Last season, the Iowa Hawkeyes were 2-7 in close games. This season the Hawkeyes have had two heartbreaking losses to Villanova and Iowa State. Both of their losses were games that the Hawkeyes had in their hands and let the lead slip away. Sunday evening was the ideal setting for Iowa to break the trend. Their opponent, the Wisconsin Badgers, have the longest winning streak in the country. While traveling to Madison is no easy trek, Iowa had some things working in their favor.
Students have yet to return to campus for the Wisconsin faithful. The Green Bay Packers had their playoff game immediately before tip-off. It is also January in Wisconsin. After a rough weekend pounding of snow and -40 degree temperatures, most fans had better things to do then brave the elements to reach the arena. Iowa would get to play a basketball game against an opponent that they had beaten in three of their last four meetings without a hostile environment tipping the scales out of favor.
Iowa capitalized in the first half, taking an 11-point lead into the locker room. The second half did not start out well for the Hawkeyes. After going 1-8 to start the half, the Badgers were able to creep their way back into the contest. Roy Marble had 12 points in the first half, but came out of the locker room cold. Iowa could not generate any offense and kept missing lay up after lay up.
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery took exceptions to the officiating around the 12-minute mark of the contest and voiced his displeasure. Most coaches who are beating the No. 4 team in the country on the road maintain their composure. McCaffery is not most coaches. McCaffery is the type of coach that throws a temper tantrum like a three year old in the cereal aisle and starts making contact with officials. There may have been punches thrown, McCaffery’s form was so unorthodox it was difficult to tell.
Six free-throw attempts later, Wisconsin took the lead from the Hawkeyes and never gave it back. Marble started to catch fire and would finish with 27 points. Unfortunately for the Hawekyes, dormant Sam Dekker caught fire for the Badgers. After missing his first nine shots from the field, Dekker would finish 8 clutch points to give the Badgers the 75-71 victory. Iowa will attempt to pick up the pieces after yet another heartbreaking loss when they take on Northwestern Thursday night.