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Iowa Hawkeyes still seeking first conference win

Hawkeyes drop to 0-4 in conference play

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Iowa
Iowa Hawkeyes forward Tyler Cook (5) reacts during the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Ohio State won 92-81.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not looking good for Tyler Cook and the Iowa Hawkeyes. A Big Ten Conference run and NCAA Tournament has been, more or less, out of the question since December, and has likely been nailed shut after dropping to 0-4 in the Big Ten and losing both home games this week to Michigan, 75-68, and Ohio State, 92-81. The Hawkeyes and Illinois are the lone Big Ten teams without a conference win thus far.

In both outings this week, the Hawkeyes couldn’t dig themselves out of early holes they were found in and were in danger of even larger defeats if it wasn’t for Cook.

On Tuesday, Michigan held an 18-point lead with less than three minutes left in the first quarter. Iowa was able to close that deficit down to 48-36 at the half. In the second half, Iowa outscored Michigan, 32-27, but couldn’t complete the comeback.

It was the same story Thursday when the Ohio State Buckeyes led Iowa by 17 with less than two minutes left in the first half. The Hawkeyes cut it down to 14 at the half, and outscored the Buckeyes, 49-46, in the second half, but it was once again not enough. Ohio State’s Kieta Bates-Diop paced all scorers with 27 points and 13 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.

In both games, Iowa’s offense had trouble getting into any type of rhythm in the early going and Cook saved the Hawkeyes from deficits that could’ve been much worse. The St. Louis, Missouri native scored 28 points and eight rebounds against Michigan while posting 21 points and nine rebounds against Ohio State. Cook now has five 20-point games this season and has been shooting 63.5 percent from the field in his last seven games. He ranks seventh in the Big Ten with 59.1 percent from the field this year, while his 15.2 points per game rank 13th in the conference.

”Our offense was sputtering. We had consecutive misses and we weren’t moving the ball,” head coach Fran McCaffery told HawkeyeSports.com. “It was go ahead TC (Tyler Cook), go score. He was terrific, but we have to make sure we can play off of him more. We had a ton of misses and were scrambling a lot (defensively) as a result of our poor offense.”

Sophomore Jordan Bohannon was the only other Hawkeye to score in the double digits in both contests with 12 and 15 points, while he posted his first double-double of the season against Ohio State as he added 10 assists in the loss. Bohannon ranks third in the Big Ten with 5.0 assists per game behind only Michigan State’s Cassius Winston (7.3) and Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh (5.0).

After dropping back-to-back games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa will now go on the road for three consecutive contests against Maryland, Illinois, and Rutgers. Maryland is 13-4 on the year and 2-2 in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes might have a chance against the Illini and the Scarlet Knights to pick up Iowa’s first conference win.