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Iowa basketball searches for late-game answers
IOWA CITY, IOWA (AP) - There might not be a team in the country as unlucky as Iowa.
The Hawkeyes (14-9, 3-7 Big Ten) have lost once to each of the top seven teams in the Big Ten standings. Five of those defeats have come by four points or less with the game in doubt in the final minute.
They had a decent chance to win every one of those close ones. The Hawkeyes didn’t, though, and the team’s confidence level was a major topic of conversation ahead of Saturday’s game against Northwestern (13-10, 4-6).
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Friday he is satisfied with his team’s approach to adversity _ which seems like the only thing the Hawkeyes have faced of late.
“It seems like the ball has not bounced our way a couple times. I will say this: I think they have really good perspective,” McCaffery said. “Sometimes you get the feeling that they’re saying what they’re supposed to say. But I really think they believe in themselves and they believe in what we’re capable of doing.”
Iowa’s once-promising season has devolved into a series of agonizing losses against strong teams in the nation’s toughest league.
_ Iowa could have knocked off Indiana in the league opener, but shot 3 of 17 from 3-point range and lost 69-65.
_ Michigan State broke open a tie game with a steal of freshman Mike Gesell with 49 seconds left and went on to a 62-59 win.
_ Junior Devyn Marble missed a jumper at the regulation buzzer at Purdue. The Hawkeyes went without a field goal in the final 2:50 of overtime of a 65-61 Boilermakers victory.
_ Iowa had Minnesota all but buried in Minneapolis last Sunday. But Austin Hollins capped a game-ending 7-0 run with a 3 with 11.6 seconds left and Gesell front-rimmed a 3 for another 62-59 defeat.
The finish in Madison on Wednesday was the cruelest yet.
Josh Oglesby’s 3 as time expired circled around the rim and spun out, saving the Badgers from a rare home defeat. Iowa forced a second OT, but fell 74-70.
“We’re making a lot of really good plays. We’re making some mistakes. We’re not executing at times. We’ve got different people stepping up. We’re not shooting the ball that well. So that’s a problem,” McCaffery said. “If you’re not shooting it well and you soften up, then you’re going to get drilled. They’re showing a lot of fight in that respect. Now we just have to be able to play better in the last couple minutes.”
By far the biggest issue the Hawkeyes have in late-game situations is the lack of a true go-to guy.
Marble was supposed to be just that for Iowa, but the junior swingman is mired in a major slump.
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