In need of a win to try to save any NCAA tournament hopes, Indiana once again failed to take advantage of an opportunity to get a win late in the season, losing to Iowa 96-90.
The Hoosiers were led then #16 Purdue 57-55 at home on February 9 before being outscored 12-7 in the final 4:55 to lose 69-64.
Indiana led Minnesota on the road 69-64 with 2:26 remaining in the game before the Golden Gophers ended the game on a 10-5 run to steal the game on a tip-in in the final seconds.
When Devante Green drilled a 3 from the corner with 4:45 left to cap a 10-3 Hoosier run, Indiana looked in control with a 56-48 lead.
But would Indiana be able to close out the ballgame to end a 4 game losing streak?
An Iowa run answered with 6 straight points, 4 of them coming off a sequence when Christian Williams hit a layup, then Thomas Bryant threw the inbounds pass to Peter Jok who would get fouled and hit 2 of his school record 22 made free throws to get Iowa back to within 2 at 66-64.
Iowa took their first lead of the ballgame at 73-71 on a Nicholas Baer put back dunk before Juwan Morgan hit a layup to tie the game at 73 before the teams traded free throws to send the game in overtime tied at 75. Iowa outscored Indiana 17-9 to end regulation.
In overtime, Iowa 15-16 free throws to outscore the Hoosiers 21-15 in the extra period in route to the 96-90 Hawkeye victory.
“We're making some mistakes that defy description,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told Don Fischer post game. “We lost because we’re still making too many mistakes. It comes down to awareness and simplicity.”
In all, Iowa took advantage of 35 Indiana fouls over the games final 34 minutes, Indiana was not called for a foul in the first eleven minutes of the game, into 47 free throw attempts, making 39 of them. The Hoosiers made 16 of their 19 attempts from the charity stripe.
“Theres absolutely no chance I‘m gonna talk about the free throw shooting,” Crean said. “I had no idea untill I looked at the score sheet that the free throw difference was that much.”
Before the collapse, the Hoosiers came out of the gates looking like a team that wanted to salvage their season. Josh Newkirk had 7 of Indiana’s first 9 as the Hoosiers jumped out to an early 9-0 lead. Indiana would build their lead up to as many as 13 at 17-14 before Iowa coach Fran McCaffery made the adjustment to go into a 3⁄4 court press to speed up the Hoosiers. The adjustment eventually lead to a 12-0 Hawkeye run to tie the game at 26. Iowa outscored the Hoosiers 18-7 to end the first half to only trail 33-32.
Indiana regained control for much of the second half, even though the Hoosiers put Iowa in the bonus for the last 15:05 of the half. Indiana built it’s lead up to as many as eight before falling apart in the last five minutes to barely get the game into overtime.
After going a combined 4-24 for 13 points, including an 0-6 egg at Minnesota last Wednesday, Robert Johnson bounced back to lead Indiana with 19 points on 7-14 shooting.
“I said to him [Johnson] that s excellent, but we needed the same guy to be their last Wednesday, even without the shooting,” Crean said. “We need that consistency. That's what we don't have.”
James Blackmon Jr. scored 18 points, and Thomas Bryant recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards. After scoring 7 of Indiana’s first 9 points, Newkirk would only add four more the rest of the way, finishing with 11 before fouling out.
Jok led Iowa with 35 points, 22 coming from the free throw line. Tyler Cook scored 14 and Bear added 10 for the Hawkeyes.
As has been the story all year, turnovers were a back-breaker for Indiana, as the Hoosiers finished the game with 22 turnovers.
The loss drops Indiana (15-13, 5-10 Big Ten) to 12th in the Big Ten standings, tied with Ohio State. Iowa (15-13) improved to 7-8 in conference play.
The Hoosiers will be back in Simon Skjot Assembly Hall for their final home game of the season (barring potential NIT home games) on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 8pm eastern time.