By Don Lund
Last week was a make or break week for the Hawkeye men’s basketball team.
They had to play three games because the Feb. 18 game at Indiana game was canceled.
They came into the week 19-7, 8-5 in the Big Ten.
Iowa needs to win a couple more to secure a top-four seed in the Big Ten Tournament. That way they won’t have to play four games in four days.
The Hawks traveled to Minnesota for their first game last Tuesday and came home with a 95-89 loss.
You start out with the Gophers not even scoring 60 points in the last three games. Then you throw in Minnesota shooting 9-11 (82 percent) in the first half from 3-point range. They shot 61 percent for the game. They were averaging 34 percent and shot only 16 percent in their last game from beyond the arc.
There were some open looks, but for the most part the Gophers were red-hot from the outside.
Also a red shirt freshman, who hasn’t scored since December and only has two baskets all year, scores 11 in the first half including 3-3 from 3-point range and finishes with 13 points.
Melsahn Basabe doesn’t play for the second straight game and Iowa misses him down low. Mel not only plays good defense and is a good rebounder but he has come on strong with his offense down low.
Zach McCabe had his second straight start.
Zach is playing without a lot of confidence lately and I don’t blame him.
The 6-7 senior from Sioux City has been getting ripped on the message boards and Twitter. So much so that I agree with Fran McCaffery on shutting down all Twitter accounts.
Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeye head football coach, has banned Twitter as long as the players are on the team.
I also agree with coach McCaffery about Zach McCabe. He said the people getting on Zach are not really Hawkeye fans.
Zach might be in a slump right now, but he does so many other things on this team besides score.
I’ve gotten to know Zach a little in these last four years and he grew up a Hawkeye fan, is living out his dream to play for Iowa and has had, for the most part, a good career.
I’m also getting tired of some fans getting down on Adam Woodbury because he doesn’t dunk a lot.
Do you get more points when you score a dunk over a layup?
The next day in the box score a layup, jump shot or dunk goes down as two points.
Are we worried about style points?
Okay, that’s it for venting but that still was a tough loss in Gopher land. Minnesota did beat Wisconsin and Ohio State.
The Hawkeyes’ third road trip in six days ended in defeat at Indiana last Thursday, 93-86.
The good news was Melsahn Basabe played for the first time in three games.
Mel played 20 minutes, scored 14 points, had two rebounds and helped the Hawks lead the Hoosiers at halftime, 52-49.
Indiana fought back and took the lead in the second half, but I always felt Iowa would make a big run and put it away... it just didn’t happen.
The Hoosiers shot over 50 percent for the game, made two more 3-pointers, the Hawkeyes turned the ball over too many times (18) and couldn’t get defensive stops when they needed to.
The Indiana bench also outscored the Iowa bench, 42-26.
The Hawks finally got the monkey off their back by beating Purdue, 83-76, last Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
This was one of those games where it looked like Iowa was going to roll over the Boilermakers as they led at half, 50-37.
Gabe Olaseni and Jarrod Uthoff provided a spark off the bench, combining for eight points and 11 rebounds.
Purdue wouldn’t quit, came back strong in the second half, took the lead but Iowa finished strong, thanks to Devyn Marble and Mike Gesell hitting free throws and the Hawks finally get their 20th win.
“When you are up by 13 at half you’d like to coast,” said head coach Fran McCaffery. “But when you play Purdue, they’re not going to let you coast. They caught fire and came back in the second half. We could have really struggled at that point, but we just kept working, kept working defensively and five turnovers to their 16... that’s probably the biggest stat of the game.”
Who would have thought that a 3-pointer by Aaron White late in the second half would give the Hawks the lead for the rest of the game?
Devyn had 21, Aaron and Mike 15 while Josh Oglesby came off the bench for 11. Nice balance, 17 assists and 12 steals makes a good win.
Iowa finishes 1-2 for the week.
Not what I was hoping for, but they still have a shot at a four seed in the Big Ten Tournament.