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Pat Harty: 3-point shooting dooms Hawkeyes

[ 0 ] February 4, 2014 |

You name it and the Iowa men’s basketball team probably has an abundance of it.

Except shooters.

Not since all-Big Ten guard Matt Gatens was draining 3-point baskets on a regular basis two seasons ago has Iowa had a player who, night in and night out, could torch the nets.

There are plenty of streak shooters on the current Iowa roster, but the problem with streak shooters is that sometimes none of them show up.

That was the case Tuesday as Iowa made only 3-of-20 shots from 3-point range during a 76-69 loss to Ohio State before an announced crowd of 15,400 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Combine the misfiring from 3-point range with a shoddy defensive effort in the second half when Ohio State scored 45 points, and it was too much for Iowa to overcome.

“If you need to look at where we lost the game, we lost the game on defense in the second half,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

McCaffery is reluctant to acknowledge his team’s 3-point shooting woes, but it was on display throughout Tuesday’s game.

McCaffery said he didn’t have a problem with most of the shots that his team took from 3-point range, besides the fact they didn’t go in. He credited the Buckeyes for defending well on the perimeter.

The Hawkeyes missed their first nine shots from 3-point range, but for some reason, they kept launching from behind the arc instead of pounding the ball inside, where Iowa had a size advantage.

“I think it’s a credit to (Ohio State) because they probably wanted us to shoot that many,” junior forward Aaron White said. “Except for a couple, I think most of them were pretty good shots.”

Ohio State coach Thad Matta seemed surprised that Iowa attempted so many shots from 3-point range.

“Iowa does not normally take 20 shots from 3,” Matta said. “They are so good in the paint. They are so quick and they have so many guys that can score down there.”

Junior guard Josh Oglesby and freshman guard Peter Jok are the only players on the Iowa team that would qualify as pure shooters.

But Oglesby has been inconsistent from 3-point range, and Jok rarely plays, so McCaffery has to hope that two or three players catch fire on a game-by-game basis. It now happens more times than not, but it didn’t happen Tuesday and Iowa paid a heavy price with its second consecutive home loss.

The loss lowered Iowa to 17-6 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten heading into Saturday’s game against conference leader Michigan at home.

McCaffery tried to keep Tuesday’s loss in perspective while addressing the media afterward.

“We don’t want to get carried away,” McCaffery said. “We lost to a very good team.”

Matta probably said the same thing after Iowa defeated the Buckeyes 84-74 on Jan. 12 in Columbus, Ohio. The 18-game Big Ten schedule is a grind that’s filled with numerous peaks and valleys.

“It’s hard, it’s challenging,” Matta said of the Big Ten. “It used to be the days when you felt pretty good (playing) at home.”

Making 3-point shots is challenging for this Iowa team. The problems on defense can be corrected, but the problems with shooting are as much mental as they are physical.

It would be a shame if the inability to make 3-point shots ultimately doomed Iowa. There is so much to like about this Iowa team, including the continued emergence of 6-foot-10 junior center Gabe Olaseni. He made all five of his field-goal attempts Tuesday, but he didn’t attempt a shot from 3-point range.

Unfortunately for Olaseni, his teammates tried and missed too many.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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