IOWA CITY, Ia. – The explanation of Iowa getting flattened at home by an in-state rival might have been revealed late in coach Fran McCaffery's seven-minute postgame session with the news media.
"You've got to get them believing again," McCaffery said. "Because they clearly had some doubt tonight."
In the first home game of the season with a big-time feel, Iowa looked helpless in Friday's 90-75 loss to No. 14-ranked Iowa State before 15,400 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa State scored on 10 consecutive possessions at one point and broke open a tie ballgame, at 33-33, into a 24-point lead, 59-35, with 14 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game.
The Cyclones (7-1) were the SUV barreling down the interstate, and the Hawkeyes were the deer in the bright headlights.
"We got tentative. We turned the ball over," Iowa's Aaron White said. "We kind of let them direct the pace and the direction of the game."
What went away?
"Our energy level," White said. "Our aggressiveness."
Iowa State was missing two of its top players — suspended-for-one-game guard Bryce Dejean-Jones and big-man transfer Jameel McKay, who gains eligibility Dec. 20. If a short-handed Iowa State team can manhandle the Hawkeyes like this, what does that mean for the Big Ten Conference season?
This was Iowa's most lopsided home loss since Ohio State won here 76-47 on Jan. 7, 2012.
"It's just disappointing, because I know we're better than that," White said. "It's just frustrating and unacceptable, to be honest."
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The X's and O's seem to be there for this Iowa team, now 8-3. The Hawkeyes had some good open shots Friday night, like they have all season. They're just not hitting them. They shot 39.4 percent for the night, worse than their 42.3-percent season clip entering the game – which ranked 222nd in the nation.
Iowa is better than that, White said. He called the performance unacceptable.
White led the Hawkeyes with 18 points Friday. He didn't get much support.
"I've never stepped on the floor and thought anybody across from me is better than me," White said. "That's just how you have to view every game. That's how you have to play every possession."
Jarrod Uthoff was reflective of the confidence factor. He seemd to vanish at times, and missed open shots short and was limited to 21 minutes.
"Jarrod said to me, 'Coach, they all feel good,'" McCaffery said. "He was short on everything, it seemed to me."
"I'd rather play tomorrow," White said.
Iowa doesn't play again until Dec. 20 against Northern Iowa in the Big Four Classic in Des Moines. It's finals week,
and the players are getting two days off before going back to practice.
"We've got a week to work on us," White said.
Mike Gesell said now is the time to latch onto the positives. His stat line was one of them — nine points, seven assists, no turnovers in 31 minutes.
"We're not going to be perfect every game," Gesell said. "There's still a lot of positives we can take from this game. We've just got to move on and learn from it. This one game won't make-or-break our season."
White frustrated by Iowa's effort in loss to Iowa State