INDIANAPOLIS This must be rock bottom.
There isn't another level for Iowa (20-12) right now, not after a 67-62 loss to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament last night. Partly because Iowa won't play another regular-season game. Partly because after six losses in their last seven games with the only win against last-place Purdue Iowa has officially bottomed out.
The 11th-seeded Wildcats (14-18), a team Iowa rolled twice by a combined 52 points, slowed down the tempo, crushed shots at the end of the shot clock and frustrated Iowa's offense to wit's end. Northwestern converted three consecutive shots, including two 3-pointers, at the end of the shot clock. Iowa matched the scores, but couldn't match the 3-pointers.
With the score tied 45-45, Tre Demps knocked down a 3-pointer with 7:54 left to give Northwestern a 48-45 lead. Then when Jarrod Uthoff hit a pair of free throws, Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski drilled a shot over Uthoff at the buzzer, this one over Uthoff to boost the lead to three points. Then when Gabe Olaseni putback his own miss to cut the deficit to one, Sobolewski again hit a 3-pointer.
It was routine throughout the game. Iowa would hit a shot or a pair of free throws, and Northwestern would answer.
Iowa trailed 62-56 after a turnaround jumper from Demps. Devyn Marble answered with a traditional three-point play he was drilled in the eye by Alex Olah on the way up to cut Iowa's deficit to 62-59 with 28 seconds left. Sobolewski then knocked down a pair of free throws to stretch the Northwestern lead back to five.
Uthoff scored on Iowa's next possession to cut the deficit to 64-62 with 20 seconds left. But the Wildcats hit their final four free throws to pull out the win.
Iowa once was a lock for the NCAA tournament, and that still may be the case. But after losing six of its last seven, confidence is in short supply approaching its possible first NCAA bid in eight years.
Read more: http://thegazette.com/2014/03/13/iowa-flattens-out-in-loss-to-northwestern/