while Payton Sandfort and Perkins carried the load on offense, they didn’t get enough help in Tuesday’s loss as no other Iowa player scored more than four points besides sophomore Josh Dix, who scored ten points on 3-of-8 shooting.
Graduate transfer forward Ben Krikke was held to just two points, while Iowa was also outscored 20-4 in bench points.
Iowa also shot just 35.4 percent from the field, was outrebounded 45-32 and only had 10 assists, while the Hoosiers had 18 assists.
Freshman forward Owen Freeman struggled with foul problems and only played 11 minutes and scored four points.
Indiana led by double figures for much of the first half, including 39-22 with 1 minute, 27 seconds left before halftime.
“They jumped us and they were shooting the ball well,” Fran McCaffery said of Indiana. “But the energy level in the building, and they energy level they were playing with was better than ours.
“We settled down. W were down 17 and climber back in and got it to a manageable numberau, who injr. I thought our defensive intensity and our execution was way better in the second half. We got back in the game and took the lead and credit them for pulling it out.”
Indiana played without its leading scorer, forward Malik Reneau for most of Tuesday’s game as he suffered an ankle injury less than three minutes into the first half and didn’t return.