No. 5 Iowa men's basketball team escapes from No. 16 Gophers

by 24USATVJan. 11, 2021, 12:01 a.m. 21
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Under a minute remained in the first half Sunday in Iowa City when Gophers point guard Marcus Carr stepped in front of the biggest player on the floor and drew a charge from Iowa's 6-11, 265-pound Luka Garza.

It was the extra type of play that the Gophers have needed to help them compete on the road this season even when struggling to score.

Carr, the Big Ten's third-leading scorer, wasn't having his best offensive game. Neither were the No. 16 Gophers, but they trailed the No. 5 Hawkeyes by just two points at halftime.

Those hustle and effort plays, though, weren't enough when the shots didn't fall consistently enough to keep the Big Ten's highest-scoring offense from pulling away in the Gophers' 86-71 loss Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, their fourth defeat in as many road games this season.

"I just want to get everyone going," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "It's not just one guy. My concern is the focus is the five guys on the court playing the right way."

The Gophers (10-4, 3-4 Big Ten) hit 10 three-pointers but shot only 35% from the field, not nearly enough offense to overcome Iowa's 22-4 run to start the second half.

Back-to-back threes from Both Gach and Jamal Mashburn Jr. cut an 18-point deficit to five at 68-63 with 5:34 to play. But the Hawkeyes (11-2, 5-1) ended the game on an 18-8 run. Garza had 33 points, including 18 in the second half.

Carr scored 13 points, tying Gach to lead the Gophers, but shot only 5-for-19 from the field. The junior standout had 30 points in his last game vs. the Hawkeyes, including a tying three at the end of regulation in a 102-95 overtime victory on Christmas Day at Williams Arena.

But the Gophers' road woes have mirrored the struggles of their floor leader away from the Barn. Carr is averaging 13 points on 26% shooting in the losses at Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.

"Marcus has been one of the best guards in the league," Pitino said. "I've got no doubt he'll bounce back and continue to grow and continue to get better."

The Gophers haven't shown they have the firepower to hang with ranked opponents on the road with Carr or no one else scoring at the rim often or getting to the foul line.

In the first meeting vs. Iowa, the Gophers hit a season-high 17 threes, including Brandon Johnson's eight threes, more than he had the entire season combined.

The Gophers hit six threes in the second half Sunday, but they still shot only 29% from long distance.

"Sometimes we fall in love with [jump shots]," said Johnson, who scored 12 points Sunday. "There would be an open lane to the basket and people just settle, including myself."

The Hawkeyes, who haven't lost at home to Minnesota since 2015, shot 55% from the floor, including 71% in the second half. Joe Wieskamp had 20 points, while Jordan Bohannon finished with 19 points and 14 assists.

Mashburn had seven points in the second half for the Gophers. But Iowa native and center Liam Robbins, who finished with 10 points, was scoreless from the field after halftime.

"We're trying to get our first road win," Gach said. "So, it was a bummer it didn't happen [Sunday]. We have to keep working. Keep trying to find our identity. Hopefully, one of those will fall."
• The Star Tribune reporter did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.

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