Indiana 77, Iowa 64: Game of Runs

By RossWB on December 4, 2017 at 10:02 pm
Down goes Iowa.

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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There was a moment -- a brief, shining moment -- when I thought this was going to be a very different recap. It was going to be about Iowa finally shaking off the torpor of the last several games, battling back from a 15-point halftime deficit, and securing a much-needed win in one of the Big Ten's most hostile environments.  Oh, and about Brady Ellingson having the game of his career (more on that later). And then that moment passed and the game went back to misery. 

It was a back-and-forth game at the start and Iowa actually led at several points in the first part of the first half. Their last lead came at 19-17 after a Maishe Dailey three-pointer, but the game was tied at 20-all with 6:25 to go after a Jordan Bohannon free throw. Then Indiana went on a 21-6 to end the half and take control of the game. Iowa went 2/5 and had five turnovers during that run; Indiana made 7/13 shots and 4/4 free throws.

But the second half provided some actual hope: Iowa went on a 16-2 run to start the second half and cut the Indiana lead to just 43-42 with 16 minutes to play. Perhaps the incredible comeback was really going to happen! SPOILER: It did not happen. That run was the Brady Ellingson and Jack Nunge Show; they had 14 of Iowa's 16 points behind three three-pointers (two from Ellingson and one from Nunge) and an and-one from Nunge. Indiana also went 0/9 during that Iowa run, which helped.

Unfortunately, as soon as the Iowa run ended, Indiana went on another big run of their own -- an 18-0 run to blow the game open when it was 53-50 Indiana. Like Iowa's game against Penn State, they couldn't get over the hump in the second half; unlike that game, they couldn't manage to keep it close after that initial burst from Ellingson and Nunge. During that big IU run Iowa went 0/9 with three turnovers, while Indiana went 8/10 from the floor. Iowa outscored Indiana 14-6 over the final seven minutes of the game, but... whatever. The game was well gone by that point. 

Overall, Iowa shot a miserable 38.5% from the floor and even that was goosed by a 41.7% effort from three-point range (10/24). Iowa shot just 15/41 on 2-point attempts (36.6%) in this game, which includes a stunning 12/32 (37.5%) on shots classified as layups. Indiana actually didn't shoot that well in this one, either -- they made just 40.9% of their field goals (27/66) and 38.1% (8/21) of their threes. But they killed Iowa at the free throw line (15/23 versus 4/9) and in points off turnovers (22 to 10). Ah yes, turnovers: Iowa coughed the ball up 18 times and the giveaways were particularly costly during those two huge runs Indiana used to take over the game. Iowa has no chance of winning games when they turn the ball over that much. 

Individually... well, Brady Ellingson had a good game. He keyed Iowa's brief comeback in the second half and had a team-high 16 points on 6/9 shooting (3/4 from deep); he was also Iowa's best point guard, with four assists against zero turnovers. Iowa's usual top point guard, Jordan Bohannon, had a game to forget: seven points on 2/8 shooting (2/6 from deep) with four assists and an unsightly five turnovers. Jack Nunge got the start in his home state and rewarded Fran's faith with one of his best games to date: 12 points on 4/8 shooting (2/4 from deep) and a team-high six rebounds to go with a steal and a block. Tyler Cook had nine points on 4/8 shooting with five rebounds, but he was outplayed by his Indiana counterpart, Juwan Morgan, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Moss had just two points on 1/5 shooting while playing just 17 minutes. Part of his extended time on the bench was due to Ellingson's strong play, but he again struggled to make an impact when he was in the game. Baer returned to his sixth man role, but had just three points on 1/3 shooting along with three rebounds and three blocks (and, unfortunately, three turnovers), although foul trouble severely limited his minutes. 

Much like the last few games, Iowa alternated bursts of competent, exciting, and downright good play with stretches of completely unwatchable basketball where nothing went right -- terrible defense, frequent turnovers, inability to make any shots on offense. Those bad stretches are incredibly bad right now and they also last far too long; until that changes, Iowa's not going to get back in the win column. 

NEXT: Iowa (4-5, 0-2) heads to Ames to take on Iowa State (7 PM CT, ESPN2). 

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